For most of my life I have battled with not thinking I was small enough...skinny enough to be considered what I thought the world saw as beautiful. Constant comparison to other girls and people on TV had my confidence, at times pretty low. The crash diets started in high school and I would lose ten and gain ten every year it seemed.
Losing the weight didn't fix my head. Even when I was at my smallest, I still thought I needed to be skinnier, I still saw the same imperfections that I saw at my heaviest. It was a mental battle with myself and sometimes still is.
When Canean and I met, I had a hard time seeing myself the way that he saw me...beautiful, imperfections and all. He loved everything that I had always thought of as something I wish I could change. He loved my curves and the fact that I wasn't a size zero, and never would be.
It has taken me thirty years, but I finally decided enough is enough and I'm going to start loving this body I have been given. No more thinking I wish this and I wish that. The truth is I have been blessed with a healthy body...a strong body.
My legs (which I hated) are powerful. They are not a size zero, but they are strong. They have yet to let me down and I pretty much dominate in the squat department. I used to wear jeans all summer (yes, even in Louisiana) because I didn't want people to see my legs. Pretty ridiculous.
I am 5 feet, 8 inches tall and I am a size 8. This is my healthiest weight. I have been a size 6 and I have been a size 12. This is when I feel the best. I work out 4-5 times a week and eat healthy and so what if I'm larger than a sample size?
I don't want to fight the battle anymore. I am going to live and be happy and start loving myself. I want to keep evolving this healthy body image so that one day if I ever have a daughter she doesn't go through the emotional turmoil that I have dealt with over something so silly.
After I turned thirty and decided that I was not going to live the next thirty years of my life struggling with my own brain, I decided to do something completely out of the normal for me.
For this task, I called my friend and amazing photographer, Natalie Mancuso to assist in this little project. I wanted to take pictures of myself baring skin and force myself get out of my own head and comfort zone. I knew with my vision and her artistic eye, we could create something really beautiful.
I gave these photos to Canean on our anniversary and basically shocked the hell out of him. (He totally never would have expected me to do this.) You can call them boudoir if you will, I guess that's what they are, but to me and to us they were more than that. And for once I looked at a photograph and didn't pick it apart, I just simply felt beautiful.
By sharing this with you, I am vulnerably stripped. Stripped from the thing that has messed with my confidence for my whole life, stripped from the world's view of what I have to be, and stripped from not accepting myself anymore.
This is for all of you women out there who every morning battle with believing that you ARE beautiful. Maybe you can start this journey with me and start loving yourself the way God created you...because we all are beautiful and that's the truth.
You don't have to look like the woman standing next to you, or the model in the magazine. You just have to love yourself and embrace what makes you different than everyone else.
Be vulnerable with me.
All Photography by Natalie Mancuso Photography.
Follow her on Instagram: @IAMMOMOO
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*This post was inspired because I read about a lady on a mission for change. It's a documentary called EMBRACE. You should definitely check it out. I figured if Taryn Brumfitt, the founder of EMBRACE, could put herself out there, then so could I.