I’m getting older.
There’s no hiding from it. Age will find me wherever I try to hide. My body is getting older too. With each passing year it’s changing, leaving little reminders of the years gone by.
I look back at old photos and I find myself longing for that young body once again. I admire how beautiful I was, how strong my body looks, how happy I seem.
The problem lies in remembering how I felt when those photos were taken and it wasn’t usually happy. I tried to hide from the camera, not feeling worthy of the space the photo would take on the camera’s memory. Each and every time someone said "smile," I worried that my face wasn’t angled properly, revealing my double chin. I wondered if my tummy would stick out or my arms - arms that I inherited from my grandmother - looked large. I would stand there smiling uncomfortably while I mentally erased the picture before it was even taken.
Years later I scan through those photos of myself in years gone past and I wonder why I wasted so much time trying to achieve perfection instead of embracing how beautiful I was in the moment. Why did I hate my body instead of appreciating it for all it truly was?
It was my light bulb moment if you will. Shall I spend the rest of my life finding fault in my body as it is, only to appreciate it when it moves on to the next stage? Or should I learn to love my body in all it’s healthy, strong, imperfect glory?
The choice to love myself is absolutely necessary if not for myself, then for my daughter. Because I don’t want her to spend one day of her life hating her body. My daughter shouldn’t have to question how she looks before taking a picture. I do not want her to pose herself in unnatural ways with her arm jutting out from her hip and her leg strategically placed because someone somewhere said that’s how to look good in a photo. I want her to just live life. Live every day without wasting energy worrying about how she looks. I want her to have photos to remind her of all the wonderful moments in her life. Photos where she’s not trying to hide her insecurities. Photos where she’s just happy.
It would take a bold move to undo the years of mental abuse I exposed by body to.
That bold move for me was a naked photo shoot. Yep, nude and in the buff.
I researched and found a reputable female photographer, who made me feel comfortable in my own skin. I faced her, showing my stretch marks and slightly rounded tummy. I wasn’t ashamed of thick thighs and untoned arms. We worked together on something that made me feel relaxed, beautiful and perfect even surrounded by all my imperfections.
Two hours later I walked out of that studio feeling free, confident, and more beautiful than I have ever felt. I felt stronger and more powerful than I did even as a young beautiful 20 year-old. I carried with me a portfolio of images that will always remind me how perfect my body is.
It took me getting naked in front of a stranger to learn to appreciate each and every corner and fold of this beautiful body of mine, just as it is.
It may have been bold and I was absolutely terrified but what I gained from it will last me a lifetime. I gained a sense of security. A sense of peace. A sense of love for who I am in each and every stage of life; including this softer, rounder, post baby version of myself.
Hopefully, one day, my daughter will look back on photos of me and remember a happy, healthy, yummy mummy.