I’ve never considered myself to be one the “pretty” girls. I’ve always seen my flaws over my attributes. My legs have always been too short, my hips too wide and my butt too big. At 4′ 10″ every pound gained is much more noticeable than on an “average sized” person.
In the past I have been very hard on this body of mine. From corsets to diets to eating disorders, this body has been through the wringer because I’ve wanted to look a certain way. The sad part is, I never saw this as unhealthy.
In high school, I was actually very petite. I was on the JROTC drill team and marched and practiced 3-5 days a week, outside in the Florida heat. No matter what I did, I always felt like I was huge compared to most of the other girls on the team. This low self-esteem, along with stress, led me to being bulimic through most of high school.
Only a handful of my friends knew about my bulimia. No matter how much they tried, they couldn’t get through to me. I just knew I was fat and ugly and told myself they were just trying to be nice.
In 2007, when I joined the Navy, I weight 112 pounds. I was at my “ideal weight” according to the BMI chart, but I was by no means in shape. I couldn’t run the 1.5 miles required and barely passed the PT test to go to basic training.
After I graduated boot camp, I was in the best shape of my life, so far. Being forced to eat properly and exercise has its benefits. Despite having the beginnings of a six-pack, I still felt uncomfortable in a bathing suit and ashamed of my body.
Let’s fast forward to 2013, when I had our first daughter. I’m not going to lie, I lost all 25 lbs of my baby weight in about 2 months. I felt pretty good about myself, but I still hated parts of me. All I could see in the mirror was the belly skin that now sagged down, limp and stretch marked from the 8 pound baby and the c-section that helped deliver her. The breasts that were too big for my small frame, having grown 5 sizes from their already ample size. Over the next 18 months, I gained back all that baby weight and found out I was pregnant again with our second baby.
The second pregnancy was hard, physically and emotionally. I felt so huge and disproportionate. I just wanted to look like like those cute pregnant gals, with the little round baby bump and small chest. I was nearing 200 lbs at the end of my pregnancy (remember, I’m not even 5 feet tall) and I just hated looking at myself in the mirror. It wasn’t until after I had Siggy, that I finally started to appreciate and love my body more.
Having three little girls now has changed the way I look at myself. It’s not that I no longer see my flaws, but it’s how I see them now.
This belly that sags more than it used to, grew three healthy, beautiful babies. The chest that I used to loathe because of it’s size and weight and how big it makes me feel-now scared with the results of a reduction-has fed, nourished and comforted three little people. My arms may be a bit flabby, but they are always there to offer hugs when needed.
I now know that the only way I will ever be able help my children love themselves and their perfect little bodies, is to show them that I love and imbrace my own body.
This is why I chose to photograph women, especially those like myself, who see their flaws more than their outstanding beauty. This is why I put myself and my story out there, so others can see it is possible to overcome your self-image issues. I want to help women see that, though we not look like models in magazines and Victoria Secret ads, we are still perfect and beautiful.
There’s a power inside each and every one of us, sitting just under the surface. We often loss this power to our own negativity and harshness, but it remains there, waiting.
I want to help you embrace this power by embracing yourself. By healing those wounds we have carved in ourselves with feeling of ugliness and unworthiness. I know how empowering and uplifting it is to just feel good about yourself and I want to spread that power like wildfire! I know if we can start seeing the beauty in ourselves, we can spread that beauty to those around us, to our friends and our children.
We have the potential to change the world around around us. To stop the cycle of body shaming and self abuse. We can make this world a better place for our children, where all body types see the beauty and perfection in themselves. I want every woman who stands in front of a mirror to see how gorgeous she really is. I want her to look past the numbers in her jeans and on a scale and see the true beauty that shines through her. I believe anyone can like themselves “on a good day” but to truly accept and love your body for all that it is and all it has been through everything? That’s what body love and body positivity is really about!
I strive everyday to remember to love my body, to smile when I see it in the mirror. To feel the love, strength and elegance that resides inside me. My passion, my calling, is to help every woman I can to do the same. I believe every woman, no matter her height, weight or pants size is absolutely, perfectly flawed. And that is beauty.