The Body Project::Learning to love ourselves

I've been a photographer for close to 15 years now. I've tried my hand at just about every type of photography there is but the older I get, the more I realize how body conscious I am. I've seen the blogs, articles, and inspirational posts that talk about loving yourself, accepting yourself, how to lose weight, how to gain weight, etc. The thing is, I read it. I hear it. I have head knowledge about loving myself, how to lose weight, how to accept myself as is... doesn't mean I'm very good at it. I remember thinking that by my 30s, I'd have it all figured out.... hah! That's a laugh right? #adultingishard I definitely don't have it all figured out and am learning that I never will...and that that's ok. I work with men and women of all shapes, sizes, & ages and I'm discovering that no matter your age, race, gender, size, or shape, that you're still going to struggle with insecurities. You're going to meet people that could never grasp your struggles and you're never going to be able to grasp some other people's struggles...However, once in a while, you'll meet those special people that get it. They struggle with the same things you do. 

One of the hardest things I've had to learn (and trust me, I don't always remember this) is that I really am as beautiful as my husband, family, and friends tell me. I don't feel that beautiful. I feel like a bumbling idiot most of the time who's a big goofball haha! Poised and classy...I wish! BUT...as the years pass, and I watch my friends struggle with this same thing...our bodies aren't  as perky as we'd like anymore, our weight goes up and down, wrinkles...wrinkles everywhere... aches and pains in places that we've never had before, and kids. My friends and I have begun talking about how our kids hear so much of how we talk about ourselves and how their children are beginning to mimic this, be it good or bad. Shocking right? #notreally So, as you can see, this has been rolling around in my brain for quite some time. Now, we're adopting and the idea of how I talk and think about myself has taken on a whole new meaning. I don't want my kid thinking badly about themselves. That's not ok when they should be loving the body that they're in! #canihearanamen 

One of my favorite sessions to do are boudoir sessions. Every single woman I know that has come to me, be they big or small, short or tall, black, white, red, yellow, all have major worries when it comes to posing in these lingerie pieces for their husbands, boyfriends, etc. My job is to make you look the best possible but the responses I get from the significant others might surprise you... Yeah, they love them haha a LOT! but, I also hear a lot of "Man! My wife looks amazing but, you know, my wife is the sexiest when she's wearing no makeup." "My girlfriend's so sexy but don't make her look too fake/plastic." "Don't airbrush too much. I love natural." Y'all, even the ladies I've worked with have said how these sessions FORCED them to see themselves the way their guy saw them! Ladies and gents, we are far too hard on ourselves! Everyone wants to look their best and everyone has their hangups with their bodies but we have got to do better about showing ourselves some love, y'all! It's the imperfections that make us so perfect to each other! No one wants to love a friend, wife, or husband that has no imperfections! Because no one can reach that standard and then you just feel crappy that you'll never attain that perfection. 

SO, as I began to think through all of this, it became apparent that it was time for a project about learning to love ourselves... and I had to be a part of it because I can't say that we should learn to love ourselves and then not stand up here too and be vulnerable #heregoesnothing For this, particular project, I gathered several friends who have struggled with weight (yeah I'm talking about me too) - be it weight gain or weight loss - and we wrote all of these awful words on ourselves, that demean us, that we've either said to ourselves, or heard other people say to or about us:

It was tough to write these awful things on us...heck it was tough to ask my friends what some of the meanest things they'd heard were. It made for a heavy atmosphere. But then we began wiping off the ugly words. The saying that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me isn't necessarily true. Some of these things were said to us many years ago...and yet they stuck with us. However, as we began to wipe off this nasty verbiage, you could see that instead of remaining victims, we'd CHOSEN to grow from them. To live. To laugh. To love ourselves:

Are we perfect? No. Do we backslide and have to get back on track with loving ourselves? Heck yes! More than I think any of us would like to admit haha But I'm so thankful that each of us are continuing to learn how to love ourselves, to grow, and show a lot more kindness to not only us but to others. None of us are perfect and you never know when someone needs a little pick me up. Let's all learn to love ourselves a little more. Show a lot more kindness. and may we never stop trying to attain that love and growth.