Why is it that it makes me a little nervous to say that I’m happy with how I look? This past year, it seems I’ve seen a lot things on the topic of developing positive body image, and I think it’s a wonderful thing. It’s gotten me thinking a lot about how I feel about myself. Over the years, I’ve been through a few changes – puberty, weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy, giving birth. To me, they are big events in my existence, as they are for many others – things that have changed my perspective on how I live my life and feel about myself. And at this very moment in time, I’m very happy with how my body has been treating me and I it. But it seems that I’m more of an exception to the rule. And that is the part that makes me nervous.
It makes me nervous to say that I like the person that looks back at me in the mirror, even though it’s completely true. I know that I don’t look like a supermodel and don’t expect to be gracing any magazine covers, and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But I always feel the need to issue that disclaimer. Why do I worry that my self-acceptance will be mistaken for conceit? And the question that makes me most nervous – is it because it really is such an uncommon thing for a woman to say?
That last point worries me at lot. There are many beautiful people in my life that don’t see themselves as such. They seem to be the only ones blind to it. Their eyes, their smile, their laugh – they all radiate love, warmth, life – beauty – but they don’t see it. I’m blessed to have such wonderful people in my life, but I wish they could see for themselves what is clearly there for the rest of us to see, and it pains me to hear stories of those constantly struggling with the thought that they are somehow not enough and not deserving of believing themselves beautiful.
These things tend to hit me a bit harder now. I know that young girls in particular struggle with body image, and it breaks my heart. But the idea that I have a little girl who looks up to me makes me not only want to be a role model for her but also do what I can to change the landscape that awaits her and all of her friends in what I know are just a few short years.
I see so many things on this topic that elicit a strong reaction within me. From weight-loss and exercise campaigns that aim to push people to strive for manufactured ideals to projects that celebrate the unique beauty that can be found in every one of us. While the former may infuriate me, the latter inspires me and has me daring to dream that things may be finally changing.
I’ll leave you with two things. The first: an amazing project by photographer Jade Beall. Her work leaves me in awe and the stories of the women photographed have brought me to tears for one simple reason – they are completely real, raw and honest. Something that is particularly precious to me these day. I won’t waste any more words – her work says it all.
The second is a movement in Australia called Makeup Free Me. They have chosen August 30th (this Friday!) to be Makeup Free Me Day. Yes – that means no makeup for a whole day. Why? Well for starters, I learned from their site that 96% of women don’t consider themselves beautiful. Wow. And why do I want to do it? To show that while I love the fun of makeup and dress up, I don’t feel I need it to be considered fit for the outside world to see me. I may feel a bit more polished with my mascara and concealer, yes, but I can have a perfectly lovely day without them. How does the idea of a day without makeup make you feel? The answer to that question is another reason for the movement – to get us thinking about how we feel and why. While I won’t be participating in person in Australia (darn!), I think it’s a cool idea that I want to be a part of. Who else is with me?
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