I don’t care where you fall on the spectrum of gender, sexuality, class, race, or religion. You deserve to be loved and cared for, to experience the best that life can offer. You deserve a friend that knows how to listen with all of themselves, to not hear but to understand you. You deserve to grow old and look in the mirror, seeing your beautiful smile lines, love handles, stretch marks etc., in all their glory. I could go on and on forever about this, but I have to stop so that I can study for semester exams. I hope you all are enjoying your holidays, stay safe.
This is a message to all the followers who started following me or want to follow me simply because my body looks good. I have news for you.
Today, 4 months ago, I gave birth to a baby boy. This is us on his first trip to the beach.
This boy is my world. Being a single mom isn’t easy but he is the light of my life and I can honestly say I’m proud to be his mother.
Going back to my thirsty followers. As you may or may not realize, pregnancy changes a woman’s body. In my case, I gained over 100 lbs and after recovering fully, lost about 70 lbs. All that in the span of a year. You know what that does to the human body? If you don’t know, you’re in luck. I’m going to show you.
I’m not apologizing for the crappy webcam quality of the photos either.
I have stretch marks. God do I have stretch marks. My boobs are uneven and a little saggy from breastfeeding. My hips are significantly wider. I have a bit of flappy skin on my stomach. I have rolls when I bend at my waist.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am beautiful
I stand before the internet in my bikini bottoms and a sports bra and expose what I was ashamed of for too long: my real body.
If you can’t stand to see skin that has stretched to accommodate a rapidly growing human being for 40 weeks, unfollow me. If you can’t handle my love for my uneven breasts that readily supply vital nutrients to my baby, unfollow me. If you can’t accept my body the way I have learned to accept it, unfollow me.
You only have one body in this world. You’re the one who lives with it all. the. time. Your body works so hard to keep you alive. It may not live up to your expectation of perfect but damnit, it’s trying. It’s trying every day and every night to keep you here and to keep you healthy to the best of it’s abilities.
I am tired, so tired of seeing people being torn apart for loving their body. I hope that these photos help others see the importance of loving yourself.
Kelly: In essence this is just about the truth of where we are at. How I am feeling about doing something thats a bit risqué or vulnerable? I am feeing quite confident and strong. When we’re children there is such a healthy forum of curiosity and erotisism. Whether it’s through touching or playing make believe or hiding together in a dark closest. There is healthy exhibitionism, where you flaunt your body. You’re ten years old and you’re dancing around naked in front of your family and it’s so normal. But then something happens. So (taking part in this) for me, is just a return home.
I have found that when you’re in your erotic sexy body confidence you get filled with this … it’s like a nectar … it’s like a juice … it’s like a battery life and everything you do is so much more charged, and people can feel that, so it’s like you’re a walking energy source for everyone else as well.
Charlie: Where am I at right now? I am probably playing it down a bit. I am acting pretty cool but in reality … I haven’t given it too much thought and I am looking for a bit of guidance. I probably haven’t had massive body issues in my life … I did used to be a little ‘fat’ and then a few years ago I got a bit ‘skinny’ and there were a few comments here and there but I didn’t really care because I knew I was going towards something else. I guess my intention (for this project) would be to reclaim my body, be in it as much as possible throughout the process and not think so much about “how does this look?” Just try and be like a kid.
Kelly: At the beginning of our relationship I was a little less free in my sexual expression, because I was more self conscious about parts of my body, or being seen fully naked. I feel like now, I definitely still have days where there’s parts of my body I have got a bit of self loathe towards … I feel like some days I look better than others … it’s all a mental thing. But (when it comes to) Charlie and I … I feel really supported, I have never felt judged for my body. He just always compliments, always lovingly caresses.
Very early on we asked each other “what parts of your body do you not like?” and then developed a certain tenderness around them. Like my thighs, I’ve always had a feeling that they’re quite muscular and athletic, maybe a bit bigger than the ‘ideal’ and now Charlie helps me through that. Whether it’s developing soft tickles or touches around them or telling me they’re sexy or loving them in general - kissing them, touching them … it’s really nice. There is a lot of body worship and support in that way. When you’re standing there naked and you can feel the other persons hunger for you and joy and zeal over your body …
Charlie: … I think that’s the biggest thing. With Kelly … if I am standing there naked, she’s loving it. There is no judgement. So I am not actually sure, if I was with someone else, who was maybe like ‘ew’ … I don’t know how that would effect me. I don’t know how strong the belief is that my body is beautiful. I think it’s strong, but maybe thats just because I have the love and support from Kelly.
Do I think my relationship with the female form has changed? I think the main thing is that I now place more importance on appreciating the essence of a person, and that’s where my energy goes to. So there is often very little judgement because I feel that I can see through bodies. Females bodies - I have always had resect for them, but when I was younger and surrounded by heaps of guys talking about it … you can definitely fall into the trap of having conversations like “oh yeah, she’s like a 7 out of 10.” I did that from like 15-18 (years old).
Kelly: In a long term relationship especially, it is so important to celebrate his body and him to celebrate my body. Because it can become so normal, you know, you’ve seen each other naked so many times, it’s like you’re clothed. So if Charlie comes in the room after a shower and drops his towel I stop what I am doing and I’m like “ooo baby!” Or he takes off his top and you’re like “oh yeah” even if you’re not feeling sexual. You just do it because its celebrating the persons body and you know it makes them feel good. I think that’s hugely beneficial.
Charlie: It’s so easy to start negative circles where it’s like - you don’t appreciate them, so they feel bad about themselves, which makes you appreciate them less because they’re shining less.
Kelly: Negative circles like that … I think they stem from a fear of ‘I don’t want this person to grow’. I don’t want them to know how good they are because then maybe they will leave me. I don’t want them to know how sexy they are because maybe that means I’m less sexy. But if you’re like … “you’re fucking sexy” … you give them a platform to shine for you …
Charlie: … And you give yourself a platform to shine as well, because its like … Stand up together!
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF DURING A BAD BODY IMAGE DAY:
1. Recognize that fat isn’t a feeling.
There are always underlying emotions that we attach to feeling fat. When the “I feel fat” thoughts start up, try to identify what you’re feeling underneath the body dissatisfaction. Are you feeling lonely? Anxious? Invisible? Scared? Ashamed? Inadequate? Whatever the feelings are recognize that they are separate from your body.
2. Treat yourself as you would a friend.
Because it’s difficult to be kind to ourselves in the moment when the body hating thoughts take over, try responding to your thoughts as if you were supporting a friend. What would you say to someone you loved who was battling your same struggle with body image?
You wouldn’t tell them to not eat for the day in order to compensate for what they ate the previous night. You wouldn’t tell them to punish themselves for their body size through over-exercise, self-harm, or abusive eating habits. You wouldn’t tell them they were worthless or unloveable because of their weight. So why do you tell yourself these things? Break the cycle and start treating yourself like a friend–you deserve that kindness and love from everyone, especially yourself.
3. Recognize that you are so much more than the size of your body.
What you look like does not define you. It doesn’t discount your worth as a human being. You are so much more than a number on the scale. As a living, breathing, feeling human being you have inherent value. You are special and important and loved. You exist and therefore you matter.
Your appearance is such a small part of who you are, and it certainly doesn’t warrant enough power to discount the person you are inside. You aren’t your body or your weight–you are your goals and dreams and passions and values. You are your strengths and talents and insight. You are a soul and a spirit and a force of nature. Your body does not define you.
4. Shift your focus from the external to the internal.
Make a list of all the people you look up to and are inspired by—not because of their weight or appearance, but because of who they are and what they do. Write out all the qualities they have that make you appreciate and value them.
Use the list as a reminder that it’s the internal things—our dreams and passions and goals and morals and insight and character—that truly define who we are and draw people to us; not how we look.
You are no exception to this. Try making your own list of things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with appearance or body size. If you have a difficult time creating one, ask some friends and family to help you.
5. Think about what you want to be remembered for after you die.
I don’t want people to remember me for what I looked like, what size jeans I wore, or what I weighed. I want to be remembered for the person I am. I want to be remembered as someone who brought about positive change in the world. I want to be remembered as loving friend, partner, and family member. I want to be remembered for my passions and my creativity and my strength. I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference. What do you want your legacy to be? Chances are, it doesn’t have to do with weight.
6. Instead of focusing on the size of your body, start focusing on what your body allows you to do.
The human body is an incredible force. When we get caught up in the number on the scale and size of clothes however, we forget just how lucky we are to have a fully functioning vehicle to engage in life with. So stop hating your body for the way it looks and start acknowledging and appreciating your body for all that it allows you to do.
Make a list of each activity and feat your body helps you to partake in and accomplish. If you want to be even more specific, list out each body part and describe all the things you wouldn’t be able to do without it. Your body is strong, powerful, and beautiful, regardless of it’s size. Choose to treat it with love, compassion, and gratitude instead of hate and judgement.
7. Challenge your negative thoughts.
You may not be able to change the way you feel about your body today, tomorrow, or a month from now, but you can begin the process by challenging the thoughts in the moment. Write out a dialogue between your negative voice and a healthy voice. If you have a hard time coming up with positive counters to the negative thoughts, pretend that you are speaking positively about a friend or loved one.
Even if you don’t believe the things you say to counter the voice, it’s still important to speak out against it, because each time you argue with the thoughts, you are taking away some of their power and reclaiming your own. The more you challenge the thoughts, the less you will believe them. The more you argue back, the easier fighting the voice will become.
8. Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
There is a lot of built up energy and emotion underlying the way we feel about our bodies. Holding in how we feel or engaging in behaviors to numb out may make us feel better in the moment, but in the long run, it doesn’t remedy the pain we feel. It doesn’t make us feel better and it keeps us stuck.
Releasing the energy and painful emotions underlying our body shame requires us to feel our feelings. Whether that means throwing a tantrum on the floor, venting to a friend on the phone, punching a pillow, screaming in your car, or crying in bed, you need to allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let go of the judgement you have about what you feel and recognize that you are feeling these things for a reason. Give yourself permission to release your emotions and let everything out.
9. Do self care.
When you’re struggling with body image, distract yourself with healthy coping mechanisms. Take a bubble bath, get a message, ask for a back scratch, cuddle with a pet, make plans with a supportive friend, watch your favorite movie, get a manicure, listening to calming music, do deep breathing–whatever it is, make sure it’s something self-soothing and helps you get out of your head.
10. Be kind with yourself.
You may not be able to control the way you feel about your body, but you can control what you do in response to how you feel.
Instead of beating yourself up, you can choose to treat yourself with compassion. Instead of engaging in unhealthy and abusive behaviors, you can choose to do self-care. Instead of treating your body as an enemy, you can choose to treat it as a friend. Instead of isolating yourself, you can choose to reach out for support and surround yourself with positive people who make you feel loved and accepted. Instead of agreeing with the negative thoughts, you can choose to challenge them.
***You have more power than you think–don’t let the way you feel about your body keep you from living.
Coping with bad body image days may not be easy, but it is possible.
I will teach my daughter not to wear her skin like a drunken apology. I will tell her ‘make a home out of your body, live in yourself, do not let people turn you into a regret, do not justify yourself. If you are a disaster it is not forever, if you are a disaster you are the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. Do not deconstruct from the inside out, you belong here, you belong here, not because you are lovely, but because you are more than that.’
~ Azra T “Your hands are threads, your body is a canvas”
This is for my LGBT*QIA Brothers/Sisters of color who have ever felt alone in times of need and/or had moments wherein they questioned their struggle for social justice. Please know that you are NEVER alone, because I love you all and I appreciate your daily courage, strength and commitment to combat the socio-historical injustices within our societies.