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Loving yourself can be difficult. As women we fight against culture, media, upbringing, peers, and ourselves (to say the least) in order to find happiness with our self image. But I believe being happy with who you are on the inside and out is extremely important. So I asked three women to share their journeys to confidence and loving themselves. I hope they inspire you.
 
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Kelly Ann

I’m a big advocate for living life intentionally. Having this mindset has shaped me in more ways than I can count. One of the benefits is it has helped me arrive at a positive self-image. A few years ago I put on a little over 20 pounds in less than 3 months. I hadn’t changed anything huge in my lifestyle and some blood work didn’t show anything unusual. It irritated me (to say the least) and unfortunately my self-esteem took a bit of a hit. The next few years I slowly put on more weight but was in denial about it. Although I saw the slimmer Kelly Ann in the mirror, I always cringed when I saw a picture of myself. Could I really be that big? My face was pudgier, my clothes didn’t fit right; I just didn’t look like me. It wasn’t until I finally started accepting my new look that I became comfortable with my image.
So where does “intentional" fit in? I realized that a large reason I gained weight was because I wasn’t proactively (or “intentionally”, if you will) staying fit. It was my own fault, I needed to own up to my choices; but accepting why I looked as I did wasn’t enough, I needed to take some deliberate action. My choices were simple enough and ultimately helped me become comfortable with myself again. First I started to exercise. I didn’t go crazy, just jogging or simple work-outs like push-ups and sit ups before bed a few times a week. I didn’t lose much weight, if any, but just knowing I was trying to be healthier helped me respect myself in a new light. Second, I obtained some clothes that actually worked with my new body shape. That sounds a bit basic, but I don’t think I’m alone on this. I was so concerned about being a certain size that I would try and squeeze into things that were too small. Size is just a number or letter, don’t let it define you. I discovered that wearing an extra-large is more slimming than trying to make my old medium clothing fit over my curves. That being said, it’s amazing the confidence that comes when you’re comfortable in your clothing!
Today I am 5’7” and weigh 177 pounds. Technically I’m overweight, which naturally bothers me, but it doesn’t detract from my positive self-image. I find comfort in knowing that I am deliberately improving myself. Noting small accomplishments, like climbing stairs without getting winded, helps immensely with my self-esteem. It makes me feel good to know that I’m a work in progress, and I love myself for it. I’m a healthier, happier me for living intentionally.

Jessica
  I'll admit that I've had some pretty amazing allies in the battle against our culture's unrealistic body image expectations. I grew up with a mother who never spoke of diets, calories, or pounds, but of health, nutrition, moderation, and activity. I have a father who frequently reminds me how naturally beautiful my sisters and my mother and I are and that God made us that way. I have an amazing husband who tells me I'm sexy at every shape and size--no matter how "curvy" I get!
But I think my main source of contentment with my body is just the sheer, incredible utility of it. My body heals itself, repairs itself, and allows me to try and experience so many wonderful things. This body has climbed mountains, made love, grown beautiful babies (number three is in progress as we speak), learned to dance, tried and failed spectacularly to wake board, sung lullabies, made and consumed many delicious meals, ran races, and learned to take down grown men in self-defense. When I focus on the amazing function and utility of my body, it's easy to be content with this awesome gift. My body is everything a woman's body should be. And perfect is not one of them.

 Melissa

 My self image is a work in progress. I have become more comfortable with my self image through three things; with how the Philippine people see themselves, through my work on my physical health, and most importantly through working on my emotional health. First I lived in the Philippines for about 18 months from 1997-98. I discovered as the people aged they became more confident in their self image and would gladly tell anyone their age even as they reached the age of 50 and older. I realized that they really respected the wisdom that age brings. I proudly claim that I am 38 years old and enjoy the wisdom these years have brought me. 
I then became more comfortable with my self image as about two years ago. I made the goal of being healthier physically. I wanted to lose weight, but more importantly I wanted to be more active with my children. I began signing up for 5ks, walking outside, enjoying the outdoors, eating healthier foods, and gaining strength through various types of aerobic exercise. I started feeling stronger, enduring longer exercise, and the frosting on the cake was I actually lost 80 lbs! 

  Even though I looked and felt better, the big changes in feeling comfortable about my self image came in working on my emotional health. I've had a poor self image from child hood because of bullying, low self confidence, and low self esteem. I started seeing a therapist, who helped me work through “triggers” which are objects, smells, etc. that cause a memory reminding me of poor self statements, i.e. “I’m not good enough.” I am learning that body image is a work in progress. Being comfortable with ones self is more about “who” I am and are you a good person? Do I care about helping others? Do I care about my self, because I know I have others who care about me? These questions then lead to, do I have empathy for others and do I love others for who they are unconditionally? When it came down to it, those I know who are truly empathetic and love others for who they are, they are comfortable with their self image. That’s who I want to be viewed as, someone who is empathetic, who truly cares about others. So, it’s the day to day changes of seeing others, especially my children, husband, friends and new people I meet, for who they are. Therefore, I say my self image is a work in progress and am comfortable with who I am becoming. 
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I hope you enjoyed reading their experiences. I love that all these women shared different but inspiring stories. Aren't they just beautiful? As I photographed each lady it struck me at how unique, yet stunning each woman was. Take a look at these pictures again. I see beauty when I look at them. And in this season of love I'd like you all to take a step back and see just how beautiful you truly are! Have a splendid Love Day!
 

2 comments

  1. It was really nice to read other women's perspectives on their bodies, its hard to accept yourself sometimes

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  2. It is really tuff! Hopefully these stories were inspiring.

    ReplyDelete