I, like most girls, wanted a thinner waist, bigger boobs, less hairy everything, a smaller nose, feet — and hell, while we’re at it, bigger lips, too. I compared myself to everyone, from other girls in the hallway to women in magazines.
Then one day, I woke up. I can’t tell you the exact day or time, but at some point, I stopped comparing and started to appreciate where this body has taken me and what this body has done for me, and I recognized all the people that have loved me for each hair, pound, and everything else that makes me, me.
Now I look back at old pictures and say to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me! You were worried about your stomach being too big that day?” Absolute nonsense. I’d love to have that belly now!
How much energy was wasted on complaining and feeling insecure when I could have simply been living my life to the fullest? Why didn’t I go to that pool party instead of staying home? Because I felt I wasn’t as pretty as the other people who were going. Ugh. Coulda, shoulda, woulda, right?
I finally learned to embrace my body in my early twenties on the dance floor, of all places. I can thank good friends, good music, and some liquid encouragement for that discovery!
I laughed out loud when I stumbled onto this Pandora commercial. This could have been me! (My husband Scott, who was witness to many of my dance floor sessions growing up, agrees.) Can anyone else relate?
The thought of moving this way now, after having my son Geo, makes my joints cringe. My passion for dancing and my energy level might not be quite what they were in my twenties — now you’ll find me expressing myself on a canvas more often then you’ll see me on a dance floor — but my fascination with the beauty of a body in motion lives on.
Appreciation for, and fascination with, my body increased when my friends started having babies. Watching these beautiful young bodies morph and change while growing another life was inspirational, to say the least. I started looking forward to the motherhood journey happening one day for me too. Even though I was scared to lose the body I had, I knew I would fall in love with my growing tummy that had been “big” to me my whole life.
My pregnancy-induced sentiments inspired me to paint my own “wallpaper” in my bathroom to represent all types of women’s bodies. I thought of all of the women I loved and how different and beautiful their bodies were, and I landed on four designs.
I designed four basic female figures and created a repeat pattern. As I started to paint the four figures repeatedly on the wall, each body began to morph into its own individual version of the design. Body parts became thicker or thinner on some figures, and higher or lower on others. Each figure became an embodiment of the characteristics of women I knew. I would imagine the strengths I admired about her, the insecurities she wrestled with, or how other people viewed her. When I finished painting each figure, I would look at her among all the other bodies and think to myself that she was perfect in her own way, and I wouldn’t want to change any part of her because it was the differences that make each woman I know and love real.
Every woman has a story. Every woman is worthy of being loved exactly as they are. One thing we can count on is that our bodies will keep changing every year. And guess what? That’s okay. No one loves you less because of it. And if they do? Adios!