I talk about loving yourself a lot. like, a lot a lot. It’s the foundation of my life so it’s the foundation of what I do and I hope it is the foundation of why you want to be photographed. Just because I’m obsessed with myself now doesn’t mean it was a lonnnng road of insecurity, starting way earlier than I can be comfortable with, even though all the factors for a healthy, happy self concept were there- like a nuclear family, a mother who would never tear herself down in front of me, a good group of friends and an EXTREMELY cushy lifestyle. But, none of that matters when corporations are masters at selling insecurity.
I remember being eight or nine, and feeling insecure about how my thighs looked when I sat down. How they were soft and wide and I thought that made me fat. When I would go to my grandmas in the summer I was petrified that I would gain weight because I was relentlessly being fed sugar the whole week. I’d step on the scale every night.
I was lucky enough (sarcasm) to start puberty early, so while my friends were still tiny and thin in fifth grade, I was tall and growing hips and boobs and my stomach got soft and the clothes at Aeropostale didn’t fit me right. I would only wear board shorts to the beach because in my mind my inner thighs were the worst thing about me. I remember writing down my plans for a liquid diet at 11. It lasted an hour but I was so hell bent on losing weight and I was barely in middle school.
I was 14 when someone offhandedly made a comment about how big my hips are at a pool party and that shit STUCK with me. This was before being thick and wearing mom jeans was cool and there was no loving representation of any body type that wasn’t stick thin. I hadn’t made peace with the fact that my damn bone structure would never allow me to be straight and narrow like I idealized. So from then on I hated my hips. My freshman year I wore baggy clothes and picked myself apart all the time.
Sometime in later high school it clicked. I was hating myself for no reason and it took so much energy and time and I didn’t want to go through life that exhausted. And so I think I just realized one day that I actually didn’t have to hate myself and it was a lot more fun to love myself.
Soon after graduating high school, I stepped away from Christianity after five years of it being the center of my life. It was lonely AF but also I was so desperate to find out what I actually believed, and I realized that when I was full of love for myself, I could exhibit the kindness, love and humility that the Bible had taught me, without having to subscribe the doctrine. At the time it seemed like the answer to everything.
Halfway through college, I went through an earth shattering break up wherein I lost my two best friends at the time and felt like a PIECE OF SHIT. I was so anxious I wasn’t eating, I was isolating myself and had to tune out a lot of shit and pull it together for myself! And I did! I remember coming out of that time feeling soooo proud of myself and feeling more in love than ever. Through college I dated some horrible people and it was more of the same process of self destruction>feeling like a piece of shit>coming out better.
My time in Portland was one of the HARDEST times with my body for a lot of different reasons. I was depressed and gaining weight and felt like I couldn’t mentally keep my head above water. I was in a brand new relationship, living together across the country and felt like I was losing my identity. I had an abortion just three months after moving there, immediately got an IUD that caused constant pain, so it felt like I was at war with my body for the first time in my adult life. I worked crazy hours at a physically stressful job, was drinking a lot, eating horribly and just was completely ungrounded in myself. I was working so hard to make peace but I couldn’t. It wasn’t an easy decision to move home but it was for the best.
I’m happy to report that I’m back on my bullshit aka being mostly obsessed with myself save for a few off days. I’m learning to accept and eventually appreciate my belly that pokes out a little bit, and that my thighs are forever touching and being at peace with the fact that my body will probably get softer and softer as I get older. I am SO grateful for the representation I’ve allowed onto my instagram feeds that shows me that softness is BEAUTIFUL, for brands that don’t make a fuss about featuring models who aren’t straight-sized, for body positive influencers who challenge diet culture, fat-phobia, and the patriarchal, corporate beauty standards that have NEVER FREAKING SERVED US. Times are so different from when I was 8 and freaking out about my thighs, and I can only hope to be a part of the movement that pushes against the evil that stole my adolescent joy.
So that’s my story. It was a little exhausting, very nostalgic and I’m on the verge of tears finishing it (I’m PMSing so don’t @ me. my body might be soft but I’m sure as hell not lmao). It’s not a finished process. It’s recursive. I could wake up tomorrow and hate some random thing about my body but I’ll always come back to being in love with myself. Thank god, because it’s the best way to live.
And to you: wherever you’re at in your story. keep going. work towards making the decision to love yourself. That relationship is the most important thing in your life. I am wholly rooting for you to fall and stay in love with yourself.