I’ve never liked it. In fact, for the majority of my life, I’ve hated it.
I’ve been ashamed of it when it was thin, when it was obese and when it was everything in between. I’ve spoken to therapists and psychiatrists about my body hate. I’ve cried about it more times than I could ever count. I’ve hidden from people who I love because of the shame I feel about my body.
I’ve starved myself.
I’ve stuffed myself.
I’ve done things I could never tell a soul about to this body because I’ve hated it.
I’ve struggled with my body image for most of my life. I’ve missed out on so many things in my life because of the disgust and shame I’ve felt towards my body.
But then I read a post that changed everything.
I decided that I had to find a way to make peace with my body. So that I could be an example to my children. I never wanted to hear my daughter say she’d rather be dead than be fat.
Learning to make peace with my body wasn’t easy. I was riddled with health problems and my once “normal weight range” body had ballooned to 237 pounds. I had a doctor who wouldn’t listen to me.
I decided to love my body at least enough to fight for it.
I took charge of my health. I MADE my doctor listen to me. I finally got a diagnosis (auto immune thyroid disease.) I asked for a referral to see a female endocrinologist. She helped figure out why I had gained weight and couldn’t lose a single pound (insulin resistance) and put me on the proper medications.
I am now 59 pounds lighter. I am healthier. I feel better than I’ve felt in years.
But make no mistake about it—I’m still fat.
179 pounds on a 5’4″ frame.
My breasts are saggier than ever. My stomach is, too.
I have more stretch marks and we won’t even talk about my belly button.
But I’ve decided to to love my body anyway. I have to. For my health, for my happiness, for my children.
How do I love my body? How is it possible to love a body that looks the way my body does?
I love it by taking care of it. By taking the proper medications to make sure it functions as it should. By working out every day. By pushing it to do things I never thought it was capable of. By letting my husband enjoy it again, without reservations or hang-ups. By wearing cute clothes again. By treating myself to pedicures and facials.
By just enjoying every minute of my life.
This is my body. This is the only one I will ever have and the only life I will ever live.
Last summer I was offered an amazing gift—a free Boudoir photo session. An amazing photographer had been reading my blog for years—she was impressed with how hard I’ve worked to lose weight with all of my health problems. My first thought was, “What a perfect way to prove my new found Body Love!”
So, I said, “Absolutely, YES!” despite my fears and insecurities.
Oh, the fears and insecurities!
I haven’t worn anything sexy for at least ten years—how would I put on something sexy and POSE FOR PICTURES? I didn’t know if I could go through with it, but I was certainly going to try!
This was a Really Big Deal.
This meant more to me than taking sexy pictures. This was so much more to me than that.
The shoot was fun and not as difficult or scary as I imagined it to be. Laura made me feel totally comfortable. I definitely had a ton of hang-ups. I worried about all of the body parts I was ashamed of (basically, every! single! one!). I was afraid my stretched out belly button would show, or my lumpy thighs. I laughed a lot, though and when it was over, I was so proud of myself for doing it.
When I got the first photo in my inbox, I was nervous. Nervous that I’d hate what I saw, that I’d be embarrassed or ashamed. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I felt… proud. Proud of myself for once, for stepping outside of my comfort zone. Proud of myself for taking the huge step of buying myself something pretty and, dare I say it, sexy to wear. Proud of myself for working so hard every single day for the past year and a half to lose 59 pounds. Proud of myself for all of it.
Yes, my body is flawed. I’m still overweight. I could spend all day picking myself apart, dwelling on everything I hate.
Or, I can chose to embrace it—my body, this experience, who I am.
And love it anyway.
Today, for the first time, maybe ever, I choose to love.
If you’ve ever felt the way that I have, I hope that you can learn to do the same. I hope you choose to embrace and love who you are, whatever your shape or size. And if you ever have a chance, I hope you book a boudoir photo shoot. Because you deserve to feel beautiful and sexy, even if you don’t think that you are. (But, you are.)
Yvonne is a mother of 3 kids ranging from age 6-17 (because she is good at planning.) She loves photography, aerobic dance class, droppin’ it like it’s hot, bean dip and her female endocrinologist. She has been writing about her life and struggles with her body image on her blog , Joy Unexpected since 2002. You can find Yvonne on twitter.