I went to do a photo shoot this past weekend with a group of my girlfriends - I thought it might be a giggle...I never thought that it might be a day of amazing growth and realization for me...
I was talked into it a week before after a few bottles of wine..."He is a fantastic photographer..." I was intrigued, and thought that I might enjoy the day out, even if the pictures turned out a bit rubbish.
All of the other girls were eagerly discussing the lingerie shots that they were planning, and how nervous they were to be considering nude shots, and all that I could think about was my saggy tummy... my sad, droopy breasts...the excess skin left over from losing over 100 lbs...not particularly sexy...maybe this wasn't such a great idea after all!! I am not a "lingerie" kind of girl. I tend to stick with comfort over fashion at the best of times, so I was really at a loss as to what I was going to do!
The other girls that I was going with were all slim and stunning - three of them had breast implants and one a tummy tuck (after significant weight loss), and there was me...once again the "fat girl" of the group...isn't it sad that even after all of my fantastic accomplishments regarding my weight and body image that my head automatically went there?? Crazy.
Anyhow, as the week wore on I felt sick every time I thought of what we were going to do, and the morning that we left for the studio, I was feeling faint and overcome completely with sheer terror. What on earth did I think I was doing??
Eventually we got to the studio, and one of the girls who had done a shoot with the photographer before went first, and let us all watch so that we knew what was coming. You do your nude shots first, so that you get the worst over with, and don't have any strap marks etc on your skin. She did some headshots first, then confidently dropped her robe and took a deep breath - it was over within minutes, and we were all admiring her amazing photos. She looked absolutely AMAZING!! I was so proud of her!
I retreated to the dressing room while the other girls took turns getting their first sets of shots taken...I sat and just stared at myself in the mirror. All I could see was fat thighs, stretch marks, rolls, flaws...just UGLY. I burst into tears and hid fro the other girls - what the hell was I thinking??? Who did I think I was trying to be?? I didn't feel like I had any right to be there, and just wanted to leave and forget the fact that I thought I could do this. It was horrible! I haven't felt that bad about myself since I started my weight loss journey.
Thank goodness for amazing friends!! The other girls took me in hand, dried my tears, got me a glass of wine ;) and got me take a few deep breaths. I took a few minutes to myself and just came to the conclusion that if I walked away from this now, then I would regret it for a very long time. breathe deep and get out there and tackle this just like I had tackled my weight loss issues, or my fear of going to the gym and exercising in public, or my fear of running...I COULD DO THIS!!
So, eventually I was the last one who had not taken my first set of pictures... The photographer was really kind, and said if I wasn't ready I could wait a bit more. I said "Nope. Let's do this." Trying to sound more confident than I actually was. I told the girls they could stay if they wanted to, but he kicked them out. I think he knew that I needed to do this one on my own.
We started out with some headshots...getting comfortable with being quite up close and personal with each other - he was BRILLIANT. Kind and encouraging...showing me the differences in the expressions that he was drawing out of me on the various pictures - small changes that affected the entire mood of a shot. It was amazing.
Then he said - "okay, I think we have it...what do you want now??" I explained about the weight loss - how uncomfortable I was with certain bits of my body, but that I wanted a shot for my husband, either of me wearing a sheet, or a sheer dressing gown. Before I knew it, I was on the floor, with my hips swathed in sheer black cloth, and he was snapping away.
I didn't feel embarrassed of my body...I didn't feel afraid of the camera...ME, who spent YEARS hiding my body behind anything available the minute I saw a camera - furniture, friends, children,,,whatever was available! There I was - completely naked on the floor of a studio, with some man taking pictures of me... SURREAL!!!
When he showed me the pictures, my immediate reaction was "Oh my god look at how fat I am still!!" Until the photographer started pointing out things like "See how the light hits your lips there, THAT is what is sexy about this picture"...then we called the other girls in to see... I am such a lucky woman to have such supportive and loving friends!! I will never forget the wonderful and kind things that they said about me when they saw those pictures...and suddenly, I wanted to do some more!!! After all, what was wearing some lingerie?? I had just done naked pictures - NAKED!!! ME!!!!!
By the end of the day I was on a high...running around the studio with the rest of the girls in my underwear...and somehow, in the course of 7 hours, I became PROUD of my body, and amazed at how by sheer will I had transformed it from a 280 lb+ giant couch potato to THIS:
That's MY body.
My body that has grown and nurtured and fed three amazing babies.
My body that has been overfed and under loved for too many years.
My body that I had taken 107 lbs off of.
My body that I have pushed to breaking point on a spinning bike and an elliptical trainer and pounding the pavement.
My body that will carry me through a triathlon in 8 weeks time.
MY BODY that I am PROUD of.
My body that is BEAUTIFUL.
One rainy Sunday is all that it took for me to realize many things... that I am worth all of the hard work...that the results ARE showing...that I still have a ways to go...that I WILL get there...and that I had it in me the whole time....
I have always been beautiful... it has just been a long many years since I have loved myself enough to notice and actually believe it.