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What I "really" look like - healthy body in unflattering & flattering photos

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Monday, April 15, 2013

I am a beautiful woman.

I say this not to sound arrogant or narcissistic, but to point out a reality that I often struggle to acknowledge and accept with humility. I am beautiful, and so are you.

We as women have such deeply rooted self-esteem battles, that are ever aggravated in the bombarding of daily media we face. We’re constantly measuring ourselves against the woman next to us, the face on the magazine cover, the girl in the commercial, the blogger, the facebook friend whose Instagramed “selfies” are filtered over unrecognizably. There is no shortage of ways to fall short in the measures of beauty we hold ourselves to. It’s obscene, really.

And it’s bull. It’s utterly insane, self-degrading and abusive, and makes no sense at all. How can we live a life of health and happiness if we are constantly beating ourselves down? Constantly comparing ourselves to the appearance and standards of others? There is no safety or self-esteem in a life like this. Only self-hatred and a constant feeling of lack.

I’ve been struggling with this on and off for my whole life – much like you have, I’d guess. When I decided to embark on a journey toward a more fit body and mind, I knew that losing weight wouldn’t solve all my problems. (And it didn’t.) Sure, I felt better in a healthier, smaller and stronger body, but the mental hurdles I faced still kept me cycling in and out of self-abuse and talk. I’d look in the mirror and ONLY see the cellulite. I’d scour magazines for health tips and beauty tips and the best workout to “tone my abs.” It didn’t matter that my weight was healthy, my body strong and capable, or that my husband adores me—only that no matter how hard I tried, I could never get those six-pack abs, that cellulite-free butt or that tiny waist. I could try on a pair of size four jeans in one store—and feel like I was on top of the world!—then go to the next and barely squeeze into a “juniors” (ha!) size 11, and then feel like I was fat and gross.

Admittedly, I sometimes still have these feelings. I have low-self esteem days here and there, and wonder if I’ll ever just be OK and happy in my skin.

But those days are few. And I am proud to say that MOST days, I truly do believe I am beautiful and don’t need to measure up to any of the other women I see. Because I’m me, and I’m healthy and worthy and good as I am.

I’ve had these thoughts on my mind a lot in the past few days since I read this very inspiring blog post by Fit Mama Training. Check it out here:

She posts a chain of photos of her real, beautiful and healthy body in some unflattering and flattering angles. It was so inspiring to read her words of confidence and truth – I felt the desire to do the same.

So, my friends, today I share with you some real photos of my healthy body, in more and less flattering angles. They’re not filtered or edited, just real unprofessional quick shots from today.

We start this morning… post-shower, wet hair and no makeup. I have a few blemishes, and usually do. I’ve always struggled with feeling ugly whenever I get breakouts (which has been almost always, from about age 12 to 25), and I’m trying to be more gentle with myself and not “attack” my skin at night (since abusing it by picking only makes it angrier and worse!).

Torso shot… not flexing, not slouching… just standing. I don’t have a “perfectly toned core” and no matter how thin I’ve gotten in the past, I can’t get definition or much for a defined waist. It’s just how my body is shaped and that’s okay. I can “pinch an inch” around my hips and tummy. I also have stretch marks on my hips and thighs and butt, and I have tiny breasts. All these things are okay, and don’t make me less beautiful.

Here is a more flattering angle, in my yoga booty-shorts and sports bra. I weighed myself after breakfast and workout today, and I’m around 150 pounds (5’10”). This is on the high side of maintenance for me, but it’s easy to fluctuate between 147-151 without effort. When I try to keep my weight between 143-145, it takes more effort—careful eating and more rigorous exercise. For the few pounds difference, no one notices but me. And I don’t care that much anymore.

Squattin’! Leg muscle definition, strong booty.

More flattering angle. Sucked in, flexed tummy. Not much definition, but lots of muscle!

Less flattering angle. Different lighting, slumping down, pooching out over shorts. Baby-love handles and soft pooch. Still okay.

Less flattering angle. Slumpy slouchy. Intentionally pooching out belly and hunching over. Not so cute? Still okay.

GROSS FACE! Slumpy hunchy. Rippled “belly fat.”

Pulled the shorts waistline down a bit, and I can REALLY stick out the belly. Looks like I could lose a little fat here, doesn’t it? Could make a good “before / after” photo, even just compared to some of the more flattering pics above!

Booty-shot. Not perfectly toned. I have cellulite. That’s okay. This booty can squat, balance in yoga poses and run me far!

More flattering shot, differently lighting. Flexing abs.

Difficult behind-the-head-mirror-back shot. I have muscle back there.

All dressed up and made-up! Normal day look for me. Flattering lighting and angle.

Unflattering face. Double chin!

Big grin! Less cute angle, but real me. I have little wrinkles and blemishes.

Different lighting, different look. Still okay!

Full body shot, all dressed up and accessorized.

That’s me, folks. Lots of angles, lots of realness. And I’m beautiful, and so are you.

My hope in sharing these photos and thoughts is not to give myself an ego-boost. I don’t need that from you, as I’m learning to boost myself in a healthy way each day. I’m hoping to give YOU a shot of confidence, knowing that you are gorgeous and worthy, with or without a filter or photoshop. Don’t compare yourself to me, because you’re NOT me. Ya get what I’m saying?

You are uniquely and perfectly YOU. And that’s enough. Because you’re enough.

Stop all the comparison. Stop trying to make your body like someone else’s. Stop the “fitspiration” pages collecting photos of people with totally different genetic makeup than you. You won’t look like them, even following their workouts and diet plans!

Today, I challenge you to see through the judgment, through the comparison, and the unflattering angles. See that you ARE enough, you ARE beautiful, and you CAN be healthy and happy in your skin.

Be beautiful. Be you!
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