I remember the first time a friend of mine showed me a candid photo he snapped of me. You couldn’t even see my face but my immediate reaction was “ew gross.” I immediately followed with a, “My arm looks so fat!” and after seeing that shot, my good mood was gone. Self-loathing weighed down my smile for the rest of the day.
It would be a couple of months until I found the body positive community. I continued to allow negative inner-dialogue and self-loathing thoughts cloud my mind. I knew that I needed to change my thinking but I didn’t know what would work for me.
Eventually, I found all things body positive on Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook. I began watching body positive YouTube videos, listening to body positive and fat positive audiobooks, and actively (that means every day, people) working on my self-esteem. My inner world was changing in big ways, and eventually, I thought to myself, “I need to get a camera.”
I wanted to get a camera for three reasons:
- I want to fill the world with pictures of real people
- I want to improve my relationship with my image
- I want to give power to self-love by embracing me
I realized that I needed to repair this relationship with myself. A picture should not have that power over me. The only way I knew to do this was by slowly taking away the power my “flaws” had over me. After some coaxing from body positive warriors on social media, I decided that I would take pictures of those body parts that I had always loathed: those stretch marks I’ve had since I was 10, that “happy trail” that’s really a haunted forest, my strong “roman nose”, and those chubby arms I’ve always hidden.
I wanted to get comfortable in front of a camera.
So, I took pictures. I set my camera on a self-timer and took photos in my dimly-lit bedroom. At first I was horribly uncomfortable. The negative self chatter was strong and I was not looking forward to looking through the photos. I knew that my inner-dialogue was going to emotionally exhaust me. I thought to myself, “any plans I have for tonight are shot. There is no way I’ll survive this storm”
“Maybe I just need to change the lighting, and location”
So I did.
“Maybe I just need to take my hair down”
So I did.
“Maybe I should change the angle of the camera”
So I did.
“Put on a beanie?”
“Wear my new lipstick?”
After All of this work, trial and error, and a little bit of “you can do it, Kiki” I finally got myself to a place where the photos were, well, tolerable. So, I kept taking them, and then more, and maybe just one more. I got a little bit more comfortable and I actually, maybe, kinda started to feel myself. I started getting a little more smiley, and I even have one shot where I brought my hands in to the picture.
Lo and behold, I got a couple of shots I actually liked.
“Damn girl, you did it. And, you didn’t die.”
All of that being said, I never forget:
- I once said to myself, “You are the most disgusting thing to ever walk this earth.” I was looking directly into my own eyes in the mirror.
- I regularly had sex with men that I wasn’t attracted to and didn’t like being around because I hated my body so much and believed that I didn’t deserve better.
- I believed that ugly men that were rude to me were doing me a favor by having sex with me.
- I used to avoid eye contact because I didn’t believe that I had anything worthy to say and that everyone was smarter than me.
- I used to regularly look at myself in the mirror and repeat things like, “You look like an orphan, your stomach looks too big, your thighs look huge, and your face is droopy.”
- I used to believe that I would be damned to wearing jeans during the summer and never partaking in summer fun because of my cellulite. I had resigned to the life of someone that was “afraid of water, duh.”
- I used to think that I couldn’t smile in photos because my smile was slightly askew and it would “ruin the photo.”
- I used to decline oral sex because I have stretch marks on my thighs and was embarrassed.
There is so much more but I really think I would just be rambling on.
The lesson here is, I have loathed myself for most of my life. I have hated every inch of my body and I finally told myself that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I had lost all of the weight I was “supposed to” lose and I still wasn’t happy. I tried all of the things, and nothing worked. I had to decide that I was going to love myself now. Adore myself now, treat myself now, and unabashedly, confidently move through the world as the person I really am right now.
So, I’ll take the photos, wear the dress, say the words, and do the things that scare me most. Because life isn’t about making yourself smaller (or skinnier) so that other people feel comfortable around you. Life is about, well, whatever you want it to be about.
The Curvy Broke Girl
A Body Positive Blog
A Self- Love Blog