This post is slightly (okay, much) more personal than usual. Not only because the following photographs are of myself, but also because I am going to delve into a topic outside of photography. It's a subject that will hit home for most women and I am going to shamelessly use the only soapbox to which I have access in order to address it. The dreaded body image topic, dun dun duuuuunnnnnn! Yes, that was my (almost successful) attempt at foreboding music. Don't fret! This time the story has a happy ending. . .
Like most women, I have spent my entire teen and adult life counting calories, doing crunches, and cramming my booty into the tightest jeans I could find. All to still come up feeling just short of beautiful. It's pretty common knowledge that one of the most amazing moments in a woman's life is the moment when she finds out she is pregnant. However, no one ever talks about the moment immediately following that moment. The moment when a woman sees a lifetime of hard work at maintaining her figure come crashing down around her in an entirely out of control rain of hell fire. While pregnant I was scared out of my mind and felt totally helpless about the changes happening to my body. I often referred to my body as "the traitor" and avoided passing mirrors in my own home. During my first maternity photo shoot (with my dear friend and talented fellow photographer, Jessica Heriot) I felt incredibly self-conscious and covered up as much as possible. I had fallen victim to the pop culture beauty standards none of us are entirely immune to.
Then, at thirty eight weeks along, something changed. I felt that I started to get to know my baby. It all became real. Soon he would be here, and I would have a baby. I, ME, would have a baby! Suddenly I saw my body in a whole new light. Instead of being worried about the changes to the way my body looked, I was overwhelmed by a complete awe of what it was accomplishing. I made a vow to never again disrespect myself by taking my body for granted. After all, I was creating life! What could possibly be more amazing than that? The revelation that in order to appreciate what my body was achieving I must also appreciate the way it looks was nothing short of miraculous. So I decided to put my new found appreciation to the test; by going all in and photographing myself nude.
I was frightened beyond words, but I did it. And afterwards, I have never either felt, or felt that I looked more beautiful. Somehow I had gone even beyond the acceptance I had once regarded as unachievable, to genuine love of my body (all round, dimpled, stretch mark covered 185 pounds of it). I am sharing this experience in hopes that somewhere out there on the interwebs is another pregnant woman going through the same struggle, and maybe after reading this she will be able to also see her body for how incredibly wonderful it really is. Maybe it won't be immediate, and it certainly won't be easy. But if my neurotic, negative body image riddled self I can do it, so can you. :)