If someone were to ask you right now, “What do you see as your most beautiful feature?” What would your answer be? For myself, I would say my eyes, maybe my heart. The thought of saying, “my tanned toned legs, or my slender waist, my flawless skin, or perfect perky breast or round shaped butt” NEVER even for a second entered my mind. Especially since I’ve grown older. Sure there was a time in my twenties I might have given you those descriptive words to describe myself. Not now…….
Now I am in my forties, I have given birth to three children, I am, a Gigi, a caretaker, nurse, a wife…. I have worked many long, demanding hours, given every ounce of patience and compassion first at my job, then at home, some days digging deep down when I thought I didn’t even have an ounce left to give in me. I have wiped away tears and even been the source of shed tears, a doormat for others, even for myself. I have been tired to the point of exhaustion. The thought of exerting more energy to exercise, to maintain my physical attributes was not even close to being on my radar. I have a million reasons (excuses) some even valid, on why I am not exercising, if nothing else at least to be healthy. I’ve experienced a past that made me feel like I should hide my physical assets and be ashamed of my God given curves. I hid.
Now, there are times I get up in the morning, look in the mirror hoping to just look presentable enough to start my day, some days not even that. Then there are those days, I look at the reflection staring back at me and wonder, “what happened?” ” How did I get to this?” I decide it is okay! I immediately give myself credit for all I have endured and all I have survived throughout my years and pat myself on the back for the wisdom and experience I have gained. Remembering back to what I felt like even three years ago or five years ago, I make a pact with myself that I will commit to whatever trending diet or workout goal I set for myself, usually more unattainable or unreasonable than realistic. I tell myself, “Beauty is not about what you look like on the outside” “Beauty is about WHO you are, it radiates outward in your actions” Yes, I do to this day believe that beauty truly comes from within and ends with who you are and how you carry yourself, how you make others feel, however it doesn’t change that desire to FEEL beautiful on the outside again, before the extra inches to all parts of my body, the stretch marks, the aging lines appearing on my face. The nagging feeling of just needing a little more sleep while all the tasks needing finishing swirl around like a cyclone in my head.
The common majority of what is acceptable and beautiful is constantly in our faces, everywhere we look, TV, books, the media, peoples opinions everywhere. We are constantly judged. Too fat, too thin, we attack others, what they choose to wear or how, colors, sizes, name brands, how they do their makeup or if they don’t. We judge what should be covered, what is okay to show etc. What is considered thin and beautiful in today’s spotlight was considered malnutrition in my younger years. Never the less, women aging, wise and experienced, there are times we feel very forgotten, judged, overlooked. We too just want to FEEL beautiful on the outside seeing that reflection staring back at us in the mirror. We would like for who we are on the inside to radiate outward and blind the image others see with only their eyes. We too would like our husbands to see our beauty on the outside realizing we can be and are still beautiful in way of the women that we are, all these years later. We too would like to remind them, young and beautiful becomes older and more beautiful just differently.
I came across this this social media post one day. It read something like, “looking for two ladies in the local area to model for me, one for a boudoir session and one for a regular type session, fill out the form below explaining why you would like me to choose you” I remember thinking how much I would love to have photos to remind myself that I am beautiful on the outside despite going through the changes of life and aging. I remember thinking how desperately I wanted to show other women over forty and plus size that we are physically beautiful in our way! I knew I wanted to inspire other women to see that it is okay to feel and believe in our own unique beauty and not feel like we have to hide. Instantly I knew I wanted to be chosen for the boudoir session. I remember thinking “I would love to see the look on my husbands face, when he saw me LIKE THAT” I kind of smiled to myself inside and thought what is the worst that can happen, I don’t get picked, I get picked and hate the pictures and walk away? Still at least I could say I had the courage to do it. I began filling out the application and why I wanted to be chosen for a session and before I had the chance to talk myself out of it I hit send. I remember sitting back after thinking ” oh my goodness, what in the world was I thinking, I can’t possible do that, not at this time and place in my life” ” oh how I’ll be criticized.” “What will my friends say?” “Will my children be embarrassed by me?” “What will my mother say?” Thinking how I would be judged for showing my body that way. I remember waiting to find out if I was picked. Now I had to follow through with my crazy ten minutes of courage I had picked up from only God knows where, because I was chosen. They say be careful what you wish for. I had been chosen for the boudoir shoot, which secretly inside was what I hoped for. I hoped this not only to have beautiful pictures to surprise my husband with but just as much to remind myself that I am beautiful just the way I am. I didn’t need to change my physical appearance to show my beauty, I had to change my mindset to showcase my beauty. I was determined I wanted to set the example, to be an inspiration to other women who felt similar to the way I was feeling, that they too maybe suffered from demons in the past that held them hostage with chains of judgement.
Of course there were several times picking outfits etc. that I was certain I had lost my mind. I had come this far, there was no backing out now. I was on a mission. I was sick to my stomach with anxiety at times. I went through all kinds of excuses, what if’s, second guessing, all of that. Then the day came. I had my makeup professionally done, my hair. All the anxiety and nerves turned into something else. I chose to throw caution to the wind and make the best of the situation I had gotten myself into, to just be “all in” to be what women my age and my size needed. I knew I was going to share my experience, my story, in hopes to reach another woman out there feeling as I did and to touch her heart in a way that made her think differently about aging, being a bigger size, feeling less attractive and show her that everyone is beautiful and to be proud and embrace her own beauty. The most important thing about seeing your own beauty is believing in yourself. Choosing to participate in this photo session was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It refreshed my confidence, I felt a glow on the inside come from deep within. It gave me freedom, breaking free from chains, demons of the past. As I sat there after the photographer finished and was revealing what we had just done, I felt something I cannot even put into words. That was ME! I was speechless in my head. I felt powerful and beautiful ON THE OUTSIDE! I saw myself differently. I paid no mind to the stretch marks I gained over the years, I paid no mind to the evidence of aging on my face or my skin. I felt beautiful at that moment and no one could take that away from me. I am beautiful. Ladies, see your own beauty. We are all incredibly unique, grasp it, hold on to it, grow in it, be proud of who you are on the inside AND the outside. Be confident. Be you! See your own beauty.