Jennifer: The other day I was sent a link to download images from a recent photoshoot with the amazingly talented Jade Beall. To my surprise, the photos I absolutely adored; were the ones I was most nervous about. I was already over my BMI and I quickly gained over 30 pounds in my second pregnancy. To top it off, I never viewed myself as physically beautiful.
I was always the smart, motivated one. Being the oldest of three girls, I fell right into my birth order requirements and fit my mold. I also grew up being told that I look just like my dad; a dark, hairy Cajun who also happened to be a career Marine. (Nothing against my father, he’s a really great guy, I just didn’t see how a feminine version of him could be beautiful.) My sisters both have light hair and eyes and were always “cute and pretty”. I spent my entire life fitting into the smart mold and trying to find my place in this world.
In junior high and high school I never dated, I always thought it was because of my (lack of) physical beauty. As I think back, it is probably due to the fact that I intimidated my classmates. I accepted the fact that I was not pretty and focused my efforts on my education. As I matured, I became comfortable with the person I am and confident that my beauty comes from within. For some silly reason, it is our norm to think that brains and physical beauty do not go hand in hand, at least for women.
Eventually I found someone as quirky, goofy, and nerdy as me and we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. When my husband would tell me how pretty or beautiful I am I would just attribute it to the fact that he knows me and that he was referring to the fact that I am a beautiful person. The same goes for when my friends and family would pay me that compliment. I had convinced myself that my wiry grey hair (earned from my mother’s side of the family), along with my cellulite, stretch marks, and hairy arms were all things that others would notice first about me.
It was not until I looked at these photos that I realized I am beautiful. One of my friend’s commented after I posted one of the images from the photo shoot,”It’s the real life sparkle in one’s eyes, the warmth we feel from a joyful smile, the multitude of personality qualities that make up the beautiful people we love.” She is right; the first things I noticed in my photos were my eyes and smile. These qualities were what I loved in the photos I was so nervous about. I loved the chaos that is my hair, the well-earned cellulite and finally, I see the beauty before me.
I am so thankful for this journey called life. I have an amazing partner that encourages me and motivates me to pursue my dreams and to be a better person. My son has taught me to enjoy life; sometimes it is important to take a break and play. Finally, after nearly 36 years and two pregnancies, my unborn daughter has helped me appreciate my physical beauty. I am smart and beautiful, inside and out.
I hope that you already see your beautiful body; if not, someday you awaken and are able see that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.