Alexis found me on Facebook after giving birth to her 3rd child because she was ready to start feeling beautiful in the gorgeous skin that she is in. Last month she was visiting family in Arizona and asked if I might want to photograph her while she was in town. She shared with me her story of feeling self-loathing since she was a little girl. I had a really deep connection to her emails and was excited to photograph her! I had no idea what she looked like nor did I know how old she was, I just knew she and I shared something in common: overcoming self loathing and transforming it into self love to live more powerful and beautiful lives! We both agree that feeling beautiful is a part of a more enjoyable and whole life, and that we MUST model feeling beautiful in the skin that we are in for our precious children.
Here is what Alexis wanted to share with her photographs: “It’s sad to me how the word ‘beautiful’ has been so cheapened by our culture, that it now only applies to a (very narrow) sort of physical appearance. Beauty is not just physical attractiveness, and physical attractiveness is variable by culture, time period, and individual people’s preferences. I tell my children they are beautiful in the real sense.. they are amazing creatures capable of so much. Their bodies are incredible, miraculous even, all parts working in harmony. Each part different, but working in unity with the other parts. And isn’t that how we would like society to be? Everyone is different, utterly unique, and yet we are united in common personhood. And that personhood is beautiful (worthy, miraculous, incredible) and that uniqueness is beautiful.
I am just an ordinary girl. I started having body issues when I was 10 years old. I remember seeing women on television with ‘the perfect bodies’ and thinking that I wanted to look just like them. That’s when I began to hate my body. I always felt inadequate. When I got pregnant with my first child I gained 80 pounds! After I had her I hated my body even more and had a really hard time accepting my new self. I lost the baby weight fairly quickly, but I had stretch marks everywhere! Even behind my knees. I felt like I always needed to be covered up to be ‘acceptable’ looking. Five months after my oldest daughter was born, I got pregnant with my son. I gained 50 lbs with that pregnancy, and again with my third pregnancy. I really struggled those 3 years with how my body was changing, and how rapidly it was happening.
Some of my friends had babies around the same time, and I adored their bodies whether or not they looked the same as they did before having children or not. I loved their soft tummies and their new marks. I thought they were absolutely beautiful. I had set this unrealistic standard for myself, and myself only. It was really emotionally damaging. I was still comparing myself to the women I saw on T.V. when I was 10. The small box of women society deemed beautiful. After I had my 3rd child, I began thinking about needing to fix the way I viewed myself. Around the same time I came across Jade Beall’s Facebook page and was in awe! So many vulnerable and totally gorgeous women! They were all so beautiful and I learned that their were women like me. Women who, despite their beauty, struggled with their bodies. I then decided that I wanted to love myself. It didn’t happen overnight and is something I’m still working on.
My children are amazing. I want them to recognize and love their individual beauties, and what better a way to teach them than to show them by example? When you start to love yourself life becomes so much more beautiful. I want other women to know that they can love themselves, too! It’s not always easy, but it is possible. Bodies, no matter the size or changing size or condition, aren’t something that should just be “accepted”. They should be cherished and celebrated!!! Every body is beautiful. Every one.”