Ten to fifteen years ago I was 85 pounds soaking wet. I had always been thin like that.
I was always the tiniest in my class and very athletic. Girls “hated” me for being so thin and boys would daily wrap their fingers and thumb around my bicep and make obscene and undesirable comments about my body. “Go eat a cheeseburger” was something I heard daily from people in all walks of my life from peers to teachers… people at my church even. I felt like most days my life was revolved around convincing those around me that I wasn’t anorexic. The bullying got so bad I would purposely over eat while in front of others just so they could see I was eating… but you know of course that back fired because then people would make comments like, “watch her… make sure she doesn’t go throw up!”
Because of that, I developed a deep fear of eating in public. It was like I couldn’t win. Damned if I eat and damned if I don’t. So just the thought of going to lunch with people made me so anxious I would physically feel ill. Most of the time I would order anyway, eat what I could then take the rest home and once relaxed, scarf my meal because I was so hungry at that point. Sometimes I would use the “I’m broke” excuse. The rest of the time I would eat beforehand and just get a drink and dessert to again prove that even though I had just eaten, I could eat some more. This went on for years. And then… I met my husband.
The day we met, happened to be Labor Day weekend at a popular festival near where we lived. I literally met him while he was ordering food from one of the many trucks in the food pit. His very first words to me I’ll never forget. “Hi! I’m Mike. Want a turkey leg??” And me… “No, thank you I just ate.” And, I had… just eaten. He again offered me food two or three times. I laughed each time and kept saying no thank you. But it was the first time ever I didn’t feel like the offering was because of how skinny I was but rather he was just being a gentleman and not wanting to eat in front of me without me having something also.
Time went on and I finally felt comfortable enough to tell him all the issues I had with eating in front of people. He just shrugged and told me I was beautiful and not to worry about it. That is kind of just his personality in general. And you know… eventually I just really stopped worrying. I started cooking for him here and there and we would enjoy meals in. At one point his real and actual concern was that I could actually put away more than him sometimes!
That level of comfort lead to some eventual weight gain. We joked because I would gain a pound or two and we’d celebrate.
He’d say, “Ok Lindsey… one of these days we can’t say Woohoo 502lbs look at me go!!”
Our wedding day I was a very healthy 118lbs. I was so happy, I had some nice new curves to fill out my dream wedding gown. I had shape to my face. And though, I for first time in my life had a little pudge over my belly and some dimples in my thighs, I just over all felt wonderful… I felt beautiful!
That feeling of beauty carried into my first pregnancy. I kept gaining and gaining and gaining, because that is what a pregnant woman is supposed to do right?
I went from 118 to 160lbs during that pregnancy. It was a summer pregnancy so I had a lot of swelling also. However, I had no earthly idea how “big” I really was until I actually had the baby and realized I wasn’t just all belly like I thought I was. My thighs were what I saw as “huge.” My arms, neck and shoulders were also what I thought quite large for my body and my belly and breasts… man… threw me into a near depression.
I began obsessing over my weight again, only this time it was over how much instead of how little. I hated the way my clothes looked on me. I hated how busty I was. And, I hated going to the store because people were still asking me how far along I was. Even though I would chuckle and pat my belly like Santa saying, “oh this, this is post baby!” I would go home and cry. I didn’t want to do date nights with my gorgeous husband because I felt bad about myself and honestly thought people would look at us and judge me.
I think more than anything I was judging myself. I was so used to being judged for being so thin I almost got comfortable with it. So, when I swung the other way into “overweight” I didn’t know how to handle it.
Somehow, (because I’ll be honest I wasn’t working out) by 11 months post-partum I shed most of the weight and was almost back down to my pre pregnancy number. Little did I know though, I was about to conceive baby number two.
I found out I was pregnant again on my son’s first birthday. During this pregnancy I started a new journey not just into my own path of motherhood but into others as well. I started taking a deep interest in maternity photography. This was probably one of the most profound times of positive change in my entire life as far as my self-image was concerned. I finally got it… I saw a light.
Here I was convincing other soon to be mothers that they shouldn’t worry about what pregnancy was doing to their bodies because pregnancy is well… it is beautiful!
I would come home on this high from my photoshoots because I got to yet again make another mama feel beautiful that day. And I realized, I needed to find that in myself also. I took to my photographer pals and decided I wanted to try for a photoshoot a month as my new baby grew inside of me, once again, morphing my body from what it once was.
It was just exactly what I needed to see that no matter where my body was… I was beautiful. My husband was seeing it, my friends were seeing it. It wasn’t the people around me anymore who had issues with my body. No, that day was in the past, left back in high school and college. It was me who had the problem with… with me.
I took that notion, wadded it up and threw it in the trash, where thoughts like that belong. So shortly after baby number two was born I decided to get a fresh new makeover and no matter what my weight I was going to flaunt my natural, God given beauty. I was going to be that glowing, beautiful person that my husband fell in love with 8 years ago. But I wasn’t going to make it about my weight, or my body.
I set out to be a beacon for other moms… through myself and through my camera… I wanted to show other women how beautiful they were, wherever they were in their pre/prime/post motherhood journey.
And wouldn’t you know…when I got my mind healthy and wrapped around some self-love, my body just naturally started falling into place also.
My husband said to me several months ago, “I just love you in your 30’s… you were pretty in your 20’s but you in your 30’s… wow!” And then at other times has said just simply, “I love your body.” At first I thought it was him just accepting that I wasn’t just this slim, perky, tight bootied PYT anymore… but after a while I realized… he is dead serious… he is really loving this mom bod I am currently rockin! Which made me love me even more (and him of course!)
So although it is not the same as hearing it from a significant other… why can’t I help women see and appreciate their bodies for the beautiful creatures they are?
God made us all so uniquely beautiful… we each have our own shape, scars, marks, sags, dimples and age lines… but why is one shape better than another? Answer: It is not. One person’s curves are no less beautiful than another person’s lack thereof and vice versa. One person’s laugh lines are no less beautiful than another person’s. We all have areas of our body we are self-conscious about. And weight… gosh, weight really is just a number when it comes to talking about beauty.
Beauty ladies… true beauty is not just the story board that is our outer self.
Beauty is that confidence we portray when we feel good in the skin we were blessed with. Beauty is your personality punching through the messy bun and spanks on the days you only have time or energy to dress your children. Beauty is the way you carry yourself silently announcing, “See me, not my clothes, not my weight, not my lines, wrinkles, scars or my breasts that have been nursed on for the last however many years… See me! I am beautiful.” It’s an air about us and the way we care for our children and our households and love we project on others around us.
I am taking it upon myself this Mother’s Day season to do everything I can to help the mothers of my community see that in themselves.
Who knows… this may just be my next grand adventure amidst my career… showing mothers that though they have been on a roller coaster of body highs, self-conscious lows and all sorts of in betweens, they have not lost what makes them beautiful… if anything don’t you think our bodies are the perfect showcase for all of life’s beautiful moments we have lived through?
I understand that with the presence of life’s unpredictability, doing a photo shoot is by all means an investment that some cannot afford. That is why I would like to offer up a limited amount of scholarships this season to a few select women who deserve a day to feel beautiful.
Please don’t hesitate to send me an email and share a story… whether it be yours or someone you know and love. My Mother’s Day package this year will be at a discounted rate of $200 and you will receive a “surprise” number of images. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this offer! My books will be open for week day evenings from now through the end of May and sessions will be held in Portland. I also want to give a huge thank you to the amazing ladies with Corpus Christi Moms Blog who came out to model for me! You gals were amazing!
I hope you will allow me to capture and immortalize the essence of beauty which is you!
Happy Mother’s Day! You are beautiful!!