This Woman Is
I was never taught that my physical self was beautiful. I often heard –"That shirt is cut too low." "That skirt is too short." "Those jeans are too tight." and on and on. Growing up the first years of my life in a family that was independent fundamental baptist, followed by strict christianity, there was always a sentiment of "your body is a temple". But it only seemed applicable to what I could not do - don't have sex before marriage, don't cause others to lust, don't get tattoos...I could go on. My body was not something to be celebrated. As I grew, my skin stretched further, I began to have curves, and while I used to once love the attention of stares, I realized how quickly I started to feel like prey. Those stares were not kind, assuring stares, those stares were predatory. And when the repressed memories of sexual abuse came back, it only seemed to solidify the idea that my body was not to be celebrated. I've often felt like skin over bones with a place between my legs to be used by others. I did not know pleasure in my physical self, so I just began to hide.
It is never easy to move forward from the past. Sometimes it feels as if it lingers over my head. But around 4 years ago I decided that I would not allow myself to hide in shame anymore. I began to understand that my body is my own, and I get to choose what happens to it. I started to explore and discover my body in new ways. I began to appreciate the curve of my hips, the stretch marks on my legs, the scars of passed time, and the ink of art and memories. For the first time I am seeing the woman in the mirror as beautiful. This woman I see reflected in these images is soft, and also fierce, brave and also timid, wild and also calm. For herself and no one else. This woman is me. It's a daily battle - weight has been gained as I grow older, things don't fit the same as they used to. I am not only the virtues that I carry inside my heart, but I am a physical being with a physical body that deserves to be celebrated, and appreciated. I'm learning everyday, to do just that.
Many, many thanks to Steven De La Roche for seeing me, and capturing me. You're a gem.