Jenifer Veloso is an editor of We Are Kathy. She is an ER nurse and a gluten free snackatarian.
I see “it” in my friends and myself… I see “it” in the way we pull at our shirts when we are sitting, the way we cling off and on to the latest diet trends, and in the way we talk about ourselves. I am downright ridiculous in the way I shame myself when it comes to my body.
This is a story about how my friends caught me red handed and called me out when they realized I was putting off wedding planning (finding “the dress”) because of my weight. “It” [the way we talk about and treat our bodies] has gotten out of control and there has to be a place where we can talk about it.
A few months ago I shot a boudoir photo shoot in Detroit. I was in awe of how brave and strong these women were to be so vulnerable in front of me and my camera. What I also couldn’t believe were the insecurities some of these women had. I could feel their self consciousness through my lens. Their poses were tense and afraid. I couldn’t put it together. I was seeing these beautiful women make art with their bodies. I mean real art where raw beauty is just pouring out on the photographs. I decided at one point to show each woman mid photo shoot an unedited picture of them on my camera, and every woman’s response was the same. “Oh my god… is that really me?” And then something powerful happened. It is hard to express in words, but each woman took control of their body. They were confident, daring and unafraid. It was incredible.
Then the tide changed after I had finished the photoshoot. My girlfriend asked me to take some boudoir pictures and my reply was, “over my dead rotting corpse.” I can’t even fathom seeing my body bent into all these poses and not think, “I hate my thighs, my rolls, my face, my arms, and my ass is too big.”
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
How have we as women let ourselves self destruct in the way we think and talk about our bodies? I have literally ruined a day, a weekend, or even a moment because I was thinking such negative thoughts about my body. It’s not always this bad, sometimes I will finish a workout and feel fresh and strong. Sometimes I will put on my favorite sweater, jeans and lipstick combo and walk out with my middle finger in the air because I feel so great. I love to tell other women “Girl, your lipstick is fresh to death” or “you look so beautiful today” and then I watch them throw the compliment away because they don’t believe it for a second.
I recently went away for a weekend with my fiance and I nearly ruined my experience because of how much I was obsessing over the way my body looked. In public I would worry if my shorts were too tight or too short. I was worried the dimples on my thighs made me look like a melting ice cream waffle cone. I didn’t want to go swimming because it meant I had to put a swimsuit on. I didn’t want my picture taken because I didn’t want to deal with the repercussions of the self hate talk I do when I see my body. As time went on I realized I was grumpy, irritable, and just not fun to be around. Thankfully I realized that I was torturing myself and I tried to just let it go so that I could enjoy our weekend away.
To be totally honest, I want to feel like a lioness in my body: Strong, beautiful and confident. So whenever I get really out of hand, I remind myself of the way Anne Lamott thinks about her thighs,
“I had decided I was going to take my thighs and butt with me proudly wherever I went. I decided, in fact, on the way to the beach, that I would treat them as if they were beloved elderly aunties, the kind who did embarrassing things at the beach, like roll their stockings into tubes around their ankles, but whom I was proud of because they were so great in every real and important way.”
My body is mine and I only have this one. I can go to yoga and carve that hour out for myself to feel strong, relaxed and centered. I can backpack in the woods and empower my mind and body. I can talk nicely to my thighs. I will talk nicely to my butt and I will tell myself that life is more important than avoiding the next cookie.
I don’t want to be weird about wearing shorts in public. I don’t want to avoid tank tops because my arms feel thick.
I want to be free of this unhealthy obsession that for whatever reason my body is not good enough.
It is enough.
I can do this. We can do this.
I will surround myself with women who encourage and inspire me to be comfortable in my body. I am not quite going to be the girl that shows my ass on instagram to empower others, but I will be the girl that writes about it. I want us all to feel better about our bodies, and everytime we see our bodies say, “Wow, is that really me?”
Yeah girl, it really is you. And you are beautiful.
P.S. I finally did make that appointment to try on wedding dresses.
Written by: Jenifer Veloso