Why I love every inch of my stretch marks

I have obsessed about my weight since I was eleven. I'm not going to get into all of the years of disordered eating and self-loathing in this post, but when I look back on photos of myself, I can't believe I thought there was anything wrong with me. I was a fox — long, lean, lithe, and curvy in just the right places. I could shimmy into tons of really cute clothes, and heads would turn. These days, you could describe me as "pillowy" rather than "willowy."

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What a photo shoot taught me about being human and feeling beautiful

When a friend of mine asked to take nude photos for her A Beautiful Body Project I was excited and flattered by her suggestion. And terrified. I had never been too fond of "seeing" myself in mirrors, or through a camera lens. It always brought up my inner critic, so I figured the best remedy was to minimize the cause for judgment. It took me many months to think about Jade's invitation and photographs of myself. I don't know the exact location or origin of the fear, but it was very much about being seen, and what that meant. I had to look at what I might be so afraid of.

How being a nanny to a three-year-old has taught me self-acceptance

As I evaluate my role as a strong, positive role model in Johannah's life, I am particularly cognizant of the image of myself that I share with her, that I unconsciously project into the world. I may be found, at times, in front of a full length mirror scrutinizing the lumps and bumps of my body, rough patches of skin, the crookedness of my front teeth.

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Nursing gave me a supposedly-perfect body (but I wanted my A-cups back)

I was astonished by this transformation into my ideal body. I felt lighter on my feet and more comfortable in my skin. In one year, I had gained 50 pounds, and then lost 65. I had gone from a size 6 to a maternity Large, then back down to a size 4. I went from a bra size A to B and then C. I felt like a real woman, feminine in a way that finally matched how I had always felt on the inside.