Unedited

Just be. Be present in the moment. Enjoy your joy without reservations.

Smile for the camera. Display your unedited self. Love it.

Your wild hair is gorgeous. Your freckles are galaxies on your body. Your crooked smile is adorable. Everyone has rolls at one point. Cellulite is normal. Stretch marks are badges. Your curves are appreciated by someone. Bad hair days are common. You are not measured by the size of your waist.

Post that no makeup, unfiltered, untouched, unedited selfie. Rock it. Own it. Love it. Who cares what anyone else says?

I’ll go first.

Wandering eye. Crooked smile. Breakout. Bad hair day. Imperfect skin. In need of new glasses. Unusual nose. Eyebrows not plucked or waxed.

Also.

Big toothy smile. Happy face. Moisturized. Natural. Feeling loved. Bright crescent moon eyes. Good mood. Feeling good in my skin. Real.

Not everyone will appreciate it. That’s ok. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but my husband says I’m his Tennessee whiskey. Not everyone will appreciate my looks, my body, or my personality. That’s fine.

This is me. Unedited.

I spent too many years of my life trying to please people. So have you. Let it go. Shine without reservations. Your own mind can be a toxic place where self love doesn’t grow.

Don’t over think it. Do what makes you happy. Take care of yourself. Enjoy your life. Live that moment. Be gloriously and riotously you. Be happy. Unedited.

Ladies: Loving Ourselves & Each Other

My self-image has been evolving recently, and by recently, I mean the last few years. I’ve gone through areas of change. Good changes and bad. My self-esteem has suffered. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and following on body positivity: at any size, any shape, and any form. So many people have commented saying that it’s obesity acceptance. That’s not the case. Being comfortable with and loving your body at any size is IMPERATIVE for making healthy changes. I’ve figured this out. Finally, almost 32 years in.

Do I think I don’t need to be healthier because I’m okay with my body? No. People hear body acceptance and love and think that people want to be overweight forever or that they want to get bigger. In some cases, yes, people are fine living in a bigger body, and that’s okay. And you know what? That is none of my or anyone else’s business. Over the last few months, I’ve lost nearly 35lbs. I feel better, I move better, and yes, I feel better about my self-image.

Earlier this year, I went through a dark stage. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I hated it so much, and the more I tried to convince myself that I loved the skin I’m in, it made me hate it more. I said some horrible things to myself about myself. Then I read something that said something similar to that if you wouldn’t look your best friend in the eye and say something horrible about her then you shouldn’t say horrible things about yourself. What I read worded it much better, and I wish I had saved it. I can’t imagine looking any one of my friends in the eye and saying, “You disgust me” or “You’re not worthy.” So, I’m working on not saying them to myself.

I’m still on a journey to heal myself and love myself. It’s a struggle every day. Some days, I look at myself and think this isn’t so bad. Others, I just want to cry. I wondered how many women experience that same thing. I did a little social experiment in my head. I told myself to compliment at least three women per week. Nothing too outrageous or flattering, just things that I noticed and appreciated that my social anxiety would never have let me mention to strangers before.

I started small with an acquaintance at Wal-Mart. This lady has checked me out and bagged my groceries on several occasions. She’s probably younger than me, looks to be Hispanic, wears little makeup, and has beautiful shiny dark hair. While she made small talk, I smiled and mentioned that I wish my hair was as shiny as hers. She offered me a smile back and said it must be the lights. She also said she hates her hair. As I walked away, I thought to myself that it’s sad that she hates something that I find so pretty.

I doubled down on my next compliment. I told a lady that she had lovely eyes. They were almond shaped, heavy-lidded, and looked like they could tell a story. She gave a little smile, said they were hard to apply eyeliner to, and that was that. The more ladies I spoke to, the more I realized that we all hate some of our best features. I didn’t hear once that the person liked what I complimented.

We live in a society that does not accept when we appreciate ourselves. We can’t be thankful for what we are born with, what we are given, and what others appreciate. We are not taught acceptance of ourselves or others. This makes me very sad and also angry. We try to “fix” natural things like stretch marks and cellulite. People say horrible things if any of that is visible. It’s a shame that we can’t see marks that helped bring a precious being into the world as beautiful. 

The more attention I paid, the more I realized that women are the most to blame for body issues. We are catty. We talk about each other in terrible ways. I even do this in my head. I never realized how much I did it. I would never say anything hurtful like the negatives that I think to another woman. I caught and checked myself on several occasions.

I realized too that people think that what is good for them is good for all. On several occasions I’ve heard, “You’d look really nice if you wore a little makeup” or similar comments. I remember thinking, well, I thought I looked nice today.  Also, people try to sell me weight loss products ALL THE TIME.

Ladies, we have got to stop doing this to each other. We’ve got to build each other up and not make someone feel inferior because they have more than 10% body fat or look like they “need to eat a cheeseburger” or don’t wear makeup or wear a large amount of makeup.

One thing is that we have this idea of real women. Real women have curves, real women do this, and real women have that. All women are real women. The curvier lady with the lovely eyes, and the thin lady with a nice smile, the childless women, the abused women, the women who are the primary breadwinner, every single one. We are all real women. It’s time we realize it and appreciate each other.

If I see you in public in sweats, I’m going to think you look comfortable, and comfortable looks good on you.

If I see you without makeup, I’m going to think you look nice and natural. (You’ll see me without makeup more often than not.)

If I see you with your hair in a bun, I am going to think you took more time playing with your family, more time with your spouse, or more time for your own self-care than  perfecting your hair. And that’s beautiful.

If I see you dressed to the nines, face full of expertly applied makeup, and perfectly coiffed Heaven high hair, I’m going to think you’re just as lovely.

Any way you choose to be is acceptable and should be accepted. Love yourself and love each other.

Self Love

I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about how we view our bodies and ourselves. It’s almost never positive. If I asked a random woman on the street what she liked about herself, and then what she disliked about herself, I bet we can already guess what list would be longer.

Society has created visions of what the perfect woman should look like and shoved it into our heads and made us believe there is no other way. We have made these irrational views the social norm.

Because of these insane views, I have disliked myself and my looks for years.

Everything from my weight to my feet, I could give you a list a mile long of things I don’t care for about myself. I see this in other women. They are scared of gaining weight, getting older, and doing everything in their power to stop both of those things. Everything from starving to doing extreme things to their bodies.

Instagram has a community of women who are about body positivity. This is body positivity at any size, any shape, any form, and any fashion. Women who wear a lot of makeup, women who go barefaced. They encourage body love and self love, but also receive a lot of hate. When I read comments on positive photos of themselves, there are people who say that they are fat, unhealthy, and ask them how they can even show their face on the internet.

What does this tell you about our society? A woman can post a photo of herself online and show a little positivity only to be told that she’s wrong. Why can’t a woman have fat and be beautiful? Why is it so hard to be positive or move along rather than be hateful and cause someone to feel worse about themselves?

If there is one thing I know for sure about being overweight and unhealthy is that it only gets worse until you love yourself enough to do something about it. We need to instill in our children a love of self and, at the bare minimum, a respect for their bodies. Just because you are shaped differently than someone on TV, does not mean there is anything wrong with you.

It’s up to us to break this norm.

I am obese and have been most of my life. I’ve found that in my low times, I turn to food as a comfort because in those moments, I dislike myself and my body. During those moments, I don’t care that what I am putting in my body is not good for it.

I’ve been transitioning over the past year. I’m coming to terms with my body and learning to like, if not love, the skin I’m in.

I’ve started doing yoga and eating more veggies. I am in no way vegetarian, but I’ve been eating meat only once a day, most days. I pay more attention to my body and the way it moves and the way it feels. I am more mindful of my body.

My feet are wide but are a good foundation for balance in yoga. My legs are steady, hold my body, and move me from place to place. My hips are shifty and offer better mobility. My back has it’s issues but has carried me for 31 years. My chest and ribs protect my heart that sends blood throughout my body and carries oxygen and water and nutrients to every part of me.

Sometimes, loving ourselves is hard and could use a little help. Getting to imagine yourself from another’s point of view can really help your view of yourself. A family member, friend, or significant other can really open your eyes to yourself.

I asked my husband to make some notes on what he liked and admired about me. The majority of what he wrote was about my mentality. For someone who is not wordy, I was impressed. A lot of it was flattery, but he did very well with his assignment.

He said he appreciated that I’m strong and that I really put myself into whatever I’m doing whether it be cooking, planting flowers, or putting up with him. His words, not mine.

He said that he admires my ability to immerse myself into my writing or reading.

I thought about what I like in myself. I like that I’m compassionate and empathetic. I love my appreciation of nature and living things. Finding things that you like in yourself and recognizing those traits will put you on the right track for self love.

The human body is a miracle and universe unto itself. It all connects and flows to make your body function as a whole. Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” How amazing is it that we are made of the same thing as the stars? When you think of your body in that fashion, it becomes much easier to love.

Before I close, let me tell you something that I am still learning myself. PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST.

Striving for perfection is like draining the ocean with a straw. No matter how hard you try, you will not reach perfection because it simply does not exist. Just because I love my body doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve it. I want to make it healthier, stronger, and better because I’m learning to love it. So, on the national day of love, I encourage you to love your body, love your heart and mind, and love something about everything about yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Being a Muffin

I am not your average woman. I’ve tried to be for years only to realize that being average does not work for me. I am not domestic. I’m a fair cook, but other than that, my domestic skills are limited.

On the outside, I am long haired and when I’m feeling girly, I paint my toes. Other than this, I’m a jeans and sneakers or boots kinda girl. My hair is normally down or in a ponytail. That’s about it. No makeup, except for special occasions. I can apply a decal better than I can eyeliner.

I heard a speech P!nk gave the other night about how her daughter said that she felt ugly because she looked like a boy. I thought of myself as a preteen. I wore a ball cap and had a short haircut. I was mistaken for a boy on more than one occasion. Over the years, throughout my teens, I did all the makeup and girl stuff. However, I’ve never been totally comfortable with it. I mostly did all that because I fell victim to our society and its expectations of girls.

I’ve gone back and forth at war with myself over my appearance and being more feminine. It’s taken me almost thirty years to realize that I need to be comfortable with myself. I’d rather spend my mornings reading or writing than perfectly applying makeup. I couldn’t contour to save my life, and I’m fine with that. Shopping is not my thing. Most of my clothes are ordered or second hand. That’s fine, too. We put too many limitations on our girls.

Girls can be mechanics, techies, gamers, into sports, and things that are considered “guy things.” We don’t have to be made up and dressed like paper dolls. We don’t have to be what society expects. My femininity is not defined by how I look.

I’ve heard many names for it. Tom boy. Androgynous. I just know what’s me and what I like. I saw a little girl in a gas station a few days ago. Her shirt said, “Be a cupcake in a world of muffins.” It was written in glitter and on a pink shirt. I smiled to myself as I recognized that I am in fact a muffin. And that’s great.

For all the little girls who would rather be Batman than a princess when you dress up, who choose hoodies over dresses, who would rather play with Hot Wheels over Barbie, who think heels are a form of torture, and who think they are too boyish or rough around the edges, you are a muffin. That’s amazing, and you are pretty freakin’ perfect just as you are. And if you aren’t a muffin, if you’re a frosted cupcake who loves pink and glitter, and can’t live without makeup, you’re just as perfect.

Whether you are a muffin or a cupcake, don’t let anyone tell you that you should be anything other than yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I would be pretty if I wore a little makeup. Forget that noise. If you’re still deciding who you are, that’s great, too. Take your time. Just be authentic. Don’t fake it for the world. You will be doing yourself a disservice and denying other people the privilege of knowing how wonderful you are.