Finding Self- Acceptance

Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the queen of a town called self love……

There were always the subtleties….my food got cut off much quicker than my older brother, I had to play outside “for exercise”, but I will never forget the day those subtle messages became concrete. I walked outside and my mom was talking to the neighbor. As any nosey little girl would do, I hung back and listened. When I heard what they were talking about, my heart dropped to the ground. They were talking about me. The discussion was how I had grown wider and hopefully I would grown into my weight. I was a preteen. Not until that point had I even considered I had any weight issue. Looking at pictures of myself during that time, sure I was solid, but wouldn’t say overweight. God created this body for strength, not modeling. Maybe that’s why a nice gastrocnemius muscle revs my engine. Sorry, back to the topic at hand.

It was in that moment, looking back, I began to think there was something wrong with me physically. So began the quest for a size 2 body that I clearly was not created to have. Over the next ten to twelve years I tried so many different ways from “spot toning” to aerobics (remember Jazzercise?) to a 2 hour spin class (yes, I did once!). I tried starving myself, I tried diet pills, I tried different kinds of shakes and supplements, juicing, the raw diet, you name it. All those years wasted hating my body instead of embracing it and using it. When I think of those without arms or legs, I am ashamed!

marks

Self Portrait - Hard Earned Scars

I then got pregnant with my first child. As a mother I began to see how far I could push myself physically and still remain coherent. I married a man who loved me for who I was on the inside. After our 3rd child, I am thankful for that because I got HUGE. During my child bearing years, I wouldn’t say I hated my body, but I didn’t love it either. However, I was tired of not being able to shop at “normal” stores. At this point I started to see a therapist for postpartum depression and funny thing, some of that weight melted away (nearly 30 pounds!). When the weightloss stalled, I tried really hard to lose more through a healthy approach of diet and exercise. It didn’t work and I was crushed every time I went shopping with friends. There wasn’t much that I could try on.

One day a friend called and wanted me to accompany her to see a plastic surgeon for liposuction. Sounded like a fun excuse to leave the kids with the man and go on an adventure. I walked out of that office with a down payment (on credit mind you) to get rid of my belly. That is where I carried so much of my weight. Yes, I got some fat sucked out. While I was happy with the results, I still was not 100% happy with my body. Sure I could now shop at “normal” stores again, but I still felt like that fat little girl.

That was a few years ago. I still drink my manure water as my green smoothies affectionately were called. Since, I have tried calorie counting, I have tried killing it at the gym, I tried taking out sugar (I don’t eat much processed foods anyways), back to raw foods. I haven’t had much success with any of these. A few months ago I found myself so frustrated and nearly crying. Then I looked at myself in the mirror. Have you ever looked yourself in the eyes? It’s kinda scary, no joke. Why was I killing myself to achieve what I thought I should look like? So what I have an extra 30 pounds? I realized I was wasting my life worrying about something that didn’t matter. What mattered was the food I put into my mouth. What mattered was how much I moved my body. What mattered was how many push ups these strong arms could do (It was around 25. I can’t remember now). I am healthy and I am strong. If I am a little meatier, that’s o.k. I need to be out enjoying life, enjoying my family, not sobbing in a corner because I feel fat.

Want to know a side effect? No, I didn’t lose any good ‘ol lbs. I did however begin to venture into public with no makeup. Before, I had to at lease have foundation and mascara to even go to the grocery store. Once I started to accept my body the way it is, there were some other areas in my life that received acceptance too.

Originally when I felt called to photography as a business a year ago, this is where I saw myself; showing other women how amazing they are. I want you to see the same beauty that I see. After some scraped knees and listening others well intended (at least I hope it was well intended) advice, I veered myself away from what I felt called to.

My name is Shannon, and I am beautiful just the way I am. I want to show you how beautiful you are at this very moment too.

I am a wife and mother, creator, dreamer, and memory maker.

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