I remember the day clearly. I was walking through Mayfair Mall and I overheard two boys making fun of the way I looked and my weight. The tears immediately filled my eyes and I walked out before I was done shopping. I left and went to target and bought myself a scale. I remember the day I saw what my weight was.
I made a promise to myself that day. I promised myself that I wouldn’t stop losing weight until I hit this magic number in my head. So certain that once I arrived, all of my insecurities would diminish.
I remember the day I arrived at that number. Two kids and 130 pounds lost. I remember looking in the mirror and feeling so disappointed in what I saw.
The excess skin, a missing belly button, and the way my stomach was covered in stretch marks.
Disappointed in the way it felt like my let me down because everyone else seemed to just bounce back with no issue.
Shortly after that day, I was diagnosed with kidney failure, stage 3.
The amount of hatred I had for this body was unlike any other emotion I’ve ever felt. Years of this continued despise and feeling so miserable. So disappointed because it felt like my body let me down. Internally and externally.
I remember the day I told myself I wasn’t going to feel that way anymore. It was consuming so much of me and my time to hate this vessel.
Self-love and acceptance of this body that felt like it failed me has been the hardest journey I’ve ever gone down. Losing weight was easy in comparison. Slowly coming to the realization that loving yourself isn’t about what your relationship with gravity is or whether you have six pack abs. It’s not about whether you look like the girls in the magazines because the girls in the magazines don’t look like those pictures either.
I began hearing of my friends doing this thing called “boudoir” and getting intimate photos of themselves done. Feeling like being completely vulnerable and looking hard at myself was the only way to overcome this hatred. So I began asking everyone and anyone I knew about their experience.
One of my friends endured the worst few hours I could ever imagine. The photographer consistently cut her down and told her things like, “suck it in, your stomach is hanging out and it doesn’t look good.” “Is that really what you want to wear? It seems so revealing and maybe you’d rather hide that.” She told me that she felt so judged and uncomfortable and left feeling worse than ever.
I should add that my friend went to a Milwaukee photographer named ********* ***** (*Editors note: photographer's name mentioned has been removed to protect their privacy. We edited out their name, but this does not mean that we are condoning nor supporting this other photographer's heartbreaking behavior). The look on her face while she was telling me about what she went through was truly heart wrenching. Walking in somewhere and already feeling so self conscious to walk out feeling even worse... I can’t find the words to express the true look of heart break on her face.
She’s moved on and away from the area, and is doing well now. But it took her a while and having to get out to find herself again.
I immediately became afraid. Is that really what it’s like? I mean, if I’m looking to really hear and see the truth, maybe that’s what I gotta go through.
So I kept asking around. A friend of mine, Ashli, shared with me her experience with Laura. I’ll be honest, it sounded too good to be true. Maybe she just “left out” how she was told to suck it in or hide XYZ. She added me to the group and I was blown away. There were photos of women who looked like me. Their stomachs showed their story. Their legs and arms had some excess skin just like mine.
But still, I thought, I have to be ready to hear someone else tell me about all the things I’m self-conscious of. So I prepared myself to hear about how I should “turn this way and suck it in to hide XYZ thing that I’m so embarrassed of.” Like, I prepared myself to hear that.
I made my appointment on the day after Thanksgiving. I had been stalking Laura’s website and saving up to afford it. It felt expensive but there’s no price on self-love and I was going to give this my all. So I booked and made my appointment.
She sends you emails along the way with tips and tricks to prepare. So much of it felt new and overwhelming to me. Taking care of my body isn’t something I’ve done and taken the time for. Learning how to exfoliate my skin, drinking lots of water, connecting with my body through yoga stretches and meditation. Even before my appointment I began the journey of taking care of myself and slowly starting to become in tune with me.
I began to fall in love with the girl who stared back at me in the mirror. My reflection.
I was so content with my appointment the weeks coming up to “the day.” The week before I got an email with the packing list and a few more tips to keep calm and to be excited! My nerves began to kick in and I was so afraid. Was I really ready for someone to pick at all the things I hated about this body when I finally started to feel ok with it?