This dear lady was kind enough to be the first Mother to participate in this project. But she isn’t just a Mother, she’s this intensely warm person. The kind you feel comfortable resting your read on right after you meet her, crying together during this interview proved she is easy to trust. My favorite part of this session was hearing the quote above. Because often times, women feel hindered by their gender. Defeated by the wage gap, shameful for enjoy sex casually, or inferior in traditionally masculine workplaces. What this woman told me, was simply this.
Fuck that mindset.
Pardon my french, I am quite the sailor sometimes, but really! Fuck it! Forget about all the things that you only THINK hold you back. Woman or man. Do what you love to do, do it better than anyone else, and be proud of your accomplishments. Because you are not your gender limitations, you are a limitless ball of potential and you have the power to evoke change in your everyday life simply by empowering others as well. Support yourself, support others, and live on.
And most importantly, be kind to yourself.
/// BEFORE SHOOT ///
What level is your self-esteem at from 1-10?
I worked to get here. It didn’t come easily.
Are you nervous?
Not as nervous as I thought I’d be. I was more nervous thinking about coming here, then I got here and it feels more exciting. More than nervous.
Why did you want to participate in this project?
It’s an important project. I believe in positive body image, spreading the word of respecting yourself and loving yourself. That includes me. I’m still a work in progress myself. This project is an opportunity to be a part of a bigger picture. To be able to spread this message to the world.
With all the blogs, social media interaction, and so on…body positivity is important to me.
/// AFTER THE SHOOT ///
What is your self-esteem level now?
Still a nine point five.
How did the shoot affect your self-esteem?
It definitely lifted it, because I don’t look at pictures of myself naked. I don’t even have a full length mirror. Not afraid to be naked, or see myself naked. It’s just fascinating to see through your lens.
How has your body affected your self-esteem throughout your life?
By third grade, I was wearing a bra not because I wanted to but because I needed to. No one else in my grade was wearing a bra at that point.
How did that make you feel?
Very self-conscious. I felt like a bit of a freak, I definitely felt fat. I was already getting the curvy hips, the belly. And most of my friends were thin. Limber. Athletic. All my friends could do cartwheels. Everything I tried to do in respect to that with my body wasn’t on the same page. My body was holding me back from doing things.
What did that teach you about being fat when you were little?
I started finding other parts of satisfaction in my life. I turned to creative paths, things that didn’t require my physical body to be limber and fit and physical tasks. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t active, I was always playing softball and I was a very active kid. I just always felt like I couldn’t get to that level of athleticism that others couldn’t reach.
How old where you when you first began negative self-talk?
I would say sixth grade, eleven or twelve year old. It was my first year attending public school and I didn’t have to wear a uniform. I felt out of place. I wasn’t popular. Boys only liked me because of my boobs. Girls didn’t like me because of my boobs.
You run a body positivity blog, tell me how that began?
I went through a divorce about five years ago now and my marriage had been very emotionally damaging to me. When I finally made the decision to get out of the marriage, I found a renewed sense of self that I had not experienced for decades.
What caused that new sense of self?
When I was married, my husband was the dominating person in the relationship. Emotionally, he was overpowering and belittled me. Verbally, little jabs that put me down. He never complained about my weight, but we did not have a close intimate level like a husband and wife should. It wasn’t satisfying. He didn’t treat me like he desired me, there was not intimacy or romance between us. He wasn’t physically attracted to me.
How did that make you feel about your body?
I did not like my body. I liked myself as a person but I was ashamed of my body. I sort of retreated into myself, wore baggy clothing to hide all the rolls and the curvy. I just didn’t want to acknowledge my own body.
Do you have children?
Yes, I have a son. I sat down and told him what it entails. That it’s going to be online, in a book. The first thing he said to me was, “GOOD! We need more of that”.
What is the biggest struggle you’ve faced in your life thus far?
Being comfortable in my own skin. I think I’m almost there. My biggest hope is to inspire people to be comfortable in their own skin. It opens up a whole other pathway to happiness. Discovering your own inner and outer beauty is the key. I’ve had many friends through the years tell me they look up to me because I don’t come off as someone with low confidence. I don’t worry about what other people think about me, for the most part. I don’t base my decisions based on what other people might think of me.
Are you a feminist, and why?
Yes. I know that there are a lot of women who claim not to be feminists because there is a lot of negative attitude about it. That feminists are just aggressive, man hating, don’t want to be mothers, and I don’t think that’s it at all. Its making sure that all women are seen as vital people in this worlds existence. Women have just as big as a part in this world as men do. I’m not man hating, I’m not afraid of being sexual. Femininity to me is being strong with who you are, embracing who you are. It’s being a mother, it’s a businessperson, it’s whatever you wanna be. Whoever you wanna be. Not letting anyone tell you you’re not good enough, or don’t have the right skills or you’re not smart enough because of your gender.
Any last words for the readers?
My mantra is that I try to live an extraordinary life, even in ordinary circumstances.