Simply, I had to share this story because of its unique content compared to our usual discussions in The Body Project. She shares something to which I think many people would relate, but haven't necessarily spoken up about.
"I have never felt completely comfortable in my own skin. I can remember being eight years old, flipping through pages of cosmopolitan magazine, marveling at all the photographs of the beautiful women. It was so exciting to think that, one day, I would look like those women. As I proceeded through high school, I anticipated this body transformation with the idea in mind that these images of 'perfect' women were realistic, and that they set the standard for what every woman SHOULD aim to look like. I was a late developer. By the time my body finished changing in my senior year of high school, I began to notice some things that devastated me. I began to constantly compare myself to the other girls in my school. I was very athletic, but I didn’t feel feminine enough. I was never a 'heavy' girl, but I could tell that I had broader shoulders and thicker arms than most girls around me. I had a very large chest, but I noticed that many of the 'super hot' girls in my class with big boobs also had a smaller, more petite upper body to go with their chest. I also had very thick, muscular thighs. By contrast, many of the other girls with toned thighs had a nice gap between their upper thighs that made them look more slender. My inner upper thighs have always been the place where my baby fat has chosen to cling to and never go away. It sounds weird, but I have never been able to keep my legs crossed…literally. The mass in my upper thighs wouldn’t allow me to keep my legs tightly crossed. It was also around this time in high school that I began to have more close conversations with my dad about men and dating. I’ve always been close with my dad, and he’s always been totally supportive and affirming of me, for how I am inside and out. However, as a father of three daughters, he was very protective, and was constantly warning my sisters and I that all boys cared about was sex. From this, I came up with this crazy idea in my head that men value physical beauty above all else, and that you have to be smokin’ hot in order for men to desire you. Possibly the most devastating blow for me was when I overheard a guy in my class talking about me, saying I was 'built like a linebacker.' It was after that comment that my body confidence sank to an all time low, and I decided right there that I was just not a 'hot' girl. In college, I stuck to this attitude. I basically ate whatever I wanted, drank beer and had fun. I put on about 20 pounds in the process."
"About two years ago, something miraculous happened. I met the love of my life. The kicker to this is, I was at my heaviest weight ever, and he happened to be two inches shorter than me, not to mention in fantastic shape. He made it clear to me from the beginning that he was attracted to me for exactly what I was, both inside and out. It felt so amazing and yet so awkward at the same time. Intimacy was difficult because I didn’t feel attractive enough to be with him. I decided to lose weight—and I did. Over the last year, I have lost twenty-five pounds, by changing my diet and working out 4 times per week. So, do I feel as good as I thought I would feel? No. But I do feel healthy. I have learned so much through my weight loss journey. I thought that if I lost weight, I could get to that 'perfect' feminine look that I had always wanted…that my broad shoulders would melt away and that I would magically gain a gap between my thighs. But what I have learned is that no matter how much weight you lose, or how good of shape you are in, the shape of your body will never change. I am currently still working towards my goal of accepting my body just as it is, for the natural weight and shape that I am and am SUPPOSED to be. Most importantly, I have to stay healthy and happy for ME. Not for my boyfriend, or the boys in high school who rejected me, or anything else."
"I am still working on accepting who I am, my broad shoulders, big arms and thighs, and my overall thickness. My boyfriend and I are still together, and he is so wonderful. Sometimes I wonder if fate paired me up with a guy who is smaller than me in order to force me to accept myself for the size that I am."
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