So I have two more photoshoots coming up in the next couple of weeks – this Thursday and next Thursday – but the biggest difference between these and my previous shoots is they are swimsuit shoots and for some reason, yesterday, I got absolutely terrified of this fact and was even thinking about canceling.
Why? I was concerned because I didn’t fit the mold of “bikini model”.
Sunday I had spent some time messaging with the photographer coming up this week. I had an idea for another shoot after following a conversation on the FB group so I ran it past him and we were chatting about shooting nudes in public spaces – as well as inside using natural light. I was sharing some of my favorite photos from past shoots over the years. At one point, I commented “Lol, I was so skinny!”. He didn’t respond – how do you? But I was. I was still curvy and soft, but obviously took care of myself.
I had to remind myself that those photos were 4 years ago. 2015. In those four years, I was sexually assaulted twice and lost my dad to cancer – and that’s just the stuff I talk about! It has NOT been an easy 4 years! It took me 2 years to get to the point that I was no longer wanting to simply exist and an additional 2 years to heal emotionally and mentally. Only now – like, right now – am I ready to start taking my physical health back.
It’s hard! I’m against actively dieting (aka “diet culture”) but it’s amazing how hard it is to steer clear of it! I KNOW how to lose weight and fast, but it would sink me back into eating disorders. I’m NOT that person I was 4 years ago so I will never look like her again. Yes, I can aim for it, but I need to go into it with zero expectations. I need to accept that she doesn’t exist anymore; the way I think and feel and view the world has changed and my body will reflect that.
However, I will have moments of “weakness” where I will doubt my ability and my confidence will waiver. And that’s where I’m sitting right now. I was on my way to yoga yesterday and I looked at my reflection; the thick, soft arms, the belly rolls my shirt was clinging to, my undefined jawline… and I didn’t like what I saw, but mostly, I didn’t like my thoughts.
I have to remind myself that this is normal, but I also need to make sure I am compassionate towards myself. Healing takes time and it has taken its toll – I’ve accepted this but I sometimes need to remind myself. No. I don’t look how I did 4 years ago – or even 2 years ago – and that’s okay. You’re not supposed to stay the same. We’re supposed to change and grow and evolve – to become better versions of ourselves. And my biggest challenge to date is learning to love my body in all places of change and growth.
The fear behind the anxiety about doing the swimsuit photoshoot could be the negative comments about my body… and that’s not even saying that I’ll get them! That is my mind telling me that people won’t want to see a fat woman loving her body enough that she would get these photos done in a swimsuit. I know how to pose my body in ways to accentuate certain areas and mask other areas… but will the photographer know how to capture that – no matter how good he is? And it doesn’t hide the fact that I am not the typical bikini model – aka, I’m not super thin and I don’t have a defined, trim, midsection. I have fat. I have cellulite. I have stretch marks. My boobs are uneven and lost their perkiness over half a lifetime ago. I have s double chin. I have bat wings. I have thick thighs – and calves, and ankles. I have blemishes everywhere and often sport several bruises all the time because I’m clumsy and I’m a peach. I have a pixie cut. I’m pale and burn – I refuse to tan.
So why am I doing this?
Because, through hell and back, my body has kept going. I have abused the hell out of it over the decades and it has never let me down. I am honoring my body now – when lots of people would (MIGHT!) want me to cover up. I love my body for everything it’s been through. These photos aren’t a “before” picture – they are “I love myself” picture in this journey.
All bodies are good and beautiful in their own way. All bodies and models should be represented – whether it’s ethnicity, body size, shape – whatever! Any woman at any time should be able to get photos done at any point without fear of discrimination and hate. Fat needs to be accepted. Stretch marks and cellulite need to be normalized. Women need to realize that they have a beach body NOW. Not in 10 or 20 pounds. Right NOW. A bikini body is right NOW.
If someone is shaming another for what they look like, it’s not about that person receiving the abuse – it is ALWAYS about the person doing the shaming. If you see someone that provokes a negative reaction, that is a reflection of you, not them and you need to figure out why. Telling some rando online that they’re fat… why? Do you think they’re unaware that they are? Do you think they’re naïve about health consequences? Do you think that they haven’t been told this most of their life? So, by telling someone they’re fat has nothing to do with them; it has everything to do with you. And I call BS on the “I’m only concerned about their health”. Bull-fucking-shit you are. Again… THEY KNOW! So, no. You are not concerned about their health. Unless they’re, literally, someone you personally know and sincerely care for – and even then, I doubt you would come out and say “you’re fat” to someone you care for. You’d use tact and empathy. So to come out and tell some rando that they’re fat – you’re just being mean and a bully.
I need to remind myself of that – that any negative remarks received (IF I get them) has to do with the other person, not me. And I need to stop believing the lies I’ve been telling myself the last few days – I don’t have to lose weight to be worthy. I don’t need to have zero fat to put on a bikini. I don’t need a flat stomach to love myself.
I don’t need your permission to exist.