“When I was a little girl, my mother had a boudoir picture of herself on her dresser. She must have been around 24 in the photo. I used to look at it while she would get ready for work, or at the end of the day when she would be getting ready to go to sleep. These were precious times with her, and times where I learned a lot about beauty and being a woman.
My mother has always been beautiful, I remember when I got to high school my guy friends used to exclaim “Damn, your mom is hot!” in a way that they never seemed to pay attention to me. Yeah, that was weird. And then I got to college and I remember in one of my first feminist theory classes looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw. I remember realizing at some point I would never think I was skinny, because my reference point for skinny would always be my mother, and her frame was lithe and lean where my hips and waist were not. I remember knowing that was ridiculous.
I spent my 20s learning to love myself, both physically and emotionally. I spent years figuring out how to pick guys that honored me and respected my mind and my body, years figuring out who I was, and who I wasn’t, and learning to love being alone with myself instead of just feeling lonely.
And then a couple years ago in my early 30s I realized that I had arrived. At some point, with all the therapy and workshops and personal growth, I finally loved myself and my life. I finally loved my body, my sexuality and my mind. I finally let go of enough of the internalized sexism to walk proud and to talk to my other female friends about what I actually liked about myself.
And now my body has started to change again. Not a lot, but it’s harder to stay fit, and belly rolls appear and disappear in unexpected ways and times. I started to think, “I need to document this life, this body that I’ve finally come to love.” And so despite the societal message that whispered in my ear “maybe you should work out a little bit more” I decided to do a photo shoot with Robin to celebrate this time in my mid 30s, this peak I have come to.
I confessed to Robin before the shoot “I feel a lot like a ripe peach these days, and I want to make sure that I celebrate this summer of my life. That I don’t just fall off the tree and rot without being relished fully.” Robin was awesome. She encouraged me to love myself and celebrate myself in the session, in a way that I don’t think I’ve done in front of another woman. That in and of itself was healing, to be celebrated instead of compared to.
And so, here it is. Proof. Proof that you can love yourself, love your body. And maybe if I was able to get this far, I will be able to continue to grow and love myself as my body changes and wrinkles and puckers. I hope so.”