Your One Job in This Life is to Be You

Loving Your Beautiful Curves | Elizabeth Craig Photography-6“Comparing yourself to others is poison. Your one job in this life is to be you.” –India Arie

I was walking along, huffing and puffing, getting my daily walk in while listening to a podcast that was featuring India Arie. Goodness she is so….soulful. She made so many lovely statements during this podcast, but the statement above is the one that really caught me.

So I really started to think about it: how many times in a day do I compare myself to other women? Physically, mentally, humorously, professionally, financially…and then I caught my breath. I do this. A lot. Like…A LOT. Ew. Ewwwwwwww! I stopped mid-walk and a terrible layer of ick came over me. It was as if I could feel all the weight and layers of all the skin of other women I had compared myself to just laying on top of my own skin. There my beautiful body was, trying to gasp for air, get some attention from me…just a hint of recognition for what it has done for me for 44 years. It has walked so many miles, been with me through heartbreaks, a car accident or 2, anxiety and depression, walked me down the aisle, grew an alien being, I now call Ella, inside itself. It has listened to every horrible thing I’ve ever said to it and absorbed every scowling look of disappointment it sees every time I pass by a mirror. It has, all of my entire life, lived with the heavy burden of absolutely never being enough. It always needed to lose 5 more pounds (or 20 nowadays), its skin never smooth enough, the belly never flat enough, the boobs never big enough…it never looked like “her” body…whoever “her” was at the moment.

I realized in that moment what a truly horrifying friend I have been to my body all my life. I could just feel it screaming out to me, begging me to show it just the teeniest bit of love and acknowledgement for all that it had done for me, and all it will do for me for all of my days.

That day, I decided to start writing my body love notes. Real love notes… I tell my body how beautiful it is. I tell my body how grateful I am for her and that after all I’ve said to her, she still keeps me alive and trucking along. I run my hands on her skin, appreciating ever bump and divot. I even tell the part of my body I have always and forever had difficulties with, my tummy, that it is absolutely 100% perfect in every way, though the status quo and Cosmo may disagree. She is a miracle, a lifesaver and my best friend and no matter what anyone else says, she is the purest example of true beauty in all her ways.

This woman you see in these photos is a living example of that, and not because she’s a curvy woman. I’m not going to say “She’s so beautiful because she accepts herself as she is in a world that daily tells her she is not beautiful enough.” I’m saying it because, after working with women in all my ways over the last 13 years, I have come to realize that size doesn’t matter in your level of self-acceptance. This stunning woman is a living example of what beauty really is because she accepts herself. Period. I have had fitness coaches that honestly could not lose one more pound still find things about their body that drives them crazy (that was yesterday’s shoot). I have had size zeros a nervous wreck in my studio because they didn’t lose the extra 5 pounds they intended to for their session day. I’ve had curvy women love every wobbly bit, tall women shrink to make themselves shorter, short women revel in their petite-ness, thin women wish they could have a bigger bum, and women with big bums find that the most sexiest part of their body while others find their big bum the biggest nuisance of their existence.

The point is, there is no such thing as perfection.

This lovely gal knew this and this is why I chose her for this shoot. Her curves were so incredible, her legs went on for days and I could have literally just taken a bite out of every wobbly bit. She was so sexy, so confident and radiated love for herself. Does this mean she has no issues with her body? Absolutely not. But she had a level of intimacy and friendship with her body that just made you want to stare at her and try to absorb some of that just by standing next to her. She gets it.

This “accept yo-self” thing seems to be quite the theme for me lately in my blog posts and I want to share with you why. Pay attention here, this is important:

If you think you are the only woman that has an issue with some or all of your body, you are wrong. If you think you are alone in your self-loathing or just in the fact that you believe you need to do one more thing to get it right, you are wrong. We ALL struggle and the more we talk about it and share our struggles, the more we understand that we are all in the same boat. We are together in this. We are not alone. This is our tribe. We are a tribe. Tribes are made of warriors and miracle-makers.

Warriors and miracle-makers have no time for this bullshit. What we do have time for is supporting each other, loving each other, taking care of one another and joining together to make it our mission, as a tribe, to uplift, cheer on and otherwise be the biggest fans of each other.

So here is what I want you to start doing. I want you to find at least one woman every single day and pay her a compliment. I want you to make sure you put your cheerleader glasses on and look for that one woman in a day that you know could use a compliment. It could be a co-worker, your mother, a stranger on the street…I don’t care. The second thing I want you to start doing every single day is looking at yourself in the mirror and giving yourself at least one compliment a day. If you can’t do it while looking in the mirror, then do it when you’re driving, walking, cooking…whatever. I don’t care if you have to lie to yourself at first, just do it. I already practice the former and have for years and it makes me feel SO DAMN GOOD to get that surprised smile from a woman after I compliment her and she says Thank You in that shy but happy kind of “that just made my day” way. I just started doing the latter and it feels SO DAMN GOOD to get that from my own damn self.

I promise you, it will make a difference. It will. It will begin to rework your brain. It will begin to rework your body and yes, then your soul. I had a friend tell me once that if you have a negative thought about yourself, but can prove it wrong, that thought then becomes powerless.

Ladies: let’s start proving ourselves wrong. #putthefuckingbathingsuiton Who’s with me??

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