INTIMATE PARENTHOOD SESSIONS: An Introduction into New Offerings
As I watch my two beautiful little beings grow, their bodies transforming day to day, I can't help but be in awe of their perfection. Flawless from the beginning and into the here and now, I marvel at their pride in their bodies as they proclaim, "I have a sweet little belly!" "Yes! Yes, you are perfect!" I echo enthusiastically, hoping that their self love will ingrain deeply into their souls, for I know that one day that love will be challenged and may waver.
I fortunately have mostly loved my body throughout my life. There were times when bullies cruelly taunted me about my large ears (and trusted adults told me I should have cosmetic surgery to have them pinned back) and friends teased me for having a flat chest where slivers of insecurity penetrated my heart. Yet, all in all, I have felt comfortable with my body. Feeling like myself, feeling familiar in my own skin? That's another story...
When I became a mother, pregnant with my first child, my very first stretch marks crept down my thighs like paintings of fierce, purple lightning. I recall having a twinge of anguish as my body became less familiar to me and I briefly indulged in homemade and store bought remedies that promised to prevent or lighten my new marks of motherhood. I felt least familiar with my body after having my babies. Even years after the last birth, I would look into the mirror, studying with true wonder and amazement the tiny folds of my loose belly skin and my comically "halfway innie/halfway outie" belly button, which seemed to have gotten stuck at its midpoint after the birth of my son. Despite the fascination I felt about my body, I did not recognize it.
I have this incredible friend who is in her late 50s. A few years ago she commented on how much her face had aged. I'm sure I responded with a light eye roll and a "you look amazing" smile to which she asserted, "You have to understand, in my mind, I'm in my twenties and what I see in the mirror doesn't match up." I completely get it now. In my mind, I'm still a stick thin, all elbows and angles, twenty-something who once earned the affectionate nicknames "Telephone Pole" and “Stretch” for being so tall and skinny, yet when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was pink, rippled softness. Fascinating, but surely not the body that belonged to me.
Earlier this year, I found myself audibly oohing and aahing over these gorgeous, lush images of postpartum bellies. The individuals in these photographs were part of a project to reacquaint themselves with their new bodies. The goal was not self love, but was moreso about self acceptance. "Self acceptance?" I thought. I could do that. Here I was, falling in love with strangers' soft, stretched skin--certainly I could come to accept mine. And so I embarked on a self portrait project, kicking off with an unadulterated photograph of my own gorgeous, lush, lightning marked belly and thighs. I shook with anticipation as I pulled these images into my post-production program. Jumping from image to image, my smile grew. The excitement and joy I felt surely were streaming out of my eyes and radiating from each pore of my skin. "I'm beautiful." I had hoped for a simple re-acquaintance with my body. I found love instead.
Of course, there are small parts of my body I wouldn't miss--a few pounds on the legs and more than a few red spots that appeared during each pregnancy--but despite those bits, I now accept and love myself. I now feel familiar again.
I've slowly started to share some of my self portraits and I've honestly been surprised and saddened by some of the responses I've received. Many folks have called me "brave" for simply looking directly into the camera. Others have told me to feel lucky that I like myself so much because they don't like their bodies and, therefore, will not be in photographs. Moreover, I've had loved ones confess to me how uncomfortable they are with their weight or aging bodies and more than a few have made unkind comments about themselves in my presence. All of these words sit heavy in my heart.
Just as I feel about my incredible children, I know that at one point most of us have had a parent or a loved one in our lives who looked at us and knew we were perfect and we knew they were right. I wish that trust never ended.
But for those of you who have fallen out of love with your body or feel unfamiliar or uncomfortable in your skin, I'd like to help reacquaint you with yourself. If you're feeling courageous and you're willing to be vulnerable with me, I'd like to photograph you, raw, as you are. I guarantee that I will see the beauty and perfection that is you and my hope is that you will be able to look at these photographs of your body and recognize yourself in them. Acceptance and familiarity will be the goal...self love, the bonus. I want my children to always feel like their bodies are perfect and the more we accept ourselves, the more we teach our own children and our world's children how to accept and love themselves just as they are.
If you’re ready to celebrate your body let’s talk or click here to learn more about my Intimate Parenthood Sessions.