Tremendously Rewarding and Difficult

My Journey to self-love has been tremendously rewarding and difficult.

Growing up, my father was very strict. I was never allowed to wear my hair down, shave, wear nail polish, show any parts of my skin; unless I was playing volleyball for my school, and talking about boys or even being around a boy (even if it was out of my control) was completely forbidden and there were always consequences.

Well, because of this I was bullied a lot throughout my middle school years. I was the chubby awkward girl who smelled like BO (couldn’t wear deodorant, I was too young), had a uni-brow, and always wore turtle necks and pants even when it was blazing hot outside. This killed my self-confidence, completely. When I was a freshman in high school, I would put outfits in my backpack (that I wasn’t allowed to wear), and when I got to school I would go into the bathroom and change, let my hair down, but on a tiny bit of makeup and start my day. Then every single day after school I would go back into the bathroom and change back into the girl I had learned to hate. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I met my boyfriend (who I am still with today) that my father decided to let me wear and do whatever I wanted. Besides, he said that my boyfriend was now my boss when it came to that so it was out of his control at that point. My boyfriend never controlled what I wore or what I looked like, if anything; I was in a way still dressing like I used too because that all I really knew but even when I tried to dress up, I still felt ugly. No matter how much makeup I put on my face, I still saw the same thing in that mirror that everyone would say I was. I was ugly, fat, smelled bad, hairy, steroid girl; because of my wide shoulders, no one would ever want someone like me. My boyfriend constantly reminded me of my beauty, he would always tell me that I was the most beautiful when I had no makeup on, were you could still see the angel kiss mark that I have on my face, that was his favorite he said. It didn’t matter to me how much I was told, I never saw what he saw.

After I had my son, when I was 19 years old I became even more depressed about myself. Not only was I grieving the loss of my child but I also hated the body that I now had. I have stretch marks that run up my stomach, the mom pooch is at its full extent, and my boobs just hang. Throughout my life as a child and growing up to who I am now, I have always had this one friend who is more like my sister, she has always reminded me of how incredible I am for even carrying a child. She reminds me that I need to look at my life as a whole and remember where I came from. She always reminds me of how proud she is of me and tells me to start appreciating myself and the strength that I have taken for granted.

I know that this journey of loving myself will take up to a life time, but when I tell you that I have come such a long way, I mean it.

Back in July of 2018 when I decided I wanted to do my boudoir shoot with Molly, I struggled with a back and forth fight with myself on whether or not I was even deserving of doing something like this. I talked myself out of it so many times. I was so nervous and so anxious.

I still remember sitting in the car with my best friend and telling her that I was thinking about doing this, she looked me dead in my eyes and said “you’re THINKING about doing this? What is there to even THINK about? You need this”. That night before I booked my shoot, her words ran through my head over and over again. She was right, what was there to even think about? The cost? Well, I can work that out with the photographer. The reason? She is right, I need this, and my reason is myself. I AM my reason, yes of course my boyfriend will see them as well, but at the end of the day the love that I have for myself is NEEDED it’s not a question. The raw and real beauty within me that I was blind too is needed to be seen. So with that thought in mind I went ahead and booked.

That day, I pulled up to her studio; SUPER early and called my sister in law, I told her that I was so nervous and I told her I couldn’t do this. She gave me the best pep talk and told me to suck it up and go in. As soon as I walked into the studio, I was greeted by Claire; Molly’s makeup artist, and Molly herself. She greeted me right away with a big hug, I let her know how nervous I was right away and she reassured me that it was going to be okay and that we would never do anything that I didn’t want to do. She asked me what my image was going to look like for my shoot and I told her I had absolutely no idea. She guided me through everything, I was treated like I was royalty, as I sat in the makeup chair getting my hair and makeup done drinking my mimosa, molly asked me about myself and we talked, I swear I felt like I had known her for years at that point. I was so comfortable around her and I knew right away this was going to be an experience of a life time.

Once my hair and makeup was done, Claire left leaving me looking and feeling so beautiful. Once it was time to shoot, it was just me, molly and music in the background. I can’t put into words just how amazing I felt that day; it’s an experience that no one can ever take away from me.

You cannot put a price on taking your life back and when I tell you that I am not the same anymore I mean that from the deepest parts of my soul. I walked out of there that day leaving every ounce of insecurity I had about myself, behind me. This experience made me realize that the message behind my father’s madness wasn’t to get me to be bullied or to kill my self-esteem and self-confidence. It was to allow myself to realize that the beauty I had inside of me was more important than whatever I looked like on the outside. Looking back now, I always remember crying to my father about why he did this to me, I still remember begging him and telling him that I was being picked on because of what he made me look like and he would always say to me “this is who you are, and this is what you will always look like, you need to start accepting that.”  

After my shoot, a few days later; I went into Zealous Stills Studio for my reveal. The pictures completely exceeded my expectations.. I couldn’t believe I was looking at myself. The photos were without edit at the time and even then they were perfect. The little middle school girl to the body after birth; she was still there of course and in disbelief I said “that’s me.”  And she replied with “yes, that’s you” as she scrolled through the pictures something inside of me shifted, I felt whole.

To this day I look at those photos and I am in

complete awe.

I am still the same person; I will never forget where I came from and what I have been through. I was shamed for my size and the way that I looked. It is unfortunate that we live in a world that is so shameful towards sizes and physical appearance. Over my last 24 years of life, I have learned to be kind to my body and accept myself just the way I am. After all, happiness starts with learning how to love yourself first.

At times it can be discouraging because we will always have the world telling us how we should be living, looking and feeling but that is not for the world to choose, don’t let them decide who you can and cannot be.

I am blessed to have people in my life that have stuck by me while I figure myself out. My best friend has always encouraged me to put myself first and has consistently reminded me of the challenges I have faced; she reminds me of my worth. My father has tried to teach me my whole life that looks don’t matter and it’s what is inside that matters. My boyfriend has loved me through my darkest moments and reminds me every day of my beauty. My fellow brand ambassadors teach me EVERY SINGLE DAY about self-love and confidence. But most importantly the most rewarding lesson I have learned is from the message through the art that Molly creates with her brand; the most important thing in life is never how the world sees me, but how I see myself. She brought out a side of me I knew was always there but never accepted to see. When I say my life changed that day, I mean that.

My journey doesn’t stop here, my story will continue, the day I walked out of that studio, was the day I started living.