Working Myself out of Body Shame

Body shame. It’s something that I have struggled with for many years with as a child, teenager, and adult. It’s something that occurred even before I developed an eating disorder and it’s something that I still battle.

I was a pretty unhealthy kid and growing up I slowly made choices to improve my health and life. I was never the pretty girl in school. I was the girl who went through puberty early and had breasts before she realized what happened. Over my teenage years and into my young adult life I felt my value as a person was based on the number of the weight scale. 110 lbs was the goal to stay with and I hoped that I would gain approval and respect from my peers.

My biggest trigger of body shame was pornography. How can you feel like a desirable woman when your partner or spouse is continually using that as their means of escape while they leave you in the shadow of self-depreciating worth?

I looked at myself naked in the mirror. My hands would cup my humble breasts; genetics for larger ones seemed to slip through the cracks. My father’s side of the family is busty and even tho I look more like a Smith than a Warren. My breasts escaped size. Not to say they hadn’t been larger, but they were the first to go when I lost weight.

My stomach would be next under my critical judgment. My hands would flow down my soft panes and the slight curve at the bottom. I feel because of high-waist jeans while growing up coupled with the fact I was heavier. I’m very sensitive. I still at times have a difficult time not looking at my stomach in the morning. I’ll turn side to side and judge it, I love when I wake up from sleep and my stomach looks beautiful, soft, fit, and flat. Over the course of the day, after you ingest foods and coffee, your stomach becomes fuller. I feel mine is more noticeable since I have a shorter waist. I am too hard on myself.

My legs I don’t find fault with aside from the veins on the backs of my knees. My arms I like, minus the softer areas between my bust and armpit. Heck, I’ve even judged my vagina. How can you not? When you’ve been discarded as much as I have, you think something must be wrong with you somewhere.

Before I got divorced, I decided to do something I had thought would be a bit ballsy. I became a vulva model. Online there is a small business I found on Facebook. Actually, I remember my friend sending me a link. “This is neat, but really weird!” and I found the artistic renditions of vulvas beautiful. Vulva Love Lovely had send a shout out on Facebook about looking for models. I was fascinated and jumped in. After my divorce, I emailed the creator an updated and more in-depth version of my story. It was amazing that a series of changes in my life had a domino effect on me.

I do feel more beautiful now than I did a mere two years ago, but there are still the arguments in my head that I am not beautiful enough. If you are a breast man, that’s great, but you’ll have to learn to love my ass instead. I may not have a washboard stomach but it is shapely and I’m trying my best to respect it for being part of me. I have a fit body. I have a body that I can overall respect even though I wish I could “fill in” some areas.

Acceptance over time grows but it is a day-by-day action that has some struggles here and there. Sometimes one of the best things you can do to find acceptance with yourself is do something bold and spontaneous. I went back and forth for months before I sent in my photos and story; I did honestly think “what if my vulva isn’t pretty enough?” For someone somewhat reserved and not thrilled with her physical appearance some days, I found my vulva transformed into a beautiful work of art. I found some love for myself.

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