I am a mother. I am a role model to two growing and changing girls.
I tell them everyday that they are beautiful, that they are radiant; how wonderful they are. I encourage them to grow . . . to learn . . . to challenge themselves. They are the light to my life. I want them to be confident women with healthy body images. To become women who take care of themselves; are empowered. To be women who stand up not just for themselves but for others too. I think that this alone is every mother’s dream.
But what am I really teaching them? For 10 years I couldn’t even look in the mirror.
There is almost no photographic record of me in the first 10 years of their lives. I would harshly cut myself down when complemented or just politely say “well thank you”, or “ha ha…you’re cute.” I was obsessed with the scale, those climbing, accusing numbers. If I did catch a glimpse of myself I would pull apart all that was wrong with me, then lay it as my identity so I knew I was worthless. I would praise my daughters for being beautiful, but cringe when they were told how much they looked like their mother.
I would hate, even loathe people who would compare their beautiful shining faces to mine. Often hoping that they would never see a resemblance for their own sake. How would it be possible for them to see beauty in themselves as they became women, if they saw their mother in the mirror? The woman who never saw beauty or worth in her own image? What was I teaching them?
How could this possibly lead them to a healthy place? Where did I learn this behaviour? How, as a mother of growing girls, could I think this was an acceptable way to lead them to a positive body image?
At the prodding request of my husband, plus encouragement from some close friends, I went for a nude photo shoot. I was horrified at the thought of exposing someone to the horror of my imperfect, disgusting, flabby body.
It was the hardest thing that I had ever done in my life. As a mother it was one of the most important things I could have done, for my self, for my girls. These photos began changing the way I viewed myself. They were the first step to helping me create a healthy body image, a healthy relationship with myself.
They were the first of many steps to revealing my own Inner Spirit. These images have allowed me to become a better mother, a better guide for my girls. To lead them to embracing themselves, their bodies, their scars, even their imperfections as they age.
By being real, by accepting my image, they will know they are beautiful at every shape, size, at any point in their development. I am proud that my kids have seen my naked photos that have helped me go from a self-defeating person, to an empowered woman with positive body image.
I am proud to hang these photos on my wall as symbols of my beauty and power. They are seen as examples of healthy images of a woman’s body as art. They are a statement about me, how I see myself, how I want to be seen. For my tender young women these images are reminders to grow with a loving respect for themselves and their changing bodies, knowing that they are beautiful at all points