My job to heal with photography most often includes lessons I’ve learned about accepting my body. Other women have often felt the same things.
I used to be skinny. But I didn’t know it. I was 5’6″ and maybe 115 pounds. (And had supple skin and my hairline was a vastly different landscape but we won’t go there.) But I thought I was fat. I told myself so daily.
Add 135 pounds. (I know, I’m asking you to do math. Go ahead and grab a calculator. I hate math.)
Then I felt REALLY fat. I worked hard to be kind to myself at my biggest weight. Since then I’ve lost 100 (let’s be honest, it fluctuates) and will likely never see the numbers 1,1,5 in that order. Nowadays I’m more concerned with maintaining muscle than the number the scale reads.
“Today is the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you’ll ever be again.”
That quote kills me. Think of all the days you wasted thinking you weren’t old enough. Then that you weren’t young enough! We’re so good at wanting to be anywhere but here, in this moment.
I’ve learned to try and embrace this body.
Give it credit for carrying my beautiful son. Give it credit for losing weight. Credit for being able to hug the people who helped along the way. If you need a tutorial on how to put on your best self, check out this video. Put on your optimism!
My fashion tastes have changed a lot over the years.
Lately, I want to be cute but comfy. I was in Target looking for (gasp!) crop tops that would work with some of my long skirts. This is a style I stumbled across recently to help survive Hades (I mean “Southern Humid Summer”). I’ve been careful to choose high rise skirts and crop tops long enough to cover my belly.
Until now. Dun dun duuuun.
Target had the CUTEST crop top. I hesitated to pull the hanger off the display rack at all.
I felt ridiculous taking it to the dressing room. I hid it between two dresses so that the folks working the dressing room wouldn’t see it in my arms. Surely they would think I was crazy!
I tried it on. It was glorious on. It was so light and soft. I knew it would feel deliciously airy in the heat. But the skirt I had on set so low on the hips that part of my (in no way “flat”) tummy was exposed. I turned this way and that critically trying to talk myself out of it. I finally texted dressing room shots to my besties.
So I bought it. And I’ve worn it. And guess what? NOBODY NOTICED!
Random strangers did not point while laughing at me for being ridiculous. No well-meaning stranger pulled me aside to tell me my stretch-mark covered stomach shouldn’t see the light of day. No cars crashed. No hole in the earth opened to swallow me up in my embarrassment. Children did not cover their eyes in terror and scream about doomsday. The world went on oblivious to my fashion whims.
And I rocked a crop top.
Please excuse the mirror selfie. My four year old said with great certainty that he did not want to take a picture of me. I’ll analyze that another day. He did tell me after that, “You’re the most boo-ti-fullest mommy in da whole wide WORLD.”
Now IF someone had something mean to say, I would hope I’d have the guts to stand up for myself like this amazing girl. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and all shapes and sizes should be able to dress in ways that make them happy.
What are you afraid of trying because you’re certain that others will judge you? So what if they do? The world doesn’t end. It’s too freaking hot to be all covered up.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, Iman Woods.