When I first decided to get another set of professional photos taken (before Christmas), I immediately started to worry about getting leaner again. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to look your best for photos like these, I know that my own tendency is to get annoyed at “having” to look a certain way in the fitness industry, and this makes me start out being really strict, but soon rebelling and going on the “anti-diet” and the “anti-program”. One part of me wants to look “better” and the other part says “why should you” –> that second part knows that I would only do it to pander to an image created by the industry.
The fact is, I need to accept, that I look pretty good the way I am and I should be proud to display the results of my hard work, as it appears 90% of the year. There are times I look leaner and times I don’t, so why put extra pressure on myself to be something I am not (90% of the time anyway). The only time I ever feel unhappy at how I look is when I compare myself to others!
About a month before the shoot, a friend of mine (who is also in the fitness industry) was giving me advice on how to prepare for bikini shots and started telling me to: diet down, get rid of water-weight, get a tan and …. make sure the photographer had a good grasp of Photoshop *brakes screech* Photoshop … as in I need someone who can airbrush??! :-/
Tempted? Yes! Very tempted. But when I saw the photos, I was amazed that I really didn’t see anything I would be ashamed to show the world (ok, except one thing … my over-developed back muscle sticking out of my bra top that made me look weird at certain angles LOL). I’ll be totally honest that the one thing I was most worried about was my lower body and cellulite being really horrible and then me feeling I need to remove the evidence on the photo, so I wouldn’t horrify people in the fitness industry. I became more worried that I’d give in to the temptation to look perfect, verses having cellulite! What a crazy, warped feeling!
Guess what? The photos all turned out amazing, without me feeling this way. I now think my mind has a different image of what I look like compared to what I actually look like! If you look at the “imperfections”, your mind magnifies them x 10! While I felt a bit uneasy seeing some of the photos, it was more to do with my facial expressions and odd body poses that made me cringe (I am not a natural model and the great photos were down to the photographer’s direction IMO).
When I see something I don’t like, I do have thoughts about getting them “fixed” and it is a battle I fight inside. Can it be justified, since after all, I choose not to show all the unflattering poses, or ones with lighting issues. Where do you draw the line? I can’t judge anyone for getting themselves airbrushed, I don’t blame them at all for wanting to look perfect. What I blame is what makes us want to pretend we are perfect in the first place, when nobody is. It’s natural to want people to see you at your best, but how far can you go without losing yourself and becoming nothing short of a liar.
Here is a little taster of one of my favorites. This photo has had nothing done to it and is just raw. While I love the effects that the photography process does (making the colours more edgy or grainy and ready to put on a poster), I also love to show what the original looks like. This is me as I am, which should be enough, right?
How many of us nit-pick about the tiny little “imperfections” on our body that we fail to see the good stuff. For example, this next one… The first time I saw it, my eyes went right for the mid-section because I didn’t like it. But after wising myself up, I saw me smiling and enjoying the fact that I am there to represent me! And who knows, maybe in the process help reassure other women, who have exactly the same fears and body hang-ups as me, that we won’t all hide everything with the airbrush!
It’s easy to make a snap judgement that someone who is “in shape” is 100% comfortable about how they look. About 80% of the time, yes (in clothing), but how about those dreaded bikini moments, or when there’s a down-light? It’s important to remember never to compare yourself with how someone looks, because that is not where we get our self-worth from anyway – believe me, I know!
Why am I writing all of this? Because this was a moment in my life worth a little celebration. If anyone out there thinks that your body image issues go away once you lose fat, get fit or have the “ideal” body, you are wrong!
Body image is the domain of your mind and it is about self-love, self-acceptance, self-confidence and a little bit of a “screw the world” attitude!
I want to make a suggestion that we all try to feel good about how we wear our skin. It may be a temporary shell, but it has a beautiful purpose –> containing WHO we are! Look after it, love it and it will be a better home to your positive, inner self, who understands exactly the true source of your worth!