Embrace yourself

9:08:00 AM,20 Comments

Today is not about sewing.  Today is about love.  A wonderful video by Taryn Brumfitt is going around the Internet and it really hit home for me.  Her planned documentary "Embrace," will show how women feel about their bodies, how much we loathe ourselves, and what we can do to change our views.  

I've been struggling with body image issues my entire life.  As a little girl I was the chubby kid.  I liked dance, especially ballet, and this unfortunately only made my self esteem issues worse.

Pretty sure the maroon velvet dress wasn't helping my self esteem issues, haha

I remember sneaking food as a child, not wanting anyone to see me eat it.  This stayed with me through me teenage years as I continued dancing, and as a ballerina, thought I was huge.  I felt ginormous compared to my other ballet friends.  At 5'6 and wearing a size 6/8, I thought I was disgusting.  I look back at photos and see how beautiful I was, but I couldn't see that then.

My weight flipped flopped my entire adult life.  I've been all over the map and the feelings of not measuring up and self loathing have always been there, regardless of my weight.

After my second son was born, I lost a significant amount of weight, and while I loved the number that my pants now said I was, it didn't change the internal conversation that was continuously happening inside my head.  

Right after Max was born

A year later, down to my goal weight

The problem was that now I loved how I looked in my clothes, but still hated my body.  I was hiding how much I disliked myself from everyone, putting on a happy face.  It's an awful feeling, to not see what everyone else sees.  I was getting tons of compliments on how great I looked, but I still had all this turmoil inside.

And now I have child #3, a daughter.  And all I can think about is how I don't want her to be like me.  I want her to look up to me, and see how she should love herself and her body.  She will be bombarded with images of how she should look, act, feel.  I want her to have a role model who shows her that what she sees on TV is not how you have to be.  That she is beautiful and loved.

Me with my family on Easter 2014

I'm in between what I call my happy and unhappy weights.  It's been much harder this time around to lose the weight.  Almost 2 years later and I can't get it off.  I've joined a gym to help, but that doesn't change the mental aspect of this all.  We as a society, we as women, need to wake up!  It's OK to not be a size 0.  The average woman is a 14.  We need to learn that any size is beautiful.  It's not about the number, it's about how we feel!

I had a wonderful conversation with one of my friends the other day about self esteem.  She is on the other side of this problem.  She is thin and has always had problems gaining weight.  Her friends and family make comments to her about how she should eat more and how skinny she is.  What they don't know is that she eats and eats, but can never seem to gain weight.  She is just as hurt by their comments of how "skinny" she is as I am about me being "fat".  

What I hope we all can learn is that no one knows the struggles that another person is dealing with.  My weight issues could be more easily managed with working out more and eating a little better, but I also have other health issues that work against me, causing me an extremely hard time to lose weight. My friend can't gain weight, no matter how hard she tries.  You don't know the struggles someone else is going through.  

So, what's the point?  We all have struggles.  No matter how big or small, no matter how happy someone appears to be, we all struggle.  And for women, it's magnified 1,000x.  But the real problem is not size you are, it's how you feel about yourself.  You are not disgusting, a bean pole, fat, frumpy, ugly, squishy, skin and bones, ginormous.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!  Your body is amazing, you are amazing, you are worthy of love and you are loved!  

I'm working on this concept everyday.  I am learning to love myself how I am, with my faults, my fat, my newly forming wrinkles, my tired eyes...should I go on?  Embrace yourself, embrace the changes that are happening, because next month, next year, 10 years from now the likelihood that you will look back and say, "I was beautiful, I wish I looked like that now," is pretty high.  

If you'd like to help Taryn's documentary "Embrace" change lives, go here and donate whatever you can.  We deserve the chance to start embracing ourselves.

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  1. What an amazing post. Please know that others, including myself, do see you as beautiful. :)

  2. <3 this!!!!! I couldn't agree more!

  3. What an inspiring, amazing post! Here's how i see you: gorgeous, classy, elegant, stylish, chic, creative, stunning, fierce and best of all (to me) sister. I love you with all of my being!

  4. You are beautiful friend! Inside and Out!!!! I love you. Thank you for speaking from your heart!

  5. I'm just going to admit here that when we tested that pants pattern, I thought you were really pretty and I was just a little jealous of your curves! Body image is so tough for everyone with the way we're all marketed to. Obviously we wouldn't need all those products if we were actually pretty enough naturally? I think finally, as an adult and mom of three, I've started to get over not feeling pretty enough. It's a hard lesson to learn!

    1. Darcie, isn't it crazy how ones person's perception of beauty can be so different for another's?? The image of beauty that is thrown in our faces on a daily basis so unacheivable and unrealistic! And thanks for putting a smile on my face! I'm slowly learning to love those curves :)

  6. This is a wonderful post. My husband struggled with weight as a child and is very body conscious and as a woman I have internalized all the stuff we have flung at us. My very little son made an innocent comment repeating something one of us had said and we were both horrified. Since then we have made a strong effort to be more healthy about all this related to self image with both of our kids. We tell them we go to the gym to get strong, nobody is allowed to call themselves fat etc. They are going to get lots of ugly messages from the world around them and I think modeling behavior about being comfortable in our bodies and what is real will help them in the long run. -rachel

  7. This will probably sound bad, but please read through with an open mind.

    I believe this type of thinking is wrong and misguided.

    My own philosophy on it is that we don't need to convince all women (or all people) they are beautiful, we need to convince them and ourselves that looks don't matter so much in and of themselves.

    Trying to convince people they are beautiful no matter what is just as harmful as convincing people they need to fit certain beauty standards. In many cases, it's even more harmful. The important thing is to be healthy. Various people will look different when healthy; there is no standard for that. When someone is overweight or underweight and someone tells them they are beautiful just the way they are, the person saying that is putting more importance on how someone feels emotionally than how healthy they are. In the long run, it's actually harming both their physical and emotional health. We all know, deep down, that we aren't beautiful when we aren't healthy, no matter how hard others or we ourselves try to say otherwise. We'll always doubt, and we'll never be confident in our looks if our bodies are telling us we aren't healthy.

    Physical beauty isn't always about things that can be controlled, such as weight and attire. There are so many people that have serious physical deformities or injuries that will never, for even a moment, believe they are visually beautiful. Are such people doomed to eternal unhappiness because of how they look? Should they go through the remainder of their lives feeling a lack of confidence they can never overcome? Is physical beauty really so important that we need to try to convince them of something that they will never believe?

    When people are healthy and happy, or at least as healthy as their bodies allow them to be (not everyone is able to exercise regularly, and many people literally cannot eat all the foods they need to in order to be truly healthy, among many other considerations), they WILL be beautiful to others. Not to all, certainly, but nobody is beautiful to everyone. Even those who are marred beyond any human visual attractiveness will attract others when they are healthy, happy and confident. As health is relative, and for whatever reason us humans tend to recognize and respect the effort of being healthy far more than the effort of being physically beautiful, there is far more emotional reward for aiming for health than being visually beautiful. This is true in our images of others and ourselves.

    Emphasizing beauty for any reason, negative or positive, is to place importance upon it. As beauty is entirely subjective, and nobody will ever be beautiful to everyone, nobody can ever be truly confident in their physical beauty. Therefore, the more emphasis we place upon it, the more unstable a base we build for our own and our loved ones' emotional health.

    Visual beauty is only a lure. Health, happiness and confidence are the snares that we can use to keep people around. To make people want to be around us. Because what is beauty? I already replaced "beauty" with "attractiveness" once, and I'll do it again. In fact, change every instance of "beauty" with "attractive". Then do the opposite with this thought - Our own health and happiness is attractive to others.

    1. While I do agree with some of your points, I think we are talking about two different things here. I am sharing MY story, MY journey here. MY battle overcoming my weight/confidence/emotional issues of embracing myself. I'm not asking people to walk around telling one another he/she is beautiful or handsome. I am saying we must embrace ourselves first and foremost. While you may think we place too much emphasis on beauty, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn't like feeling beautiful or hearing her significant other say she is. And yes, maybe society has "brainwashed" us into that way of thinking, but is feeling beautiful so wrong? I don't think so. I enjoy being stylish, making new clothes for myself, trying to stay current. Why? Because it makes me feel better. I don't do it for you, or my husband, or the woman walking her dog down the street. I do it for myself. And that's really the message I was trying to get across. Take beauty out if you want, but learning to embrace yourself for who you are is a major step to happiness. You don't have to put any emphasis on beauty if you don't believe it's helpful. And I agree that placing too much emphasis on beauty causes, as you said, "an unstable base" for our emotional health. But embracing ourselves is not soley about beauty. And it's definitely not about society's views of beauty. Embracing ourselves is about taking everything we like and dislike and accepting those things, becoming confident in who we are. Learning to embrace who you are will boost your confidence, in turn making you attractive to others, right?? So, like I said, it's not about beauty. The point of this post was it's about me, learning to embrace myself regardless of my weight, my clothes, my insecurities, my faults. It's about me learning to love myself and becomming a good role model for my children.

  8. After reading through your reply several times, it sounds like we're actually very much on the same page, just not communicating it very well.

    Sorry if I misinterpreted your original post. Please allow me to explain why I found the message of telling everyone they are beautiful no matter what in there. The video linked at the top seems to be entirely about body image ("everyBODY is beautiful"). I found that message in several portions of what you wrote, as well."That she is beautiful and loved." "We need to learn that any size is beautiful." "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!"

    I strongly believe that trying to convince people they are physically beautiful no matter what is a harmful thing to do, which is probably why I see that message so clearly in so many things, even if it's not there. On the flip side, perhaps that message is there, even if the authors of those pieces don't truly realize it. Perhaps "beauty" is just a word that is too strongly associated with visual attractiveness, even though it can mean many other things.

    I never said fashion and looking good can't be fun, nor did I attempt to imply that, because I don't believe it. It would be like saying you can't make a healthy meal that also looks good. Making it look good isn't necessary, but it is fun and makes it more enjoyable. People can be the same way. A healthy, confident, happy person doesn't need to look good, but it can be fun to look good. Just because something isn't important doesn't mean it's bad. The emphasis on it, from what I've gathered through my life experiences and the stories others have told, is harmful, not the idea of looking good itself.

    I also don't mean to say that we should never tell people they are pretty, beautiful, handsome or downright sexy. We all want to hear that. It makes us feel good. When coming from a spouse/partner, it can also help strengthen a relationship and invite intimacy. Who the heck is going to complain about that? Certianly not me. What I should have brought up before was that while these things are good in moderation, they should be the least of the compliments we give to each other. Tell someone they are helpful, witty, intelligent, creative, fun or any other characteristic you like about them, and make it mean far more than their looks, and you've got the gist of what I've been trying to get across. By saying those things more often, they become the things that person thinks about when they contemplate what you like about them. If we emphasize looks, that's what we're telling each other our relationship is mostly based on. That's one reason why it hurts people so much when they wonder if their body isn't as beautiful as they think others want it to be; it will diminish the amount of compliments we get and therefore lessen our perceived value to those who emphasize image. If we have plenty of other qualities that we know other people find attractive, we can be far more confident in who we are and not worry so much about one attribute that we have limited control over. It won't be so devastating when we develop wrinkles, go bald, get stretch marks, gain extra weight or lose too much (because it happens even when we try to be healthy), or even get maimed and disfigured by some injury. We still have our self value and the value we perceive our loved ones find in us, because we know we're not valued mostly for how we look. And it would help us communicate what we actually value in our loved ones, encouraging growth and continuation of those very same qualities.

    I challenge everyone who reads this to pay attention to the compliments you and others around you give, in order to realize how heavily weighted image actually is compared to everything else.

  9. We can say we know that our loved ones value us for far more than our looks all we want, but this whole topic wouldn't be such a big deal if we all confidently believed it, would it? I'm advocating a change in our interactions that would, hopefully, go a long way towards making the struggles regarding body image that you, me and nearly all other people go through to be far less emotionally impactful.

    I'm not trying to minimize your struggle, nor your passion for creating the artful clothing that you do. I'm trying to learn from it and from the struggles of so many other people, not just women, that I've listened to, talked to and whose stories I've read. The struggles I myself have and still do go through. Despite the added pressure on women, men have a great deal more pressure than most women understand, including the pressures women themselves extert on men without even realizing they're doing it. I'm trying to make sense of these things, so I can understand how better to treat all the people in my life. I'm trying to find some sorts of remedies to the problems that plague so many, so that I can try to instill attitudes and beliefs in my own daughter to help her with the struggles she'll surely face as she grows up. And I'm trying to be a better husband, son, brother and friend.

    When you shared your story, I read it, and I perceived a message that would not only not solve the problem, but keep it just as bad from the opposite side. That video takes one extreme (unattainable standards of beauty) and pushes it to the other (everyone is beautiful), which, as I've attempted to display, appears to be equally harmful. I know I'm not the best at conveying the ideas I have, and I'm sorry if you took offense. I ask that if you still find what I've said to be offensive, to ask me what I mean by it rather than assuming what I wrote accurately and completely conveys my thoughts to you. While I certainly can't claim that I'm never an ass, I'm truly trying my hardest to express my heartfelt viewpoint on a topic that has had a strong personal impact on me, and which I've spent a great deal of time and emotional energy on.

  10. I always think how photogenic you are in your photos, lady! Great messages in here that I think we should all take to heart :)