In response to the social media trend of January 2019.
Why I’m not posting a 10 year comparison photo:
I’m loving seeing people show how beautiful they are and embracing 10 more years of life. It’s wonderful to see performers who 10 years ago didn’t even believe they could step on stage or become the beautiful creatures that they are. It’s endearing to see parents embracing how the growth of both themselves and their children shows on their faces. It brings hope to see beautiful faces embracing their identities and coming out at the human they truly are.
I have grown in 10 years, I have embraced a much more “real” me. I’ve become unapologetic in my identity. I found an art form that fulfills me. I have a daughter that has gone from a tiring, boundary-testing toddler to a smart, independent young woman. I have a closer connection to my husband. I left a soul-sucking (but nessacary) job and found a career. I have a closer connection with myself.
Looking at a comparison of photos from then to now doesn’t reflect that growth. Looking at a comparison of photos reflects my body’s physical growth from a size 4 to a size 12. The one part of myself I don’t love right now. That being said, I have a better self body image than I did when I was a size 4. (Which frankly was too thin for my health.)
Ten years ago I jumped into pinup modeling. Modeling both made me feel amazing and made obsess about my body. After one of my first photo shoots where the makeup artist came into the room, scanned around and then said, “So, we’re just waiting for the model?”, I quickly dropped from a size 8 (my healthy weight) to a size 4. Due in part to the level of stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and depression I was also battling. But also due to modeling standards.
At that size I bruised easily, was cold in normal temperatures and still thought I was “fat”. Every “suck in your belly” at a photo shoot was a stab at my psyche. Every time a photographer recreated the photo we had made together with a thinner model it knocked my self-image. Every time I got back an amazing photo of me only to realize upon looking closer that they had photoshopped my waist smaller and my boobs bigger I felt inadequate.
I kept doing it because I truly thought it made me feel good. I was pretty enough. I got back some photos I absolutely loved. Some of the photographers I worked with created photos with me that we could both be proud of.
After a couple years in the arena, I learned to be more selective. I learned to only work with the people who truly wanted me as I am, who were enjoyable to work with, who created photos with me that made us both feel great and who gave respectful direction.
I still like doing photo shoots and I’ve had an opportunity to work with some fantastic people over the past 10 years. Today, though, I am highly selective about who I will work with because, yes, I deserve to be selective. I deserve to only accept the shoots that will elevate both myself and the artists I am working with.
Today I may stress about my body size, but it no longer keeps me up at night crying. A comparison of photos from then to now doesn’t show that journey. A comparison of photos from then to now opens personal wounds that I have carefully worked to start healing. I am not my dress size. I feel more confident in my beauty and in my body at this moment than I did then. I see now that beauty comes not just from a waist measurement, but from confidence. I am by no means free of my body image challenges. There will probably always be a part of my brain that criticizes my body. The difference between then and now is that the part of my brain that criticizes my body has much less power over me.
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here…”
The fight to where I am now was worth it and where I am now is where I want to keep my focus. So, keep sharing your 10 year photos if they bring you joy. Share your journey. I’ll keep watching, but I won’t be participating.