Do you remember the first time noticing you had a “body” as a young girl? I do.
I remember the exact shirt I was wearing the day my mom said “it’s time for a bra”….I was 9. And although that was very true, I can’t remember a day I haven’t hyper focused on the imperfection of my body in every mirror every day since: public restrooms, the one I hung over the back of my bedroom door, dressing rooms….ugh dressing rooms. They were my real life Satan for sooo many years and even still can be super triggering for me. *PAUSE* You would think the best marketing scheme of all time would be to have PERFECT lighting in all dressing rooms so you want to buy everything, rather than nothing. AM I RIGHT?! *I DIGRESS*
I remember for years avoiding any photo that showed my full body, and I was almost always the one saying “I’ll take the pic!” especially in the summer where we were all wearing tank tops and bathing suits. I wanted to hide my body as much as possible – I still can’t define why, other than because it didn’t line up with what I saw on TV and in magazines or friends or coworkers. Comparisons and societal “norms” tore me the fuck apart for most of my life.
As much as I talk about this being something I struggled with *growing up* .. this is all still VERY real for me today twenty years later. The past few years have been immensely eye opening about my identity and my body. I have more days where I look in the mirror happy or proud, than I do ashamed or disappointed. The days I shake my booty in underwear in my house are higher in count than those I used to try to hide my tummy rolls from my HUSBAND, the one person on this planet who appreciated my body most. Was I seriously HIDING from my husband?
This photo goes back about 10 years. My husband found it on his old laptop about a month ago. My first thought last month was how beautiful my skin was and how thin I looked. My second thought was….”I used to think I was so fat here” and it really made me SAD. So sad that I wasted so much energy and tears on obsessing over the adorable teenager/early 20s babe I was! If you take anything away from this post, please let it be to help young women love their bodies and appreciate them.
This next photo was taken about 4 years ago. Remember what I said about bikini photos? Yeah I was pretty horrified by this pic. Again I look back and think “ARE YOU FUCKIN REAL LEISH?! LOOK AT HOW HAPPY YOU LOOK!” I was so happy in this moment. It was 4th of July weekend, I was on the beach and this enormous float that we kept getting tipped off of while we already had a buzz on. I remember laughing so hard my abs literally hurt the next day. Yet when I first saw this photo 4 years ago, all I could stare at was my stomach. I look at this pic now and think of how proud I was of myself for getting back in the gym that summer.
I could go on forever about this. And I’m sure a lot of you can relate to these feelings. And If they are triggering, I am sorry and I am here for you. Please know you are beautiful as you are.
The last ~3 years have really changed the love I have for myself and my body. I am so grateful to have found not just one, but a few communities that have taught me the TRUTH about my body and my self identity and have brought friends I call sisters and family into my life that are constantly empowering me, encouraging me to kick ass and providing love, comfort, support and BODY POSITIVITY.
Today I was inspired by some amazing ladies on Instagram to post some vulnerable photos of myself. And I’m doing so for myself and for all women out there who struggle with body image.
You are strong. You are beautiful. You are enough.
I am strong. I am beautiful. I am worth it.