The first step to creating trust is allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This is me being vulnerable. Thanks for holding space for me to share with you. Whether or not you like these un-photoshopped photos of my body is not the reason I’m writing. The point I’d like to make is that one can have a negative feeling or thought (about one’s body or soul) and yet it doesn’t have to define oneself.
Brought on by stress, I suffered the effects of an autoimmune disease for at least 10 years before it was diagnosed. It affected every day of my life. I thought that crying a lot, being horribly uncomfortable in my body, constantly feeling exhausted, having extreme moods, and a perpetual feeling of bloating/constipation was normal. I didn’t date. I gained a lot of weight. When I would physically exert myself I became swollen like a ripe tomato- my body will never recover from those stretch marks and stretched out skin. I was labeled by my family and friends as grumpy, moody, challenging, and sensitive. I am still working through the remnants of the shame stemming from those formative years. My digestive system can’t process grains and other things well so I have to watch what I eat like a hawk. This disease shaped who I am inside and out.
Why am I telling you this? When I started Texture Clothing in 2001, I wasn’t prepared to hear so many of you speak about your bodies in such a negative way. Each time I witness you speak poorly about your body, it breaks my heart a little bit. I have tears welling up in my eyes as I write this. I have heard that you can’t wear an item because your shoulders are too big, you have too much fat in a certain area, and that you can’t wear a mini skirt because of your knee wrinkles or because are simply too old.
I want to hug the part of you that you aren’t able to, and gently remind you that you are good enough. But it’s almost never the right time to get the message through the thick shell you had to construct to shelter your spirit. I know what’s going on. I had also developed a shield for my precious insides.
This vocation has been an incredible learning experience for me on my journey, seeing how beautiful you are and the way you speak to yourself has made me want to eradicate my own negative self talk. When I first saw these photos of me, wearing just Ophelia Undies and a Ballerina Bralette, I freaked out. I didn’t know I had that much cellulite on my ass! My first thought: Who is going to love me, looking like this? My favorite tool to use (in so many situations) is to notice my feeling or negative self talk but not attach to it. I know that this feeling doesn’t define who I am as a whole person.
We all have things going on ‘inside and outside’. The two are not separate. One affects the other…and we are ALIVE! I hope that you trust me a little bit more, and believe me when I tell you that you are precious!
Here are some things I believe to be true:
- We all suffer from pain.
- Everyone’s journey to attaining a peaceful feeling in their heart looks different.
- Everyone’s journey is valid.
- Noticing, but not attaching to, our feelings leads to more peace.
- Change is possible.
Photos by: Zippy Lomax