Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
I took this self portrait a few weeks ago for the weekly photography challenge over at I Heart Faces and wanted to bring it over here as well. Here's my original entry to go with it:
Self-portrait, huh? I'll admit it; my first inclination was to take a super adorable shot of myself mugging for the camera, like the school photo I never had.
But then I started thinking more; what did I want this photo to *say*?
My portrait for this week is about more than just my face. The stretch marks, the surgical scars, the tiny dots left by large-gauge IVs... all of them, a roadmap to my life, starting with my kidney failure (and almost instant 150 lb. weight gain) in 2001, then my first transplant in 2004 (commemorated by the green ribbon tattoo) to the c-section that brought my son in 2008, the catheter I used for dialysis for 2 years, and finally the most recent addition, the mark left by my second transplant this past September.
They are as much a part of who I am as my face, and so I share them with you.
I haven't always been comfortable with these marks on my body; I've talked to plastic surgeons and dermatologists, googled my heart out, looking for some miracle cure that would give me back the smooth, beautiful skin I took for granted for so long. (Pshaw! So long... I was 23 when I got sick! Practically a child!) I've worn various Spanx type products to keep it all tucked and smoothed. The only thing I would still consider is tattooing... I'd love a piece that circles around my back and towards the front, but it's just not something I can see myself investing the time or money in these days.
I don't have a moment where a light bulb went off and *bing!* I was suddenly more comfortable in my skin... it's been a slow process... almost exactly ten years since I first got sick, actually. There are lots of little things that I think (or like to think!) have pushed me forward towards acceptance.
Jamie falling in love with me, the me WITH the stretch marks, was a big step forward. My first transplant helped too, even though it brought new scars with it. It helped the other marks move further into the past, become just a little less important. Turning 30, same thing. We've all read the articles about how a woman in her 30s is in her prime; I decided that if so many people were saying it, there must be some truth to it, so I decided to go for the gusto in my third decade. Carrying a pregnancy and having Max proved to me, in no uncertain terms, that even my scarred and battered body is capable of amazing things.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I am content with what I see.
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