I don’t like taking pictures.

Let me clarify. I don’t like being IN pictures.

At least I didn’t.

Growing up, I developed early – C cups at the tender age of 12.

But then, the male gender started looking at me – from horny, pubescent boys to horny, grown men. Have you ever seen a grown man hit on a 12 year old? It’s as uncomfortable for me as it was for any onlookers. I could tell you stories, but that’s for another day.

My already tomboy attitude turned into a full tomboy appearance. Baggy clothes – long shorts and t-shirts were closet staples. Thankfully, it was also the fashion.

I hated any sort of attention and pictures were just a small part of people looking at me. I actively hid from cameras, taking comfort that I am am taller than a lot of women. I could easily stand behind them and poke my head into the frame.

Then, I had children. And I realized that I don’t have any pictures from my youth. More accurately, I have four.

The more pictures that I took of my four children, the more I wanted to have pictures for them to remember me. I didn’t want just a quick selfie that showed me for me.

I wanted to take them, I really did, but the excuses started rolling in:

“I will take them when I lose weight.”

“I will take them when I feel better.”

“I will take them when I have time.”

“I will take them when I have money.”

I went on umpteenth number of diets and lost weight, only to gain it back before I pulled the trigger.

With the added weight, I never feel great. Most days are either bad or not bad.

And time? Who’s got time? With three school aged children, part-time employed and part-time entrepreneur, having time is a construct that others benefit from.

In general, I’m pretty frugal and the idea of paying for a photo shoot just for me seemed like a major waste of money.

Then one day, I woke up.

I’m sure it was a post that I saw in one of my favorite Facebook groups. I wish I had captured it at the time. But it was something like,

When You Begin to Love Yourself Your Relationship With Everyone ...

I’m sure I had read a meme like this before and had read many since. But this time, it hit me differently. I wanted to change the relationship with those around me.

Most of all, I wanted to change the way my daughters saw me. I spent a lot of time talking about how uncomfortable I was and how fat I was.

I knew I needed to make a change when almost daily, my youngest would come and poke my belly and say “mommy’s fat”. But she didn’t know anything about “fat” except what I told her. I had taught her to grab my belly. Every time I grabbed my own belly and mentioned that I was fat, she saw me.

I decided that I needed to change my inner dialogue and what came out of my mouth. To reinforce that, I booked a photo session with a local boudoir studio.

To ease a lot of that inner talk, I purchased the session for my birthday. I looked at these photos at least weekly. These are a constant reminder that I’m a beautiful, sexual being, no matter my size.

I never knew a picture could tell me a new story about myself. These pictures gave me new confidence and a new perspective. I could see some of what others see in me. Not the sexual side, but the part of me that I try to hide.

See, in these pictures, I couldn’t focus on the imperfections. I couldn’t see my weight or my stretchmarks. I couldn’t see the hurt that I’ve hid behind. I couldn’t see my split ends or my uneven skintone.

I could see just “me”. The “me” that I wanted to love and remember. The girl who wanted attention but afraid to seek it. The woman who stands before others. For the first time, I could see it.

That was my 40th birthday gift to myself. And this year, for my 41st, I’m launching this page. Each year keeps getting better and better.

What is it time to reveal?

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