The Day We Stripped Off In Nature! PART 1
For an overwhelming majority of my life, I felt ashamed of my body. Disgusted, hate and embarrassed are all words that come to mind when I think about how I used to look at myself. Despite how my body amazingly showed up for me day in and day out and did really hard things, I still loathed it. I couldn’t see past the lumps and bumps or my clothes size. I really did believe my worth was based on what I looked like.
I looked at girls, and later women, in magazines and on social media and longed to look like someone else. Anyone other than me would do at times! Thinner, more tanned, less stretchmarks, straighter hair, bigger boobs, smaller hips – the list could go on and on. I liked to believe that although I judged myself, I didn’t actually judge others based on their appearance. If I was so messed up in how I viewed myself, how could I NOT be looking at others in even a slightly similar way? Of course, I had been! This didn’t mean that I viewed others as ugly, or worthless, by any means, but I did have an image in my head of what a ‘beautiful’ woman should look like. I failed to identify uniqueness as beauty. I failed to appreciate the life stories our bodies told as anything less than miraculous. I failed to see how gorgeous women really were, without makeup and nice clothes and fake hair/nails/tans/breasts – yes, each and every one of us! And for the record, fake hair/nails/tans/breasts don’t make us any less beautiful either. Our beauty truly does shine from within.
As I have evolved my thoughts about body image and beauty, I have started to feel a lot more at ease with myself – something that was not easy even a year ago, and sometimes still isn’t if I am brutally honest. But wow have we come along way this body and I! And not only do I see myself differently, but others too. There is a huge revolution taking place around self-love and acceptance, which just makes my heart sing, yet we still feel judged – if not by ourselves, then by others. Women say that other women can be cruel. The very ones that know how it feels. The very ones that battle with themselves in the mirror and endure the same heartache I, and maybe you, once did. I don’t think they purposely do it. I believe it is a result of conditioning, habit if you will. And that doesn’t mean it is okay, it just means we need change our mindset to overcome it.
I have a passion for normalising normal bodies. Mine, yours, your Moms, your sisters. I don’t want to see the one type of beautiful woman in the media. I want to see diversity. I want to see raw un-photoshopped images. I want women to see other women and identify with them. I want young girls to know that the one thing we have in common is that we are all different, and that is beautiful! I want women to know they are okay just as they are – they are enough! I want women to know that some of us are tall, short, curvy, straight, black, white, and it is okay. Some of us have muscles, or don’t and it is okay. Some of us have blonde hair and some have black, straight and curly, natural or not, and it is okay. When we realise this, we become empowered. We take back our power and no longer base our worth on whether we, or the woman next to us, has some cellulite or not.
It is time to appreciate, embrace and celebrate all women. It is time to love and accept yourself and your sisters. There is something to be said about being vulnerable and embracing what you once thought you couldn’t. By showing others it is okay, you are almost giving them permission to try it for themselves, and so the ripple effect continues… I should add that by doing so, it can be very confronting and challenge everything you have previously told yourself – as you will soon read about!
Last year, not long after my bikini pic (below) went viral, I realised how powerful a photo can be. At the time, I received so many messages from women all over the world saying thank you. Thank you for showing them that they could do that, or thank you simply because they, or their daughters, could relate to me and my story. So, taking more photos to continue empowering others sounded like a great idea! I lovingly invited a group of gorgeous women I know, to strip back and help me portray a message I feel so passionate about – one of body positivity and self-love! We are all moms. We have all been on our own journey to wellness and self-love. We all took a step or two (or ten!) outside of our comfort zone to make this photoshoot happen, because we all believe in women supporting women and not only accepting but embracing all we are.
Photo: Krystal Gordon
The Day of the Photoshoot
So, off we set! We drove an hour and a half to reach our beautiful location, and then donned our backpacks for a hot and sweaty mile long walk through bush and climbing rocks to reach the rockpools. There was no one around and nothing but the sounds of nature playing in the background. It was pure bliss! We all felt very relaxed and grounded being there, despite some earlier nerves about what we were going to do. To be honest, I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect group of sisters to be doing it with. Most photoshoots involve fancy hair and makeup and mirrors and lights – but not this one. We had just gone on a bushwalk for starters, and there was certainly no mirrors or creature comforts around.
As we arrived and took off our clothes to reveal our Parfait underwear underneath, we were all a little surprised at how comfortable, beautiful even, that we felt. There is something very empowering and liberating about embracing a body that you once loathed. Our day was filled with a beautiful mixture of laughter, gratitude, love and precious still moments. I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous location and really strip down. Me. Someone that less than a year ago, hadn’t even worn a bikini to the beach. My heart definitely beat a little faster as I removed the little clothing I was wearing, and skipped over to the perfect spot on the rocks – here I was, just me and mother nature (and a camera pointed at me!) and wow, I was okay. I was more than okay! I was free. And it was amazing!
We took a series of group photos and some individual ones to really celebrate our uniqueness too. After a couple of hours, we pulled our clothes and shoes back on and headed back through the bush to drive home. We were all on cloud nine! We were certainly feeling empowered, grounded and grateful, and were already planning on organising another similar afternoon out in nature together. The next day, our amazing photographer, Morgan Parremore, sent me through a link to check out the photos. What happened next was totally not what I expected…