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Thursday, June 2, 2011

It Took Becoming A Mother

I am striking a pose with confidence for National Swimsuit Confidence Week!
An interesting thing happened last week. I received an email, through FBFF, where it was discussed how Land's End contacted bloggers to feature in swimsuits for their National Swimsuit Confidence Week campaign last week. The email started me down a path that included looking back over my own fear of not just swimwear but body image in general and a pat on the back on where that journey has led me through the years.

That is how this post was born.


When: Sunday, May 29

Swimsuit season has always been a dreaded season for me.

Being so bare and exposed was a terrifying thought to me for a long time.

I can vividly remember standing in the changing room at TJ Maxx with my mom and grandma trying on swimsuits when I was in 6th grade. The adolescent horror of putting on suit after suit and then being asked to come out of the changing room to be critiqued on how it fit and, more importantly to me, where it didn't fit. This, I am sure, was a time old tradition for adolescent girl's insecurity to be tested and I am not the only one who had problems with the process.


Body image issues started at a young age for me and weren't helped by all of the critical dance instructors that I had growing up. I loved ballet and suffered, as so many do, with the intense pressure to look the dancers part while all the while being criticized for having muscular legs instead of thin ones lithe ones.

It took me into adulthood to realize that I didn't need to fit that role in order to be considered good enough or, dare I even say it, attractive, but that was a conclusion that took me a very long time to come to terms with. A process that include an eating disorder, anorexia, and than the need to seek help to teach me how to love myself for who I am, not what I thought I was supposed to be.


It wasn't until my late 20's early 30's (I am currently 36), that I could put on a bathing suit without having a panic attack. I continued to struggle with the nasty voices in my head and wore a cover up most of the time only to throw it off as I quickly went into the water. Mostly, however, I just avoided any situation that demanded that I wear a swim suit or, since I am being honest, obliged in a few cocktails to create some courage.

So you are probably wondering:
How did I not only put on a bikini, but willingly posed for my own personal photo shoot?

It took becoming a mother.

 When I became pregnant, for the first time, I wasn't in the best shape physically or mentally, so I promised myself that I would get into great shape so that I could not only improve my over all health, but also my overall body image. I had learned,  growing up in the family I did, that being "as thin as possible" was the way to be. This is not to say that my family isn't loving, they are, but nasty habits die hard so generation after generation this stinky thinking has been passed down as an ugly heirloom.

I didn't want my child to grow up with the same mindset that I had. I wanted him or her to know that they were fabulous no matter what they looked like, that intellect was more important,  and that it was so important to love themselves. To help set a good example, once Otto was born,  I started kick boxing and weight training. I watched my body be transformed into a muscular and powerful body. I stopped denying my body food and instead learned what was good to eat such as veggies and protein and to limit my bread intake.

 All is not always perfect though and it isn't like I wake up everyday and magically don't look at myself with critical eyes, but I try to keep my little one's in mind and remind myself of the gift that I am giving them when I treat myself with care.

Image: Otto and Ava in the background:)
Thank you Otto and Ava for motivating your Mama to be healthy and love who she is,
 so you will grow up to love who you are!


Enjoy!

XOXO,

Julie

Who:

Bikini: Mossimo (Target, 2010)
Sunglasses: Dollar Section (Target, 2011)
Hat: Dollar Section (Target, 2011)