I had triplets in September of 2013. Yes, triplets; three babies at one time were in my belly.
With triplets came a world of change, including my body. And with that was body issues I’d never faced before.
I had this pooch in my lower belly that I’d never seen before. I still had what most would consider a “nice body.” Most days I teetered between “I like my body” and “my body is ruined.”
I saw a muffin top that sprouted out of my pants when I sat down.
My breasts were sagging looking like someone put a tennis ball in a sock — OK, it wasn’t that bad, but that is how it felt to me, what I saw.
When I looked in the mirror I tried so hard to love what I saw. I kept telling myself, “Love your body. You had THREE babies in there! You pumped milk from your breasts like a machine in order to nourish them. This is normal!”
I started with positive affirmations in the mirror to myself. It wasn’t always easy but it helped a lot.
Three months after giving birth I contacted a local magazine I had worked with in the past. I told them I wanted to do a photo shoot with the triplets wearing only a sports bra and shorts illustrating a woman embracing her body, even a body that had just birthed triplets!
I wanted to talk about my struggles and determination to love my body no matter the size. My goal was that in being vulnerable I would encourage women to start the same journey to try to fall in love with their bodies.
Even if they wanted to show someone who tipped the scale more than I did or had a few more stretch marks or cellulite, it is not OK to diminish someone else’s struggle.
Acceptance has nothing to do with size. A woman who is a size 20 may be happy and comfortable with her body while a woman who is a size 2 may be struggling with body image issues.
Size and weight don’t matter. They truly are just a number. What does matter though is being happy and comfortable in your own skin, no matter your size. It is a thinking problem, not a weight, size, or number on the scale problem.
I’m not going to lie, that “No,” that rejection, it stung. But it also pushed and challenged me. I wanted to do that photo shoot.
So when they said, “No!” I said, “Yes!” I decided I would do it myself. That rejection turned into our signature event – Embrace Your Body and Girls: Embrace Your Body. It didn’t end up featuring a picture of me and the triplets instead we featured 30 amazing, powerful and inspiring women who all had their own story and journey. Some were that size 2 woman, some a 20 and many in between.
It is so important to me to host this event for girls. I am thrilled to engage in this conversation about self love with woman, but how cool would it be if — through addressing body image issues at a young age — we could keep women from battling self esteem struggles later in life!
There were moms, aspiring models, a grandma battling cancer, dancers and a young girl who was already facing questions of body acceptance.
And this year the group of models we have is even bigger. There are more than 60 women and girls, and their stories are incredible. This is a photo exhibit gala is all about empowering women and girls to love and embrace their body. The Girls: Embrace Your Body event provides programming and activities encouraging girls to love and embrace who they are and to also love and accept other people.
Often “embrace” is associated with physically hugging. To me, that definition is pretty right one. We want people to love themselves, love the skin they are in.
I am working to improve my body every day. As a powerlifter, I want to continue to get stronger each day I am at the gym. But more important than that is loving the body I have TODAY, right now. I don’t want to just love it when I can lift a certain amount of pounds or I see some goal weight on a scale. Nope, I want to love it RIGHT NOW!
PS: I did that photo shoot with the triplets when they were 11 months old.