Loving Your Body | Hampton Roads Photographer | Women Empowerment
42% of girls 1st through 3rd grade want to be thinner. 80% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. 60% of people who self harm are females. Our country is in a crisis. Starting at a young age we are programed to hate our bodies if we are not thin and meeting Hollywoods standards.
Summer is my very first empowerment session. Her story hits close to home for me. Having lived with body issues my whole life, I have nothing but respect for her perspective and journey. I started empowerment sessions to not only lift up women but also to spread love and empowerment to other women by the stories that I can share.
I asked Summer if she looked back to her adolescence if there was a time she lacked confidence. What was it that she was struggling with at the time? Her answer like most women our age was that she lacked the love and acceptance for her body. It caused severe bouts of depression and many years where she physically harmed herself to cope with the intense hate she felt. She said seeing other women who she looked up to constantly criticizing and picking apart their own bodies caused her to acquire that same negative self talk. It's one of the reasons she tries to caution her friends and family about putting themselves down in front of their children.
"Children are always listening and internalizing behaviors they see." Summer said.
I asked Summer how she managed to overcome the slippery slope of self hate and harm. She told me that her husband, whom she has been with for 15 years, has always told her she was beautiful. His reassurance has helped her see the beauty in herself. It was not until she had her own children that she gained the confidence and self love. It's something she didn't really have until she became a mother.
"Loving another person unconditionally helped me learn how to love myself. After having children I also gained a new appreciation for my body and what it's capable of and finally found a way to see how beautiful it really is, imperfections and all." Says Summer.
I asked Summer if the session helped her to see her power and beauty. She said
"Yes definitely. You can see how much I love my daughter in these photos. There is nothing more beautiful than that."
I then asked her if they made her feel more empowered as a woman and she said
"Very. They have captured a body that grew life, how it is currently sustaining that life, and the little person it gave life to. That is incredibly special and empowering."
You can have someone tell you that you are beautiful so many times. Until you see it yourself you will not believe it. I asked Summer what would be the one thing that you could tell your younger self? What do you want women to know that are suffering through the same thing you did.
"Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Happiness comes when you realize it's possible to appreciate your own traits and qualities that make you unique and beautiful, even if they are different from others you may admire.
Summer is making sure that her daughters grow up to love their bodies because they see their mom loving hers. It starts with us. We are the key to changing the future. We just all have to believe that we can do it.