I spent the past weekend in North Carolina with 15 other women in my industry, as part of a year-long business mentorship led by the wonderfully insightful and inspiring Jill Coleman. I had some anxiety and nervousness leading up to the shoot, as fitness model I am not, but I never anticipated how the experience would create a powerful sense of contentment and acceptance for exactly the person that I am.
I did not expect that a photo shoot would make me feel more confident and secure in my body, rather than obsessive and overly critical.
I did not expect that spending time with a group of other female fitness professionals would make me feel empowered and connected, rather than envious and comparative.
I did not expect that a spray tan, manicure, styled hair and professional make-up would make me feel beautiful in my own skin, long after I left the shoot.
A huge part of the overall feeling of success from the weekend was due to the connectedness I felt to the women I met there. We have been in contact virtually in our mentorship group over the last few months, but meeting in person, expressing shared experiences and struggles with one another allowed me to feel so much less alone on the path of entrepreneurship and self-acceptance. It’s easy to spiral down into our own doubts and insecurities, but the antidote is often found in a fresh perspective. Surrounding yourself with people who see you for all that you have to offer, despite (and perhaps because of) your imperfections, allows you to let go of old ways of thinking.
Having a mentor and a support system this year has played a huge role in my journey. At times my mentorship group has been a safety net, at other times a nudge the right direction, and sometimes, like this weekend, the group has been like a friend (or 15) by my side, walking this path with me, and reminding me that I’m not alone.
While I won’t claim that every single day is lovey-dovey, brimming with hugs, flowers, and unwavering self-acceptance (as I have my moments of insecurity just like everyone else), I’ve come a long way in owning who I am in this world. Most days, I love that woman exactly as she is. I love who I am in mind, spirit, and, though it may have taken a little longer, in body.
Reviewing the rest of my proofs (which I can’t share just yet!!) from the photo shoot has been surprisingly positive, too. Maybe it has to do with all the hair, makeup, lighting, and tan…but I can just see me. I don’t need to obsess over the little imperfections, or focus on what body parts I wish to be different. I don’t need to look like a fashion model or fitness competitor to look healthy and happy. Instead, I see curves and softness and femininity, right alongside muscles and strength. I see a woman who creates change in the people she meets. I see a woman who is at home in her skin, who uses her body and movement to increase the joy in her life.
I can see me as a whole in these pictures, and not the physical “flaws.”
I’ve had countless ups and downs while working towards self-acceptance. It’s not easy, and it didn’t happen effortlessly. I’ve had to put in some serious time, introspection, and dig through some uncomfortable emotions. I’ve had to seek out support from others. I’ve had to want to change, and reengage every day to get where I am today.
But ultimately, with each passing day I feel better and more secure. Experiences like the ones from this past weekend inspire me to continue. I’m proud to share these pictures (and more coming soon!) with the world. And even more so, I’m grateful to be in a position to help others get to this point, too.
Do you feel like you are tackling this journey alone? Then definitely get over and like my FB page, where we can interact and I hope to help you stay motivated and engaged, and learn to feel at home in your body!
I want to hear from you! Let me know: Have you ever had a professional photo shoot done? How did the pictures change your self-image? Have you ever gotten a spray tan before? 🙂