When was the last time you loved having your picture taken? We live in an age where social media and easy camera phone accessibility makes it so we are constantly finding ourselves in a "photo taking situation". As I've mentioned before, I'm a self proclaimed huge ham and usually jump for joy at the idea of documenting a fun moment for all to see. But even someone like me has had moments of dread. We've all been there. That moment of "Crap! They want to take my picture? I didn't do my hair today!" Or "They better let me see that before it's posted all over the Internet!" For me this was heightened in my first trimester of my pregnancy. I went from someone who loved having my picture taken to someone who was constantly worried that the "cat was going to be out of the bag" about my changing body and guess I was pregnant. Throughout pregnancy you are constantly aware of your changing body. It's hard to find the line between documenting your growing belly and still feeling amazing about the fact that you are inevitably going to gain weight. There was a point when I was about 20 weeks, where I really started to fall in love with having a bump. I mean, what was happening in my body was unreal. Also, my husband started to love my body in a whole new way. It was a really magical time. And then someone would say something on social media that would send me into a full on panic mode. It would be innocent enough. Usually someone who was excited for me but didn't realize that the phrase "You're huge! I'm so thrilled for you!" Is actually not a compliment to a women who is gaining a (healthy) pound a week. Because as much as I knew it was healthy and as much as I loved my bump and being pregnant, I still cared what society would say if I gained weight. Which is really ridiculous considering I was growing a human being inside me! I called my dear friend Sarah Jenks one day in tears. Our conversation altered the rest of my pregnancy and my mindset forever. I remember saying to her "Sarah, I am loving this new changing body so much until someone says something weird to me. I feel so vulnerable. " Her response was genuine and kind, but at the same time, blunt and exactly what I needed to hear.
"Melanie, how many wonderful and loving comments are you getting in comparison to the ones that make you question yourself? It seems like you are only focusing on the negative. "
Whoa... Total epiphany. She was right! There were tons of positive comments that I wasn't even thinking about! Why is it that I wasn't taking in the positive in as much as the negative?
Sarah then went on to say this:
"Mel, you and I both know you look amazing. I want you to really ask yourself... WHY do you care so much?"
Shocker! AGAIN she was right. Why did I care?
So after I hung up the phone with Sarah, I really took the time to have a conversation with myself. I decided to get rid of the negativity. To take this time and EMBRACE what was happening to my body and enjoy it from every ounce of my being. Including gaining weight. Including clothes fitting differently. Including it all. Now that I've had Zoe and my body has gone through several changes since then (and I'm sure will go through several more) it all seems to matter a lot less to me. But in that moment it was all consuming. We've all been there right?
As I see my clients and friends go through similar times in their life, such as new pregnancies, new babies, new relationships etc. I feel compelled to start sharing these insecurities. I am hoping to send a message to everyone who is feeling self conscious when a photo is being taken of them. Not just for women with huge body changes such as massive weight loss or pregnancy, but anyone who has been treating themselves unkindly. Chances are, you are your worst critic. So this week I'm sharing some of my favorite pictures of my pregnancy that I haven't shared before. After my conversation with Sarah, I started to take a lot of pregnancy photos of myself. I wanted this time to be documented. Especially since my hubby and I were going on so many incredible trips before Zoe came. It only seemed right to take photos of it all. So these are all photos taken by my husband on our road trips before the babe. See, this baby was being photographed even before she was born ... maybe that's why she already loves the camera!
The above photos were taken in Palm Springs on our long drive home. I remember being self concious that day, but deciding to take photos anyway. I'm so glad I did because now I look back and see such a gorgeous, glowing version of myself. Also, the nature is pretty unreal as well. So glad I'll have these photos for Zoe to see.
These photos are from an amazing day in Sonoma. It was seriously one of my favorite days I can remember. We knew this time of our life was coming to a close but we were so ready for the next phase. It was a time filled with anticipation and contentment all at once. I feel like you can see that in these pictures.
You'll also notice I wasn't smiling in every picture. That is VERY rare for me. I am much more comfortable goofing off or working a few poses. That's also why sharing these photos is such a big deal for me. Sometimes it's ok to just BE. Those are the most interesting and truly authentic photos you can have.
So now that I have shared something pretty personal, it's time to take action yourself. There are two ways you can start changing the mindset of negativity surrounding our bodies right now.
1) Share a photo of yourself that you love on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other way you like to connect. By sharing it in a public way you are not only telling the world "I love myself and I'm not ashamed to say it." But you are also helping another person regain some confidence to do that for herself as well. When you post the photo hashtag #feelingconfidentwithmelanie so I can see! And speaking of sharing our confidence with the world, that brings me to the next part of this photo challenge.
2) When you see a photo of someone you like COMPLIMENT THEM. Nothing makes someone feel better than a "You look amazing!" sort of comment. Yea yea yea, "likes" are great too. But not as fantastic as a thoughtful, truthful and genuine comment.
It seems like a simple task, but it is definitely putting yourself out there. So I'm really proud of you! I'd love for us to really start a conversation and support one another through this challenge. We all have insecurities but I'd like to think that if there is enough love and support we can start to help each other to let go of them. Even if it's just a little. I genuinely can't wait to hear from you in the comments section below this post. By the way, you look GORGEOUS today. ;)