"When I was younger, all I ever heard my mother say about herself were negative things. So I guess I just grew up seeing only the bad parts of myself."
"I used to want to sand off my freckles."
"My dad told me I was built like a cow.... when I plucked my eyebrows for the first time he told me I looked like a whore."
"I don't want to be believe the lie that I am responsible for men's lust or moral failures."
"My dad used to point out single women and tell me they'd never get married until they got rid of their pooch."
You guys, these quotes are real words told to me by real women about their very real insecurities. I have a knot in my stomach, tears in my eyes. My fists are clenched as I read these stories because no one deserves to be disassembled with such words. No one.
There are so many ways I could go with this and I'll be completely honest with you: I feel overwhelmed with all the options, all the ways I want to tell you you're beautiful. Just the way you are. Yeaaaahhhhhh.
See? Way too many options.
Let's start with the beginning then. My inspiration comes from my mother. The mole she built her wardrobe around. My inspiration comes from the many women in my life who I find completely breathtaking and unique- the women who I beg to photograph over and over because I want to capture the beauty I see; the same women who can't see it for themselves.
My inspiration comes from music- baby, you're a firework. You are perfect to me.
My inspiration comes from the men and women who refuse to give in to media and their perverted idea of real beauty. Indy Ink and her board, Don't Compare Yourself to Celebrities; my husband who accepts me post-baby-body and all.
My inspiration comes from the rebellion welling up in me when I think of the mean words thrown in my face, meant to cut me down. When I think of the way my friends have been cut down. Of the ways women have been diminished and shoved into a box of "beautiful" and "not beautiful".
My inspiration comes from the women who see themselves in the mirror, accept who they are, and rock it for the world to see. The women who ignore the temptation to tear others down in order to build up themselves. The men who strive to honor women by refusing to turn them into objects of self-pleasure.
My inspiration comes from you. You, reading my blog. You may be the former or the latter; I'm writing to you either way. You inspire me to love myself, unconditionally. You inspire me to see my flaws-turned-beauty-marks and thank Jesus for creating within me a deep self-worth; for giving me beauty of the soul, the kind that doesn't fade; for teaching me that life is not about perfection, but the journey leading to eternal perfection.
And, of course, it would only be fitting to include this video to end this blog. There will be more, I promise you. You will meet each brave, beautiful woman who allows herself to be vulnerable and strong in her identity.