As many of you have seen I had the incredible opportunity of recently spending a Saturday with beautiful women. Women who are creative, strong, kind and generous. Who are smart and funny and who love passionately and laugh passionately. Women who lift others up and encourage them. Women who speak about their sadness. Women who walk tall and know who they are.
It was pure magic.
The following week through my exhaustion and struggles with the website and launching the new collection, I remembered all the amazing women who walk beside me. And the thought of me, reminded me of my strength, we’re frustrated alongside me as I struggled and they spoke kindness in my sadness. I have incredible women in my life who have truly shown me how to be an incredible woman.
And then, like rays of sunshine on a cloudy day, the amazing photographers from that special day began to send me the images they captured.
I. Was. Speechless.
You guys I mean really, me totally stunned and speechless, I know it’s hard to imagine but I was. There is no words to describe.
Each photographer captured the beauty and heart of the women who were in front of the lens. Each picture captures something unique about its subject and they are incredible. It’s all I can do to not share each image all at once, they must be shared, that kind of beauty cannot be contained.
But, there are a few that when I opened the image files all I saw was flaws. I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the image or of the person in it, because all I saw was something I struggle to not hate. Something that stays with me and makes me self conscious. The thing that almost made me not go into any of the photos at all...
Now, you may not see it right away, because the photo is actually full of so much beauty it’s hard to notice unless your looking. I however noticed my skin right away and quickly closed the image thinking “shoot, I ruined such a great picture of everyone.” I decided not to download the photo and choose instead to download this.
See the shoulder in the bottom right, that’s me. “I’m still in this photo. It just looks better.” I told myself in an attempt to make it okay.
I even contemplated doing this...
I know that it goes against everything I stand for and how I try to encourage others, but when faced with my red, patchy skin in a photo with these stunning women, I actually hated the way I look so much that I wanted to change it. Blur it away, correct the colouring and cover over the spots masking it with clones from the tiny piece of “good skin” up at my shoulder. (I didn’t actually edit the image until this morning when writing this, just so you could see)
I slipped easily back into the mindset that my outsides need to show perfection in order to be considered beautiful by someone else. That I needed to only show what is perfect, to all of you. And that I shouldn’t wear that jumpsuit until my skin gets better again. And then I ignored the photo, moved onto the others and ignored the voice that was left, still speaking hatred, in the back of my mind.
But then something happened. I had forgotten that all of the photos were also given to the other vendors. So, this morning I woke up to this and felt sick to my stomach.
The thoughts began to spiral in my head of what you could be thinking of me. Of what’s you see and how terrible I look. Of how I wished I hadn’t gotten into the photo, or worn something else, or covered my arms, or maybe I could have hidden behind Tracy.
But then I took my dear friend’s advice and I told that voice in my head to “Shut Up!” That voice is the worst. It only sees the flaws, it only looks on the outside and it’s constantly judging me against an unattainable measure.
So yes, clearly I don’t have this all figured out, but none of us do. I am going to keep working on it though. And I wanted to share, first the photo and second, the steps that helped me stop the spiralling self doubt and hatred.
1) Name your Feelings. Most of us are not in touch with our actual feelings. We are all so used to stuffing down our feelings or hiding them so we don’t seem “too emotional” that we can struggle to know what it is we are feeling but it’s very important.
2) Recognize what is causing the spiral. Be it an internal or external factor, the spiral starts somewhere, finding where it started is an important step to stop it.
3) Speak truth to yourself. No, you are not worthless. No this doesn’t define you. You are actually ________. Write them down, speak them out loud, whatever you need to do to shift your mindset from the self doubt, negative self talk spiral.
4) Do something about the cause of the spiral. Take a step back from a bad situation, put up boundaries so it doesn’t happen again. Address your own issues, past, or hurts that are still effecting you.
I know that I am not the only one that has these experiences, we all have different triggers to our self doubt spirals and our negative self talk. It is easy to believe that jerk of a voice in our heads, she can be a mix of voices from the past or present, from hurts and traumas, they are the things that changed the lens we see our lives and ourselves through. We get left with “Pam” as my good friend calls her, the jerk in our heads who sprews negativity in her shrill little voice. But you can silence “Pam” her voice can become more quiet and easy to ignore and instead can be replaced with truth and love, it just takes hard work. But I’m in it with you friend.