I was at an indoor pool and, for once, I had my phone away.
I started to deeply observe all the people around me. I love people watching! I quickly noticed two beautiful women at the pool that day.
The first was a mom in her early-to-mid-30s. She was at the pool with her husband and three small children. She was holding her infant in the pool and smiling lovingly at him. I was mesmerized by her beautiful smile and how much she loved her baby. I could not take my eyes off of her smile. She got out of the pool, and I immediately noticed her frumpy black bathing suit—you know, the kind you get to cover up your body after three children.
In my mind, I imagined she wore it because she felt ashamed of her body. I could sense a shame in her as she got out of the pool and quickly covered herself up with a towel.
It’s a shame I know all too well.
The second woman was in her late 20s. She was there with her boyfriend/husband. She was a real showstopper. As soon as she entered the pool area, everyone looked at her. Perfect—and I f*cking mean perfect body. Come to think of it, she wore a black bathing suit too, but hers was more revealing and definitely not frumpy. She had firm perky breasts, a super flat stomach, not an inch of cellulite on her thighs, and a Brazilian butt. Every man in the room kept their eyes on her. I felt a tinge of jealousy within me because I imagined how great it must be to be her.
Ironically, I could deeply sense that even this woman, in all of her perfection, still didn’t feel perfect.
As I reflected at the pool that day, I realized something so powerful: I believed for many years that the woman with the perfect body was somehow more deserving of love, sensuality, and acceptance. That she had the right to accept herself and the rest of us should be ashamed of ourselves. Through what I can only describe as a pure miracle, I was able to realize for the first time in my life that this belief was coming from a flawed place within me.
All women—no matter their body size—deserve to feel whole, loved, sensual, and feminine.
Accepting yourself as you are is not just reserved for the few women with perfect bodies, but for all of us. In fact, acceptance of your body is the key that creates any type of long-lasting change to your physical, mental, or emotional body. You truly must accept yourself as you are—this is step one!
As I glanced again at the woman of three children who undoubtedly reminded me of myself, I sent love and acceptance her way. I prayed that she would love her body and that she would allow herself to feel beautiful, loved, sensual, and feminine.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, as I prayed for her, I was healing myself.
In that moment and since then, I’ve remembered that time at the pool because I was the woman at the pool with the frumpy black bathing suit covering myself up and feeling ashamed. I can’t even begin to express the freedom of body shame I have felt by changing this perception of myself and the women around me. I see beauty in every woman’s body—not just the ones in magazines.
My husband’s grandfather taught him a valuable lesson: you can find beauty in every woman. Imagine if we were all taught that?
Let’s embrace who we are, right where we are, right now—flaws and all. In fact, ask yourself, what’s the alternative? Self-hate, judgement, shame?
I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to show up in the world. It feels so good to feel so good, right?
And if you’ve read this far. No, this picture is not me. Although, I do look eerily similar.