What made you want to be a part of the #ReclaimBeauty project?
This project was, in a way, one of the things I decided to do to kind of put myself back out there after walling myself off for awhile as I tried to get a handle on some of my own personal life struggles. While I would never say I was skinny I was definitely a healthy weight throughout most of my life until I was sick and because of medications I had gained weight. It is unbelievably noticeable how different people treat you so I think it is an important project as everyone seems to have a distorted view of body image.
What was it like to have your photos taken and to spend time talking about such intimate things?
For me the experience was enlightening in the fact that this is not something people talk about. I mean, sure, when you lose weight everyone talks to you about how great you look and some not so nice people will let you know that you are fat. We do not talk about our weight with other women as far as how it makes us feel living in our own skin. I found the entire experience empowering.
How did your family culture growing up impact the way you understood beauty and saw yourself as beautiful?
Growing up with my Dad and my brother they could be blunt and honest about how they felt and my brother particularly could be mean to/about overweight people. I do not really think this had much impact on how I felt or what I thought as I was not overweight and neither were most of my friends. For whatever reason looking back I can not think of a time growing up that I actually felt I was not beautiful. As an adult now I can hear from my dad that I am fat if I am fat and that I am skinny if I am skinny. I think I almost prefer the blatant honesty of their opinions than anyone pretending my being obese was OK and not bad for my health.
You talked about having a partner who loved you for who you were and who made you feel beautiful. How did that change your image of yourself?
When you have a partner who loves you and has a way of making you feel like you are the most beautiful person in the world to them without necessarily saying it, as shallow as it sounds, it can give you a huge boost to your self confidence. For me if I let someone get that close I will value their opinion. Therefore they can influence how you feel about yourself. If you do not believe me do this for your own partner. This is what we should be doing for all our loved ones. It helps build up even the most confident people.
How do you celebrate and nurture your beauty every day?
By loving myself just as I am. I am comfortable in my own skin. I just try to accept all the changes and aging as they come.