Growing up in sunny South Florida, I had the seemingly perfect life - on the outside, anyway. I was the typical blonde, all American girl who had lots of friends, and a loving family. On the inside, it was a different story. Even though my circle of friends knew me as this bubbly, happy-go-lucky girl - deep down, I felt like I was the fat friend who had to use humour to make up for my looks. 

It didn't get any easier in highschool. My body began to change even more. I’ll never forget the first time I became very self-aware of my changing body. My mom innocently made a comment that I was looking a little chunky. I was a happy-go-lucky kid until I suddenly realised my body wasn’t perfect. I don’t blame my mom for telling me I was gaining weight - if I didn’t hear it from her, I knew it would have come from someone else. My relationship with food and my body quickly changed soon after, and I would wake up every day determined to start a new diet. Anything to lose weight fast. Yet, every night I would go to bed feeling like a failure. 

When I was 16 years old, I started a new medication that made me lose a lot of weight. It was like I had found my holy grail. Not only was I able to lose weight drastically, but suddenly boys were starting to notice me. My self-worth was dependant on being thin so I could maintain this perfect image that I'd been chasing for so long. While I loved the new attention and compliments I was getting about my slim figure, I was abusing my 'holy grail' medication to the point of a serious eating disorder. It was like adding fuel to a fire. The more pills I took, the sicker I became. 

Of course, using medication to control weight is never the answer, and it had created even more body image and addition issues. The 'perfect' life I thought I had finally achieved, soon came crashing around me when I realised everything I had been trying to control was coming undone. Finally, at 25 years old, I decided I needed to have a major change in the way I viewed (and loved) myself. I think I'd reached a point in my life where I was physically and mentally tired of chasing after this unrealistic image of what I thought I should be. I slowly learned how to accept my body shape, and invested into a healthier routine.

Learning to love myself definitely didn't happen overnight. I started by making small changes, such as better self-care, from eating regular healthy food, to going for walks along the beach. I finally loved myself and had the confidence to build healthy and long-lasting relationships. Of course, I still have those moments when I look at myself and wish I could change things, but then I remember how far I’ve come and what I do love about my body. If I could give any young girl advice, it would be to treasure yourself exactly as you are, and be kind to yourself. Do what makes you feel special. 

In my teens and early twenties, I never had the confidence to book a photo shoot - I could barely even look at myself in the mirror! Booking a shoot with Body Love was one of the best decisions I ever made. There wasn’t one image I didn’t like. I’m so grateful to have worked with the talented and lovely Sarah. Sarah is an amazing photographer and is great at making you feel comfortable and directing you for the best shots. She really made it all about me, by celebrating my body and confidence. I had the best time and have these beautiful photos to remember it forever.

This is what the Body Love Project is all about. Photographing authentic women, sharing their journey, and inspiring others. This project aims to celebrate women and their beauty. We are not a number on a scale, a dress size, and our beauty isn't even based on a reflection in the mirror. We are worth far more than this. We are even more powerful when we share the strengths of our bodies, and especially when we raise each other higher.

Thank you so much Kaitlyn for getting involved with the Body Love Project, and for sharing your incredible journey! 

If you would like to be apart of the Body Love Project, please read the project details, and you can even book a session with me - just head over to "Book Your Photoshoot" in my main menu.

Sarah x