Body confidence. Oh, God. I don't think I know one person who is completely confident with their body and that is such a shame. I know so many incredibly beautiful people and yet in today's society the battle to feel comfortable in our skin is becoming increasingly difficult. I've struggled with it since I was about 14. Never felt good enough, always thought I was okay looking, nothing particularly special and as I got older and went to university, those feelings intensified. I studied drama. An environment ripe for self doubt and insecurities.
Then I became sick. I have a disease called Ulcerative Colitis which effects your large intestine. I lost a lot of weight, and the funny thing was people kept telling me how great I looked, how I didn't look sick and it fed my belief that I couldn't be pretty if I was bigger. I had to go on medication that caused me to gain weight and I absolutely hated myself. I'd get dressed, none on my clothes fit and I'd sit and cry. I didn't look like myself and I felt disgusting. I'd only gone from a size 8 to a 12 but for someone who didn't feel comfortable in their skin to begin with, it felt terrible.
My weight has fluctuated through out my years of illness. I've had surgery at 21 to have my large intestine removed and I had to have a stoma bag. At first I struggled. I felt as though I was less than a woman. I didn't feel attractive or sexy. But as time went on, I saw my operation for what it was. Life saving. Without it, I wouldn't be here. My operation gave me a new lease of life and when I had the reversal - I don't have a stoma bag any more - I then had to contend with an insane scar that reopened due to infection and so it isn't a nice, neat scar. I'd wear a bikini to try and trick myself into feeling confident, if I didn't care, then no one would. But I did care, I just didn't want people staring at me.
As time has passed, my scars (physical and mental) have become less prominent. I now have a condition that effects my liver, hospital trips and tests have become the norm once more, but ironically it is because of this I am actually a lot more confident within my skin. My body is incredible to have gone, and continue to go through, what it goes through.
I really enjoyed the shoot with Sarah, she has such a lovely way of making you feel comfortable in front of the camera. I think it's so important to share your story, it may just help someone who is struggling with something similar.
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 Stephanie 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.