Where does the journey begin?

Last week I had a great conversation with Elaine Tan Comeau, as she interviewed me for her podcast Elaine's Kitchen Table We talked about entrepreneurship, motherhood and the S word (Selfish).

During the interview, Elaine asked me where my body love journey began. It's hard to pin down just one defining moment that sparks a change in you. I think it's usually a series of moments, leading up to a revelation. While I was being interviewed, I thought of the time I heard Taryn Brumfit of the Body Image Movement speak at Leading Moms in 2014. Taryn was a mom like me, and she had gotten to a point of being fed up with the self hatred that our culture inculcates in women. At one point in her talk, she pulled her mom belly our of her jeans and I just fell in love with this woman for being so honest and vulnerable.

 

But looking back, I can see that this moment was just part of a series of ah-has for me. In 2011 I gave a Pecha Kucha talk about an art project I had created where I turned myself into a fairy. Looking back now, I love that I used Photoshop to create images that were empowering to me, because Photoshop is a tool that has been used to make women feel so bad about themselves. Instead of using Photoshop to slim my thighs, I morphed myself into a fantasy world. Instead of trying to make myself look like someone else, I painted myself into my own story, one digital brush stroke at a time. When I started to look at myself as just another component in an art piece, I was able to see myself in a less critical light. Creating this project started me down a path of inquiry about my relationship with my body.

In the spring of 2013 I was in a brutal spiral of postpartum depression that I couldn't see my way out of. I knew I needed help, but I wasn't sure where to reach out to. My baby had just turned one when I booked a weekend away for myself at an art retreat. And during that weekend I cried a lot, and painted, and told a room full of strangers that I was struggling with postpartum depression. And I got hugs and "I've been there", which is the best thing to hear when you are feeling really alone. And I let myself fully break down, which I hadn't done. And I came home from that weekend ready to work on getting better.

So in 2014 when I hear Taryn speak, I was able to truly hear what she said. And I was ready to stop beating myself up. I had climbed my way out of post partum depression and I was done. Done with self harm. Done with judging my worth by my clothing size or cellulite or C-section scars or acne. I was ready to claim all the joy that I could because I was finally capable of feeling it again.

My body love journey is ongoing. There is no end point, no finish line. I still have bad days and even bad weeks. But I have an ever-deepening awareness now of my own patterns, and I will continue to fight back against our culture of body shame. Because as Taryn says: "Your body is not an ornament, it is a vehicle to your dreams." And I have a lot of dreams still to pursue.