One of the things infertility and all of the associated fallout did was challenge my relationship to my body. Everything was related to my body not working, my body changing in unpleasant ways because of medication and hormonal manipulation and just plain stress. My relationship with my body has been somewhat turbulent throughout the years. I used to have a silly fondness for my belly, because no matter how slender the rest of me was (even when running track and cross country), I had this little round, rolly belly. This is the picture I had on my dorm room door in college:
|Photo by Anne Geddes, "The Discovery"
It was strangely appropriate. It reminded me that I loved my belly (named Marge) and she was fun. I had minimal shame.
But then, increasingly, I was told my belly was fat. I was called a "bigger girl" by my ex-husband's family and worse names by my ex-husband. I was told by family members I was too big to wear a bikini, when at the time I weighed quite a bit less than I do now.
When I met Bryce, it was revolutionary to me that he loved my curves. He found them sexy. Nothing about them said "lose weight" or "watch it" or "fatass" to him, quite the opposite.
And then, when I wanted a big round belly with a baby in it more than anything, I couldn't make that happen. And the drugs I pumped myself full of made all of me puffier. I gained weight. I felt unattractive. I felt deficient. And it continued as my body rebelled against me, first with infertility and then all the ripple effects leading to my hysterectomy.
I am at my heaviest now, and I try so hard to be at peace because it is partly a product of my genetics, partly a product of my PCOS, partly a product of my age, and partly because I love good food. I work out, I'm strong, I'm flexible, but I'm also muscly under a layer of cultured butter and cheese.
Which leads to the project I embarked on for our anniversary, that became a Christmas present for Bryce and ultimately a gift for myself.
I set up a boudoir shoot.
It seems so self-indulgent to take sexy pictures of yourself. I'd wanted to do it but felt...not enough for so long. "I'll do it later," I thought. "I can't justify the cost," I thought. And then, this fall, I was like...WHAT AM I WAITING FOR? I decided to go for it. And I am so, so glad that I did.
I showed up for the shoot wearing sweatpants, a tank top, and a light sweatshirt. I brought a bag full of all the lingerie goodies that I'd bought for the shoot, secretly spiriting them away into hiding places until I could bring them out. I brought Bryce's sweatshirt, which is for a Dungeons & Dragons podcast, which turned out to be the best thing ever. And after they looked at all my stuff and chose the best outfits, and I was made up all glamorously and had my hair all beachy-wave curled, we got to business.
There was a white flokati rug, a gorgeous emerald wall, and an at-the-time ridiculous inflatable bed. I slid right off that thing more than once. The photographer, Natalie, was AMAZING. She posed me just right, artfully draping and angling and getting me to make smoky, smoldering looks at the camera. She showed me photos on the camera as we went, and I was pretty well shocked with what I saw. It was such a confidence boost. By the end I felt like a freaking supermodel. I felt like my curves were assets. I felt more comfortable with my body than I ever have in recent times. It was insanely empowering.
And then, I got the pictures... HOLY CANNOLI. I love them, Bryce loves them, and now we have this strange time capsule of me at 45. Natalie kept saying, "my goal is to help you see yourself the way Bryce sees you. THIS is how he sees you all the time." Bryce confirmed that when he saw the photos. :) I also love that her philosophy is "You are already enough exactly as you are today." That you don't need to wait until you've lost weight, you don't need to think you're too old, or too chubby, or too anything. Just do it. Do it for yourself, do it for your person, but mostly...do it for yourself.
Here are a few of the photos:
|Love the movement
|I felt so "old Hollywood" here!
|Thank you, Pilates, for making this pose even remotely comfortable