The Essence of Real Beauty

Dove is currently partnering with Shonda Rhimes to expand the definition of beauty. I decided to tell my story and wanted to share it here.

I lost over 100 lbs. I had a baby at 38. I am a domestic abuse survivor. My definition of beauty has evolved over my 42 years of life, just as I have. As a child, teenager and young adult, I bought into the “American media” standard of beauty; perfection.  Although personally, I never felt like I really fit into that category of beautiful. I was always on the heavier side. I continued to struggle with my weight for many years. Many people including my husband would tell me how beautiful I was. Honestly I sometimes questioned how they could think that. I didn’t see what they did. It wasn’t a self esteem issue for me. It was more about feeling like my outer self didn’t portrayed my true inner self. Ultimately I felt like I was a different person inside and by looking at me you couldn’t see who I really was. My weight continued to climb in my late 20s as I was in a four year emotionally abusive relationship. He managed to isolate me from friends and family and convince me that no one else would want me. Beautiful was the complete opposite of what I felt. My father died suddenly in 2003 and that is when I began to heal internally. It would take another 7 years before I could start to heal externally. My weight loss journey began in 2010. With a combination of weight loss surgery, diet, portion control, exercise and emotional support from my husband, family and friends, I have lost over 100 lbs. That was the beginning of my physical transformation but also the transformation of my definition of “beauty”. Losing the weight is great but no one talks about the downside of weight loss. Yes I am healthier. There is no denying that. I still however have the same amount of skin at 190 lbs as I did at 297 lbs. I have breasts that sag. I have extra skin on my stomach. I have the dreaded bat wings. It took me some time, but now I EMBRACE every bit of all of it! I am now a confident 42 year old wife and mother of 4, a 23 year old son, 16 year old twins step daughters and a 4 year old son. I have an imperfect body. I have gray hair. Sometimes I pluck dark hairs from my chin. I have crows feet around my eyes. I have saggy boobs. And I embrace all of it. I wear my imperfections as battle scars and reminders of how far I have come. This is who I am. I am natural. I am the essence of REAL BEAUTY.

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