A woman's relationship with her body is reflected in how comfortable she is in front of the camera.

A woman's relationship with her body is reflected in how comfortable she is in front of the camera - do you agree or disagree?

I like that I am satisfied when I see my reflection in the mirror or a photo. I know a lot women who hide when the camera lens comes out, which makes me sad. I’m proud of the body I have built and I can also tell you 20 things I dislike about what I see on any given day. (I’m not going to list them here because I don’t want you to focus on them too but trust me, they’re there!)

Every one of us is beautiful and none of us is perfect. I’m moving away from showing as much about my fitness workouts online lately because the real beauty comes from your soul, the inner work. The getting over feeling sad, unheard, unfulfilled, directionless, used, over-giving, exhausted, depleted, depressed, dismissed or rejected. When your real beauty shines through is when you work on the darker parts of yourself that need to be faced and healed. The light that comes from within is what shows up as the glow of confidence to the outside world.

I love how strong and capable i feel in my body and I hate when it gets injured or tired and betrays me. I have arthritis in my knees from years of dance. I have pain in my right shoulder that has been plaguing me for months despite the healing treatments I’ve tried. It pisses me off, but it doesn’t mean I stop giving my body training for strength because it needs it - we all need our bodies to stay functional as we age. Instead of stopping, I modify the exercise. I pick up lighter weight or hold a plank instead of doing a pushup. I never try handstands anymore and I sometimes even skip the downward dogs in favor of all 4’s. I pay attention to what my body needs to be in-balance.

I get asked a lot how I get the photos that I use on social media - who takes them for me, how do I decide where to take them, or how I decide what to film or photograph. I take all of them myself, using my iPhone and a water bottle to prop it up. I either use the phone photo timer or I record video and take a still picture screen shot from it if it worked out well. I play with lighting, shadows, contrast, exposure and sharpness to make the photo as visually interesting as it can be. If I have bed head I’ll jump so my hair is messy-looking anyway. If I don’t have makeup on I’ll turn my face away from the camera because I prefer how I look with a little eye makeup on.

I look at other images online that get my attention and study how they positioned the photo, what kind of background was used, and most importantly, how the photo makes me feel. Am I happy, intrigued or confused? Does it make me want to stop scrolling and read the caption too? Does it inspire me to tap deeper into a part of myself?

What I photograph is almost never planned. I get inspired in the moment by something I see or feel or think will be a message that will either help, motivate or put a smile on the face of someone else that day. Period. If what I post sticks with you for a moment, and makes you want to stretch, move, read, write, pray, meditate, explore or eat well then I have done what I hoped to do by sharing.

So who decides whether an image is inspiring or empowering vs. narcissistic when it’s a self portrait? Is she / he confident when they post a picture showing their bare legs, stomach or bottom or are they conceited? Truthfully, I believe that how you answer that question depends entirely on your relationship with your own body. If you’re not comfortable with your own bare-skinned belly, you might see the image as egoism, because after all, you “would never post a picture like that!”. But isn’t self-admiration what we are all in favor of? Don’t we all agree that having appreciation for our own bodies is a huge part of self-respect and acceptance?

I’ve never been overweight, though my weight has fluctuated as much as 20 pounds in the last 20 years. My somatype (body type) is “ectomorph”, meaning being naturally small, thin and not muscular. I have had to work really hard to build muscle and maintain it, and it takes planning, commitment and serious effort so I am proud of myself for accomplishing it. (There are 3 somatypes which you can look up if you’re interested in understanding your own.)

I started doing that heavy lifting during a hugely transitional and difficult time in my life, when I turned 50. What it reflected to me was just how strong I was on the inside, and it gave me the courage to push through the emotional things I had to confront and process. Leaving my marriage during this time was a really hard thing to do for me because I am also a highly-amiable personality, meaning I will do just about anything to make sure everyone around me is happy, even if I’m not. I had to climb that hurdle and speak up for myself about what I needed and how unhappy I was, even though it left my husband with a lot of hurt feelings. I knew I could do it because I was doing a lot of things I’d never done before that were making me stronger than I had ever been.

So if I post a photo of my face, or my body in a bikini enjoying my life and the unbelievable beauty of a beach somewhere, it’s not for “likes”. It’s because I am overjoyed with what I’ve been given by the Universe and what I’ve worked for and how much I value this vessel of a body I’m living in. I’m comfortable in my skin and with what shows up in the mirror or camera lens, because I see myself as much more than a body. I’m a spirit living in a human body I’m borrowing for a while, and the light I’m feeding myself on the inside every day is what I really see looking back at me.

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