I felt trapped in a larger body that was a constant reminder of the emptiness that surrounded me.
Ever since I was a kid, I've struggled with my body image. The size of my jeans used to determine my self-esteem. The shape of my body represented my deepest insecurities. A taut tummy signified my need for approval, while a muffin top indicated I'd been drowning my sorrows with food.
For years, my fluctuating weight determined my self-worth. Hypocritically, I'd tout a different message. "Beauty is not defined by a dress size," I'd say, exalting the splendor of women in all shapes and sizes. I'm a beauty blogger and yet somehow, I was unable to see beauty in myself.
And then I lost her.
Before I had a miscarriage, I gleefully packed on 30 pounds, feeling plump and beautiful. My extraordinary weight gain became a thing of humor. I called myself the clumsy walrus on a daily basis.
For the first time in my life, the weight gain represented something wonderful. My wobbly bits and jiggly parts were bursting with mommy-to-be pride. Yes, I had the prized pregnancy glow.
And yet, the day after I lost Mia, my newly round body symbolized loss. I felt trapped in a larger body that was a constant reminder of the emptiness that surrounded me.
What was once 30 pounds of pregnancy happiness was now a daily memento of grief.
During the months that followed, I looked at myself as I never had before. I could not hate my chubby belly or curvy hips because they represented the precious little girl that I had carried for five months. I had a choice to make; force my body back into shape or forgo my pride and allow myself to heal.
I chose the latter. A year later, I am still a little chubby. But for the first time in my life, I feel truly beautiful.
My loveliness is now reinforced by the fact that I survived my daughter's passing with as much grace as I could muster. I allowed myself to feel loved and sensual with my partner Mike, and didn't let my newly voluptuous body alter my confidence or disrupt our need for closeness. My priority was learning to endure the grief without letting it shatter my spirit.
My courage, my heart and my partner took precedence over the girth of my waist.
It was only once I finally established who I was on the inside that I finally felt lovely, regardless of my shape. I found out that I am strong, resilient, capable and able to move forward past a tragedy that could have dismantled me.
My daughter Mia was a gift. She was the miracle that revealed to me what it truly means to have an inner grace that radiates to the people around you. She made me become a woman ... a beautiful woman.