How Taking This One Photo Every Morning Helped Me Love My Body

Photo: Brooke Lark
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Self

Most mornings, I walk straight into the bathroom. I lift my shirt, turn sideways, and check the thickness of my silhouette. I frown and stick out tongue. I pull my shirt down hard to hide it all. I wash my face. I try to forget about the cellulite I feel at the side of my thighs.

I don't remember the last time I woke up and smiled at that body. Or the last time I took advice on how to love yourself.

This body has birthed four beautiful babies. This body curls every night 'round the man I love. This body has fueled a hundred rides through fall-leaved forests. That body has laughed out loud, and relaxed into booths with friends and beer on Friday nights.

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Why do I detest my body daily? Why do I protest against this precious skin?

Perhaps culture. Perhaps media. Perhaps a million years of anti-feminist brain stuffs.

I suppose I could write it off to other things, but I think it's smaller than that — it's more personal. It's because I've been before where I want to be. I've felt my own flat belly. I've slid into size three skinny jeans. But now I feel like I'm a "has been" and I beat myself up for losing the me that once was.

I don't tell myself the story of where I've been. I don't bow down in sacred splendor at the journeys I've made. I don't rejoice in the stretch marks and struggles. I see only the lack of my thigh gap — the What I Am Not.

And I'm so tired of doing that to me and my beautiful body.

When I shot this photo today, it was to be the start of my ten-pound weight loss plan. I'm currently 131.1 pounds and started my day with that stuck-out tongue. I hid the saddlebags beneath a flowy tee. I derided myself because I can't seem to make it even one damn day without carbs or sweets.

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Uploading the full-length body photo, I expected to cringe. Instead, I saw moon-shaped curves at the sides of my stomach. A glint of morning sun outlining my tiny breasts. Two freckled moles above a polka-dotted belly button.

And seeing it as an outside observer, suddenly I loved that body. And I pledged to be good to it.

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And I encourage you to do the same. Snap a photo of you. Look at your curves and your crumples and your cottage cheese. Then, let them be. Throw on whatever jeans fit and embrace the day with that body.

That body is so much better than you think.

Love,

39-Year-Old Me

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Brooke Lark is a recovering over-achiever turned minimalist chef and healthy lifestyle simplist. She's a photographer, cookbook writer, and mama, but also writes about relationships.