If you’re like me, every time you see a photo of/post by Jen Sinkler, you want to drop whatever you are doing and go hang out with her (or at least near her). The other day, I was scrolling through her blog and came across a piece featuring her latest “before” pictures as she embarked on getting swole AF with the Bigness Project.
Jen’s piece is about breaking the toxic tradition of the unhappy before picture – no slouched pose and disappointed frown. I always like seeing people celebrate their bodies, but I was really drawn in by a discussion in the comments, in which one fan expressed her desire to see someone without a “perfect” body posting happy before pictures.
Another reader responded that the commenter had missed the point, but I have to say that I hear her. I’m not trying to suggest that having a certain body type prevents women from internalizing the pervasive message that our bodies are not ok the way they are. But we have all been conditioned to seek approval from others, we’re all living in the comparison trap, so I get that when someone who fits the standards of beauty declares that they are embracing their beauty, those of us who have been labeled as outside those norms feel left out.
I strive to be a woman of action, and everyone I admire in the worlds of writing and art and fitness encourages us to create the content that we want to consume, so I asked myself how I could be a part of making those happy before photos. And I was happy to find that I have been for awhile now. While I’m not always thrilled with what I look like, I’ve come a long way from not being able to stand the sight of myself. Instead of destroying photos of myself and hiding from cameras, like I once did, I have a camera roll filled with selfies, an Instagram that documents my fab life, and a semi-consistent folder of progress photos. I keep those simple with four snaps in each set: front, side, back, and Betty.
I don’t know the official name of that pose, but Betty just seems to fit. It’s a recent addition to my progress photos, but a beloved one. Boyfriend was the one who first appreciated its greatness – it was my standard “how does this look?” pose and it never failed to amuse us both. And more than making me smile, its presence in my progress photos is a reminder that I have fun and joy in my life, as I am.
There are so many badass women defying norms and setting bold examples by celebrating their bodies – Erin Brown, Amber Mikaelsson, Jessamyn Stanley, and Megan Crabbe are some of my daily inspirations and #squadgoals – so I know I’m not revolutionary in acknowledging the worthiness of my body as is. But it feels revolutionary, to me, because I didn’t show up for myself like this when I was younger. I wasn’t enough for myself then.
Deciding that I am enough, as is, doesn’t mean that I think I am perfect. I have things I want to get better at, strength I want to build, fat I want to lose. But celebrating the life and body I have changes the stakes of those goals. I am not waiting to look a certain way in order to feel good about myself; I feel good about myself right now. I don’t want to look like Jen Sinkler to make myself happy; I want to follow her example and embrace my bigness and happiness, just as I am.
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