Over the last two years as a photographer, I have worked with many beautiful young women of different sizes and shapes. There is a common theme amongst these women of insecurity and low self esteem about their body. These women have so much potential ready to shine through, but there is such an emphasis on appearance in our society today that other non-appearance related qualities are overlooked and underappreciated. They cannot see past their “flaws”, to see the beauty that they hold within.
Most of our insecurities arise from the mainstream image of beauty highlighted and praised on social media. This image is reinforced by influencers and bloggers showing the most glamorous parts of their lives and sporting svelte, toned figures that may or not be photoshopped or facetuned to cinch their waist or smooth their skin. It is easy to get sucked into thinking this is the ultimate lifestyle and goal to achieve. It is easy to think we should look like the underwear models we see on Victoria’s Secret. It is easy to look at our own bodies and think, “I am not worthy because I don’t look like that.” We are more than that though.
Our lives mean more than just how we look on the outside. What matters more is our well-being, our happiness, our values and our achievements. Putting on weight because you are enjoying your life rather than micromanaging your diet and worrying about how you look is an achievement in itself. It means you have more important things in your life to prioritise! Weight gains, cellulite and stretchmarks do not make you less worthy. These are all normal parts of growing up.
As I turn 23, I reflect on the things I have learnt. I have learnt that my rolls do not define me. I have learnt that my cellulite does not make me less beautiful. I have learnt that feeling insecure about how I look in a swimsuit does nothing but detract from my love for the sun and the water. Instead, I have learnt to focus on the parts of me that do not include my appearance. I have learnt that I am caring. I have learnt that I am thoughtful. Most importantly, I have learnt that I have a talent for capturing the beauty of other women and proving to them that they are worthy.
Throughout this post you will see both completely unedited images that are currently in my deleted folder. These are photos that would usually just go unseen. Then, you will see the photos I chose to keep and add a Lightroom Preset to. I didn’t alter the edited images, however I want you to notice how even a different pose and a filter has a major effect on how an image looks.
Let us stop focusing on how we look from the outside, and start to nurture what is on the inside.