A few weeks ago, I put out a call for women to send me photos of what may be perceived by some to be their “imperfections.”
I wanted to include them in an article as a radically beautiful act of self-love.
This wasn’t about sending photos of unhealthiness disguised as acceptance. I wanted stretch marks, scars, under-eye circles—the stuff we can’t escape from, the parts of us that are now and will always make our bodies like well-worn pages of wisdom. Not in an “I have these marks, yet I still accept myself” kind of way, but “I have these marks, and holy shit are they beautiful, because I am beautiful, undone.”
Here are my favourite submissions—most with captions the women wrote themselves.
“Here it is. My tiger stripes, my warrior marks, my badge of honor cause I’m honored to be a woman. I’m happy to be in a place in my life where I’m no longer ashamed of my body.
I asked my partner to take this photo for me, and I explained what it’s for. He said, “On one condition.” Instantly, I thought, okay this is it, this is where he’s going to show me he doesn’t get it. And then he said, “that I can kiss each beautiful tiger stripe so you know that I don’t see them as flaws. All I see is your beauty and strength.”
Yea, he gets it. So his feet are making a cameo.”
From Letha Marie:
“This is me, straight out of bed, messy hair, swollen eyes, pale skin, and dark circles. Untamed and unkempt, yet this is me, nonetheless.”
“In middle school—and all throughout high school, I’d wake up early and spend almost two hours putting on makeup and straightening my hair.
After graduating college and getting a job, I scheduled an appointment to visit a plastic surgeon to remove the bump on my nose. It was a procedure that I had been contemplating for years. I was about to go through with the surgery, but randomly changed my mind—and I am glad I did.
It took 23 years for me to finally start feeling comfortable in my own skin and learning to speak kindly to myself.
Having four younger sisters, I want to teach them to feel comfortable in their own skin.”
From Sally (Part 1):
“A scar I got a few years ago that I slowly have grown to embrace.”
From Sally (Part 2):
“Just for the hell of it.”
“Here I am, with scars that are tiny and big and different from years of surgeries and pokes and prods. Here I am, with bruises because I stumble and trip constantly because of how my body was made. Here I am, with oddly shaped knees and protruding screws, plates, and lumps.
Here I am, with thighs that have not been shaved and have become soft and dry from moving my home to another country, and adjusting and awakening to life. Here I am knowing that these same thighs will slowly firm again through gentle yoga and walking, but will never be toned by jumps and weight machines that leave them aching, and that this cycle will continue for the remainder of my flowing life.
Here I am. Smiling. Accepting. Awake. Consciously loving my body for the first time in my life.”
“Beauty has never been familiar to me. Only recently have I accepted my skin for what it is and have embraced my inner glow.”
“My perfectly imperfect, A to B sticks.”
And sometimes, you need words, too…
is not a battleground.
with its peaks
for what are you,
if not love
encased in flesh?
Author: Annabelle Blythe
Image: Used with permission from participants; Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron