**The lovely Miss Jaime is a fellow photographer based out of Richmond, Virginia. She’s one of my favorite people to follow. Her actions are always filled with love and her statuses are clever and original. Make sure you check out her photography here. One of the other things I adore about this gal is her openness about her journey with self-acceptance. I know that you all will fall in love with her too!**
Transformation (n): the operation of changing one configuration or expression into another
I love the word transformation.
There is just something about it that brings so much hope and encouragement. I have had the chance to watch this in action, like watching the transformation of winter into spring, or the transformation of a young girl into grown woman, when a woman comes to me for a session and seeing that transformation as they glam it up before my lens, but the one closest to me is my own transformation from hidden to exposed. Watching the other transformations were and are really enjoyable, it’s my own that has been some of the most rewarding, terrifying, and awesome experiences of my life.
By all definition and appearances I was created to stand out, I am tall, I have this unique voice, I’m an artist, and I’m also plus size… or fat.. or chubby.. or fluffy J . Since I have been in elementary school I have tried, in every way possible, to stay hidden. I hated being the only one in my classes who was like me; I despised being able to be recognized because I opened my mouth to speak; which was actually not that often. When I hit puberty my differences were really becoming that much more apparent, probably not to everyone else, but certainly to me. I knew I developed early, I knew that my voice was getting deeper, and that my frame was more womanly than my peers. I was also the smart kid who wore glasses, and at one point braces, there really was no way I was going to be able to hide again. I also, for some reason, was on a local TV program for most of my adolescence so hiding was impossible. I sure did give it my best effort, until my senior year in high school and most of my time in college. I managed to adopt a “deal with it” sort of attitude and tried to live as confidently as I could, those years were awesome and then I turned 22.
I am not sure what it was about 22, I just remember that is when I started to forget. I started to forget about all the things that made me unique. I forgot those things that endeared me to my friends and family, and began to hate every single thing about myself. On the outside and to others I was doing great, I had started taking control of my life and my weight; I was working an adult job and working with kids whenever I had the chance. I was also traveling and speaking to groups here and there, but regardless of all of that the tape that played in my head told me, daily that I was worthless and needed to hide again. This actually got worse as I got older and by the time I was 31 my entire spirit was broken and I could not keep up the façade of confidence any longer.
Age 31, that was the year when I started to become aware of what was happening and it crushed me. You see, in an effort to regain some sort of confidence and esteem I started getting myself involved in friendships with men that actually were pretty toxic, one in particular was down right emotionally abusive and it took me 3 years to really realize what was happening. From the ages of 28-31 I was beaten down and my identity robbed all in an effort to get a guy to like me. It took the demise of our friendship and a frank conversation with a close friend to open my eyes to the state I was in. When I woke up from that very dark period of my life I was hurt and bitter and it showed. I spent a good portion of that year angry and allowed that to consume me for far longer than it should have. The following year, shortly after I turned 32, I decided I wanted to “build a better me.” The quest started simply, a friend and I decided we were going to move our bodies, we committed to spending 2 days a week with each other being active, no matter what. Surprisingly that commitment stuck and it quickly became the thing I loved to do. Shortly after learning how to move my body J I knew I needed to tackle my insides too, I knew that no matter what I did, if I did not reclaim myself I’d always consider myself worthless and that I needed to remain hidden. Working on my insides was way harder than my time on the stair master during a workout, and I hate the stair master.
Working on my insides, dealing with my thought life, meant that I had to open up and deal with these terrible thoughts and wounds I had managed to Band-Aid over in an effort to cope. There were a lot of dark nights and long conversations with girls I trusted but 18 months later I started to feel more like myself again and realized that I was worthy of being seen and that I deserved good great things in this life. During this time and since I have seen some great changes both physically and mentally and that transformation is still something that Is ongoing in my life as I experience my first love and what it’s like to be succeed in things that I thought were far far off in my life. I’m still a tall gal with a unique voice and a plus-size body, but those things don’t make me less than, and they certainly don’t make me worthless, they just make me, me and that is a lovely thing.