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You Are Beautiful, and You are Enough

Posted Jan 31 2011 12:00am

This is probably going to be kinda randomy, kinda streamy, and kinda touchy-feely. Don't worry. I'll be back to normal - maybe - next week or so.

Karen Walrond is one of the most amazing women I've ever known.

Her photography captures the very essence of people - mostly women - she sees into their soul and what she sees comes out in the picture unlike any photographer I've ever seen. I first saw her at a Blogher conference, but never had the courage to talk to her. To me, she was one of THEM - the elite, the upper level of blogging, the celebrity that everyone loved and no one could touch.

It wasn't HER. She never did one thing to enforce that thought - it was me. I felt as if I could not touch her. She's someone who in genuinely beautiful inside and out - I've never heard one single thing negative EVER about her - and that speaks volumes.

But part of the weight loss travel for me - and travel isn't really the correct work, for it's more a journey, some days a trudge and some days an uphill sprint - is bridging that inner fat chick. The one who hides from the camera, the one who sits in the background, the one who is really funny but you never notice her. Damnit - I want to be noticed.

And that's not always a good thing, now, is it?

I spent years avoiding the camera. I wonder, if I died, would my kids have any photos to show their kids, to share how I was in their lives?

I saw Karen's book, The Beauty of Different , everywhere after it was published. From the Amazon page:

Constantly bombarded with messages on how to think, how to feel, how to look, it can be very easy to fall into the mindset that we somehow fail as individuals, that we are not enough. But the truth is, those aspects of ourselves that make us individuals are actually the source of our own beauty, our super power.

Different isn't always seen as beautiful. But we are all beautiful, each in our own way.

I hate my face. It's too full. My cheeks make mounds when I smile. One side of my face is longer than the other, and I have a weird birthmark kind of thing above my right eye. My eyes are really deep set and my upper lids are heavy, so I have extra skin. No matter how I elongate the eyeliner, when I open my eyes, it disappears. I am definitely my own worst critic. I don't think of it as being critical - just honest and truthful.

I saw Karen sitting at a party, enjoying a glass of wine with friends. I've so admired her from afar for so long, and as this is the year of losing that inner fat chick who hung around LONG after I worked off the OUTER fat chick - I approached her with my good friend - and amazing photgrapher - Heather. We introduced ourselves and I complimented her, and then it happened. I heard it happening, knew it was coming out, but I was powerless to stop it. The words tumbled from my mouth almost in slow motion, and I was horrifed to hear myself say, "Having my picture taken by you is on my Bucket List. I would love to have you take my picture."

I know. WHO asks Karen to take their picture? It'd kind of be like asking George Duran to cook their breakfast (don't get me wrong, I'd totally love that - he's easy on the eyes, and btw - I MET him at Blissdom AND had my picture taken with him, and ALL OF THE PICS were too blurry!!!!) It'd be like asking Ty Pennington, who you just happened to run into at the store, to build you a house. Or Carson Kressley to dress you.

You get what I'm saying, I think.

Yes, I did. I asked her to take my picture, and then I closed my eyes. In my head I saw it happening. The tight smile, the head tilt, the thanks so much for asking, but I'm really busy, my walk away of shame and the titters I was certain to hear behind me. Who was *I* to ask *her* to take my picture? In that two seconds, I felt like throwing up. My stomach clenched and my belly dropped and my heart raced. Just who did I think I was? I mentally prepped for the humiliation.

She said yes. Warmly, with a smile and a squeeze to my arm and Heather and I left the bar in a hurry - both of us certain that the next day she'd be unavailable. But the next day came, and we saw her signing her book, and she told us to meet her across the hall, by the window, in a few minutes. "You don't have to take my picture," I said, wanting to give her an out. I felt terrible that I'd basically strong armed her into photographing me. "Don't have to? I want to," she said with one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen. And so we went and sat, and I kind of wondered if she'd come over and if she meant it.

And she did. And she was beautiful. Not only on the outside - hello, have you seen her?? - but on the inside as well. Warm, witty, with a small dose of snark and a great dash of empathy - I relaxed and she took this shot.

DSC_3224edited

And she took one of Heather and I asked if she could take one of both of us. I bring my camera to every conference faithfully and somehow manage to come home with less than 5 pictures. I wanted one to remember both of us - we truly had so much fun together and I feel that I've found a new kindred spirit.

DSC_3289edited

 I've seen on Facebook that there is a movement to Tell Her She's Beautiful tomorrow, Feb 1.

It all began with a conversation with my friend. To say the least, the topic soon became that of body image. She was telling me how unattractive she felt, although it couldn’t be further from the truth. Then she told me the lengths she was going to go through to conform to the beauty the media portrays. Being a concerned friend, I tried to cheer her up and change her mind, nothing seemed to work. Then an idea struck me. I asked her, “what if I could prove that you are beautiful?” she replied, “how?” and I told her, “I bet I could get the whole world to tell you that you’re beautiful.” And so I went to work, and I created this event as a dedication to all of my friends that has had body image issues, and specifically for that one friend, so for a few days, everyone that passed by her would call her beautiful. And they did.

I'm going to continue this post tomorrow, for at almost 1,200 words I wonder if you are still here.

Will you take part? Tell Her She's Beautiful.  Anyone. Just do it. I almost felt it after Karen took my picture.

She's magic. And She's Beautiful.

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