@THISISMESERIES: A New Project Celebrating Self-Love & Real Women

@THISISMESERIES: A New Project Celebrating Self-Love & Real (Unretouched) Women

Photographer Julie Adams and I recently launched a project called THIS IS ME. What’s it all about? It’s about self-acceptance. It’s about perspective. It’s about celebrating being a woman. It's about reminding ourselves that everybody is born with imperfections...

We all develop wrinkles and stretch marks. It’s natural and it’s normal. What’s unnatural is how much we have come to conceal our flaws with editing programs. We rarely retouch our images on The Grace Tales. I prefer not to do it unless it’s requested – and in this case, it’s the bare minimum. The more retouched, the harder I find it to relate to the story. The harder I find it to connect. Because if I’m sure of one thing, it’s that no one is perfect.

Julie asked women and children to come into her studio and be photographed in their swimsuits. No retouching. Just raw imagery. It was confronting, it was liberating, it was raw and it was real...

It made women confront their body issues. It made them be brave. We’ll be sharing the portraits and the personal stories behind each image with you on @thisismeseries. It’s a positive space with a simple message: THIS IS ME. It’s about opening up a conversation about what real bodies look like and learning to accept yourself – perceived flaws and all. It’s not easy – as much as we know it’s silly to worry about mum tums, bumpy thighs, stretch marks and the rest, we still do it. Guilty? I am. The whole project has made me reflect on how I feel about my body. I like bits of me – my tummy seems to have survived carrying two babies well. I like my big green eyes. But there’s plenty I don’t particularly like. I’m just good at hiding the parts I don’t like. We’re all very good at hiding our perceived flaws. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I went through a stage in my life that if I’m honest, wasn’t healthy. It was obsessive. I exercised obsessively. I watched what I ate obsessively. It had to be healthy – all the time. I ended up breaking up with my equally body conscious boyfriend (he used to complain he felt fat after he ate a piece of cake – no wonder we broke up) and heading to Europe with a girlfriend. She’s one of my oldest, dearest friends. We laughed and ate our way around Europe and I stopped worrying so much about low-fat foods or a daily run. I just got over it. I made peace with myself. I stopped thinking about what I should and shouldn’t be eating and just listened to what my body felt like. That trip was the turning point for me – the obsessiveness disappeared and has never returned. Now, I eat what I like, when I like. I love healthy food but I also love sweets. I eat chocolate most days. I exercise because it clears my mind, not because I’m trying to change my body. Exercise makes me feel happy and driven. Most of it, it balances my anxiety.

While I can’t say I’m entirely at peace with my body (we’re always our worst critic), having children has given me a feeling of contentedness that I’ve never experienced...

When I was pregnant, despite all the changes I was going through (weight gain was just the beginning), I felt this overwhelming sense of proudness. I was carrying a child. A little life was about to begin and it was inside my growing belly. When I unexpectedly birthed my daughter six weeks early, I somehow felt my body had let me down – the proudness disappeared. Why couldn’t I carry to term? I felt let down. These thoughts were fleeting – as she grew, that proudness returned. My body gave us two daughters – it still gives me goosebumps. As a mother, there’s also the plain fact that you don’t have an awful lot of time to ponder how you’re feeling about your body. There’s no time! And your kids couldn’t care less what size you are. I saw a post on Instagram the other day written by a girl I used to know in Dubai (@themothershipdxb). She posted a picture of herself in her cossie with her kids. The caption read: “Truth bomb: your kids don’t care about your cellulite, they just want to have fun. Get in the damn photo this weekend.” Bravo. So well said. Your kids couldn’t give a shit. We all need to work on self-love – not just for ourselves but for our children. Negative self-talk is easy. Turning it into self-love is the hard part. It takes training your mind. I go through stages where I feel good about myself but on a whole, I’m great at pointing out all my flaws and find it near impossible to accept a compliment. I’m so shy of compliments! Is that insecurity? Maybe. I know every woman has days where she feels down (social media always heightens this). As my mum always says, you can’t be happy all the time. She’s good at pulling me into line when I’m complaining about my body. I can hear her now: “life’s too short, get over it”. She’s got an amazing perspective on life. She’s also right (as usual). Life is too short. It really is. And I’ve got two girls to raise and I want them to grow into happy, healthy women who love food as much as I do and themselves even more. Follow @thisismeseries | Imagery: Julie Adams