Brave New Body

I need your help.

I want to inspire others with my success, like the success of others has inspired me. I want to motivate others as I finish this journey, because nothing helped me overcome my fear of success more than knowing I had a crowd cheering me on.

That fear of success held me back for too long. I think I put off diet and exercise because I was afraid. I had reached a point in my weight gain that I knew, instinctively, that my skin was kaput. There were stretch marks, like battle scars, littering my body. I got weird rashes, and my skin was incredibly thin in places.

I was also afraid of love. It was easy to say, “The men around me are too shallow to date a fat girl,” and hate the world for being so closed-minded…but truth be told, I had never had a boyfriend, and I was scared of being loved. Would they love thin me more than they would have loved fat me? Even more than romantic love, I was scared to love myself. I said I loved myself, even fat, the truth was, I couldn’t stand the body I saw in the mirror.

But most of all, I was scared of the change. What if I succeeded? How would life be different? How would I feel about me? Would I lose my hard-sought sense of self-worth? Would my perceptions about myself change, and would I change with them? or would I be changed by them?

I knew if I lost the weight, I’d change. I’d be forced to be brave, have courage, and step into uncharted territory—and that terrified me.

It still terrifies me, but I’ve learned one truth as fact: I now know I can survive anything. This journey hasn’t been easy. I’ve hurt, and cried, and cursed a lot. I’ve fallen down in despair, but I’ve risen again in triumph. When I started, I never believed I could do any of the things I have—from running one mile, to two, to signing up for a 5K, to buying a size 10 pair of jeans, to falling head over heels in love with someone (who I realized loves me regardless of size.)

This truth makes my old fears disappear. It’s not that I don’t or won’t ever have those thoughts, but knowing I can survive means my perceptions have changed, and these thoughts don’t scare me anymore. Now I know that I’m the only thing that can hold me back, and I’m too happy to do that to myself any longer.

I’ve been so inspired as I’ve developed the Brave New Body Project. Ultimately, I’d love nothing more than for the positive outcome of my surgery to send this project skyrocketing upwards. One day, I intend to run a foundation that raises money and support for those seeking to get excess skin removal after massive weight loss. (Because let’s face it, at several $K for the bare minimum, it’s not free.)

For now, I’ll begin with the start, and work towards funding my own surgery, and inspiring others in the process.

The Brave New Body Project

The BNB Project aims to fund my surgery by creating motivational perks to inspire others. These perks include after photos by a professional photographer, a weight loss calendar, and a motivational journal—which all center around a pin-up shoot.

…Why a pin-up shoot? Because pin-up models make it look so easy! They have you thinking: If only I could be that confident about my body. If only I could be that brave. But, pin-up models don’t just look confident, they look happy in that confidence.

It’s hard to see that kind of fearless beauty in the world today. Little girls grow up believing that beauty is runway or the highway. I see this all the time at my job. I work for a non-profit teaching creative writing to middle school students. Many of these students—mostly girls—fill their papers with stories about feeling fat, ugly, and even worse, unloved. In the past, I’d pretend to be over all those superficial worries. I would act stronger than I was—I would act brave for them. I thought: If only you knew how beautiful you are. Love yourself! (even when I couldn’t follow that advice on my own.)

Only now am I fully realizing what it means to love myself—to be able to say, with confidence, the exact words I want to say to my students. This last year and a half has taught me that you have to feel beautiful inside before you can see it outside…but it was only through transforming my outside, and seeing my results, that I really started to feel that beauty permeate within.

Posing for a pin-up shoot will allow me to not only model my new confidence for myself, but for others. These iconic pin-up beauties have helped me overpower the punishingly unattainable airbrushed image of beauty that permeates the media today. These icons have given me a goal, inspired me to push forward. They helped me to be brave, not just pretend to be.

This journey started out with losing, but turned into a path of discovery. This journey is has reached a point where I’ve found a girl who has learned to be unafraid, and who wants to share fearlessness with others. The Brave New Body Project hopes to encourage others to know the truth that this journey has taught me: I know how beautiful I am and I love myself.

You can read more about my surgery, and my fundraising campaign at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/brave-new-body

While even $5 or $10 would truly make a difference, I know some folks can’t contribute monetarily. And, in the wake of the travesties around the country this spring, I know there are other fundraising projects that might be pulling at your heart. If you can’t financially contribute, but still want to help, please share my story with your friends and family, and know that I am so grateful for your support on this journey.

You can use the Indiegogo share tools right on the page to get the word out. I’ve already come so far with your love and support, and I thank each and every one of you. Whether you ran with me, let me fill the refrigerator with more colors of produce than you could shake a stick at, or just sent me warm thoughts, I thank you from every inch of my heart.

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