Being a woman can be rough. The media tells us how we should look, feel, and act. It affects women of all ages, shapes, and sizes. It has such a negative impact on how we deal with every day life. How we think about ourselves. Simply Lush Portrait Boutique was founded to help women recognize their true beauty and confidence. To help women understand, they are gorgeous NO MATTER WHAT.
A few months into the business, Build Me Up Beautiful was created. It started as a private Facebook group. It’s a friendly community of women who are there to help build one another up instead of tearing them down. Sharing photos, advice, stories, inspiration, and other resources that will serve to educate, entertain, encourage, and empower women. Now, with over 200 members in the group – monthly gatherings are hosted. Generally, about 10-15 women show up each month to hang out, take a break from life, and inspire one another or share how they’ve been feeling recently.
A couple of months ago, there was a body positivity project shared in the private group. Everyone went nuts! The original post began to go viral and received a lot of positive attention. We decided we wanted to spread the word of self-love in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We reached out to the original poster (JW Photography) for permission, of course. They were so happy we were so inspired and loved that we wanted to do something similar.
Working for Simply Lush Portrait Boutique and seeing how women feel about themselves every day – how I have felt about myself in the past – this project really spoke to me. With the body positivity movement becoming more popular – we wanted to contribute as much as we can. We are hoping for part two in early Spring!
We also raised over $100 to donate to our local Women’s Resource Center!
Thank you so much to these women who braved their insecurities and allowed me to capture these raw/intimate moments to share to the world. Nothing is photoshopped except minor manipulations to the signs being held so they are easier to read.
Help us spread body positivity!
Body shaming must end; no one is perfect.
“Until quite recently most women have been raised with the notion that there is only one good way to have a body; one attractive way, one right way. We must have clear smooth skin, small noses, perky breasts, flat bellies, round asses, maximum femininity and minimal body fat. We must be fit but not too fit as that can be masculine. Thin but not too thin … then we’re too bony. Curvy but not too curvy … then we are fat, and God forbid we’ve got that cellulite…there is a cream for that!!! We are constantly told by magazines, tv, movies, music and social media what we should look like. I am no exception. I was well aware of my body and all of its “flaws” before I was old enough to write a full sentence in cursive which eventually turned into a long fight with binge eating, bulimia, restriction, depression, self loathing, and the constant cutting down of others to make myself feel better. I have been bone thin, athletic, and overweight … I can tell you when you are at war with yourself there is no right way to have a body. Although I still deal with most of the above mentioned issues on a daily basis and it’s a nightmare I still do my best to move forward, and I’ve learned a lot. I have learned that I’m absolutely not the only person on the planet who deals with these feelings and I’ve made it a point to be sure I am not part of the problem but part of the solution. Build Me Up Beautiful and The Body Positive movement has helped me with this. What is the solution? The solution is not cutting other women down. The solution is the realization that every body is unique, beautiful, and not for you or anyone to judge, talk about, or critique. The solution is taking a minute to realize how preposterous it is to say to someone that their height allows them to “carry that weight well.” What?! … In any case … Think before you speak. Think of your daughters, friends, mothers, sisters. You never know what someone might be going through.
Thank you to the girls who participated in this project with us! Hopefully you got something from it and other women who see it will be inspired to join in next time and we can spread self love like the virus it should be!!! <3″ – Andrea
“Being positive about my body image has taken many years and I’m happy to say that I am happy, comfortable and confident with who I am today. As a kid I was teased about my crooked teeth and overbite. I didn’t feel comfortable smiling around people or in my school photos. People could say the most hurtful things. When I hit middle school, I got braces to correct the issue. You would think that would fix my confidence issue but I found the braces made me feel just as insecure. After spending a few years in braces, I now have a beautiful smile. However, that was only one battle I’ve faced as a woman. I’ve learned that beauty is not just defined by what you see on the outside. It’s about who you are on the inside too. And… I am happy to be me! 😊” – Mauri
“My whole life I grew up with people around me telling me I need to eat more. Strangers and friends. I am sure they thought it was a compliment… but I started to feel disgusted about myself thinking I was too skinny and not voluptuous enough to be a female or what the media thinks a female should be. I began binge eating – trying to gain weight. I became very upset with myself falling into a whirlwind of insults and letting it beat me down. I didn’t care what I ate or when. I gained some weight, but not much. I then became obsessed with watching how much I ate because I was getting older. I stressed about this for months – counting my calories and weighing my food. Finally, I channeled all of this negative energy into something positive. I began healthy eating habits and going to the gym. I feel SO much better about myself because I learned to accept my body. Learned to love my body. I still binge eat, but I do it smartly. Pizza Fridays, haha!
I realize I am not alone – that many women feel this way. I now embrace the body I have. No one should be worried about what they have to eat every minute of the day.” – Ashley
“I was born with a sacrococcygeal teratoma which is a large tumor on my sacrum and coccyx bone. The tumor was internal and external and it caused nerve damage in my bowel and bladder. The doctors had to make me a bladder and removed my belly button and made it into an apendicovesicostomy. I have to insert a tube into the apendicovesicostomy every two hours and that’s how I have to urinate. I have a cecostomy, the white tube in my right lower abdomen that is coiled directly into my bowel. I have to inject medication into it every 2 days in order to have a bowel movement. The tumor was so large that it dislocated my hips and legs and caused nerve damage in my right leg from the knee down. I have no movement in my right lower leg or foot. My right foot is called a “drop foot”. I have to wear a carbon fiber mafo (modified ankle and foot orthotic) in order for me to be able to walk.
From a young age people have bullied me and made negative comments about my disabilities. For example when I was 5 years old playing at recess and running with the other kids, a boy called me “paralyzed foot girl”. He then shamed me into racing him to prove his points to everyone listening. Another time when I was 12 years old a girl threatened to tell a boy that I liked that I urinated through my belly button if I didn’t do something for her. As a kid growing up I was ashamed and embarrassed of my medical issues, in that i wasn’t the same as everyone else. There are countless examples of similar occurrences throughout my life. I have learned to overlook people’s ignorance and insensitivity, to the point where I now embrace those ‘differences'”. – Natalie
“Some people may not read my story in its entirety, some people may even judge me for being a part of this project, BUT my story and this experience may inspire some people. That is what matters to me most.
Growing up I was not very active nor did I have a nutritious balanced diet, I had no idea what that was or really what it meant. I was always a little heavier, it was only when tragedy would strike that I would lose weight; when my father died of cancer and my high school boyfriend died in a car accident. I would always put the weight back on and my weight would always fluctuate… and people always made comments.
In my early twenties, I was in a not so healthy on and off again relationship and was probably 20 pounds overweight and with a newly diagnoses of asthma; walking up a flight of stairs was a challenge for me. I eventually joined a gym and started doing ALL OF THE cardio and began losing body fat… then I began to strength train and lost more, gained lean muscle and as a bonus, my asthma improved. I was so eager to learn more and knew I needed to make another life change…
The year I should have graduated college I switched Universities and changed my focus to nutrition and dietetics. I have been in love ever since! My very first year in school and discovered my passion for sports nutrition. I found it fascinating how food fueled and changed my body. I wanted to not only fuel myself to train harder and get stronger, but I wanted to help others do the same. While in school, around this time I also got into high intensity cycling and eventually became an instructor.
However, not all stories have positive turns of events; during my time in school I developed very unhealthy eating habits, which unfortunately is quite common amongst individuals in both the nutrition and fitness industry. About 2 years into my studies I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder without purging. That first year was excruciating, it interfered with my life both physical and emotional. I decided to get help. I saw a therapist for 2 years to help me get my sh*t together and today I can tell you I have. I share this in that I understand what it is like to completely lose control and be uncomfortable in my skin. I NEVER FELT COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN.
Today I am a registered dietitian-nutritionist and a soon to be certified specialist in sports dietetics with a focus on mindful eating and body positivity. These concepts are so powerful and so life changing. Which is why in my practice I never recommend the restriction of foods or call any food “bad”. There are no “bad foods.” I believe there should be a healthy balance of all foods. Where there is balance there is success.
A few years ago I found CrossFit, which changed my life! These days I focus on improving my overall strength and conditioning. I love Olympic lifting, it is challenging yet so rewarding mentally and physically. I become stronger everyday and that is just so awesome to me.
I have never felt this good in my body, in my own skin. I am strong, more fit, faster and overall better…mentally, physically and emotionally. I owe that to CrossFit and my nutrition.
It is so important to instill positivity into others and help to motivate and inspire them. I am so fortunate that every day I get to help people and athletes improve physically, but I am so fortunate that I get to instill positive behaviors in them.
Every woman I have every worked with and I will continue to work with will always want to lose weight because they are not comfortable in their own skin. That is not ok. They never seem to realize that they are so unique and beautiful in their own way
We are beautiful, we are strong and we are enough. Believe in yourself. Love yourself.” – Karen
“I don’t always like my body but I am learning to love my body. When I am filled with self criticism, I find something to be grateful for instead. Some days are more challenging but ultimately, I prevail.” – Amanda
“I have struggled with body image and disordered eating since I was 14 so about 7 years now. During the worst times I battled with anorexia, binging and purging, and overall hatred of myself. I had always been one of the taller girls in school and extracurricular activities which gave me the desire to be smaller and take up less space. Things became serious when I was barely able to get out of bed and when I was fainting at school and during sports that I began to realize I was destroying myself. When the time had come to take action towards my illness and start my recovery I was told various cruel and discouraging words which made recovery very difficult, but I persevered. It took years of channeling my negative energy and thoughts into positive outlets to discover that I have a strong, capable, and amazing body that shouldn’t be abused by my own self. Now that I have made it past the negative comments, the tears, and the relapses I am finally happy. I have grown and shaped myself into the individual I am today. I am proud to say that I love every single inch of my body and mind and I hope every person will be able to say that about themselves also.” – Ashley