Jayne | Freedom, WI
Images by Kara Counard
"I have found joy. I have found peace. I have found the path to true satisfaction. I am starting to realize that I need to change my focus to myself instead of always to others. I now know that my body has given me the opportunity to do all the things I love, and so I need to repay it with love, kindness, and understanding."
Most people wouldn't have guessed that I have been self conscious about my body throughout my adolescent and adult life. I exude a confident personality in all aspects of my life. I am a high school teacher; my classroom is often an area of higher order learning, done in an energetic, exciting manner, and my students regularly express their gratitude for my apparent joy in my career. I also am a devoted wife to my hardworking husband and mother to four young children. I'm active in their lives and am a competent mother. I volunteer for my children's school and work hard to make sure that whatever I do is done thoroughly and proficiently. I have achieved high levels of education; I hold two masters degrees in education and European history. Most people who encounter me often comment "I don't know how you do it all". Little do they know that under this seemingly capable facade is a woman who is constantly questioning every action, compare myself to all I come in contact with, and always find myself lacking, to the point that I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I'm not as in shape as others; I am not as pretty; I'm not as well put together; I just don't see myself as equal. I always feel like something's not right. My jeans are too tight. My hair is wrong. My makeup is crooked. I'm too "squeezed" in my outfit. While my body has allowed me to do great things in my life, I hated it for what it wasn't. It wasn't toned. It wasn't fashionable. It wasn't right. These feelings began years ago in high school, and even though I discovered my scope of talents in college, where I blossomed through my classes, extra curricular activities, and meeting and falling in love with my husband, I never really understood that I was good enough just as I was. And because of that, I couldn't see myself as valuable for myself. I wasn't valuable as a whole human, I was only valuable for what I could do for others, and it never seemed enough. I could never quite get to the level of doing enough to find value in myself. So I constantly put myself on the back burner. I just kept doing for others. Even when I did feel pride in myself, I couldn't tell others that I did feel proud, as I feel like I didn't deserve it. It wasn't that big of a deal. There was no self validation. I shrugged off or deflected everyone else's feelings of pride.
I want to get to a full understanding of what my body has done for me. It has allowed me to achieve great things. I want to be able to accept praise sincerely and understand that it's perfectly fine to be ME. I'm good enough. My body, my personality, my soul... it’s beautiful and perfect for me. Could it use some sprucing up? Yes. Should I get in better shape, so I can be healthy enough to continue to do what I love for many many more years? Yes. Do I plan to do that? Yes. I want my inside feelings of self worth to match the personality I show to the outside world. This project was the jump-start I needed to see my value and become determined to make myself the best person I can. I feel a sense of calm and peace that I haven't felt in a long time. I feel the start of love for myself again.
I have found joy. I have found peace. I have found the path to true satisfaction. I am starting to realize that I need to change my focus to myself instead of always to others. I now know that my body has given me the opportunity to do all the things I love, and so I need to repay it with love, kindness, and understanding. I know that the process is not complete and it will take me some time to get to full understanding with myself, but I know that the process will be worth it in the end. I have true value, and not just for what I can do for others. I am a woman of worth, and it's time that I see for myself what everyone else could see in me: that I'm a kind, caring, compassionate woman that has the capability to care and love those around her fully and well; that there is value in just being me. I'm looking forward to continuing down the path to gaining self-acceptance. I'm grateful for the opportunity to participate in This Body Of Work, as it has opened new doors for me to better both my body and soul.
Portraits of Jayne by Kara Counard