Katie, Westport, MA

Image by Kim Keiter Johnson

Image by Kim Keiter Johnson

Image by Kim Keiter Johnson

"I have struggled with body image issues since I was little. I always questioned my looks, and at times felt rather paralyzed by insecurity. I often felt angry with my body because it wasn’t the way I thought it should be. This disconnect between my body and mind fueled emotional insecurities, which negatively affected my relationships with other people. I’ll never get that part of my life back, but I have learned valuable lessons from it.

Now, post partum, I face a new set of body “challenges”. That nice smooth, firm, round belly, is a soft squishy potbelly, with a 6” scar at its base. The experience of giving birth (having major surgery) has resulted in a loss of humility, and my husband has truly seen everything as I navigate breast feeding, wearing granny panties and giant maxi pads, not showering for a few days at a time, being sleep weary, and only able to wear clothes I can nurse in. But he tells me how much he loves me and that he still thinks I’m sexy. The comfort I find in him has been miracle work for my self-confidence and steps to a more positive body image. The scar from birthing my boy is something I feel a sense of pride in - it's a battle wound from bringing a beautiful little human into the world. I won’t waste my time feeling self-conscious about it, because it brought me such immeasurable beauty.

Now that my son is here, everything has changed. Having a child, it seems, is the fastest way to get your priorities straight. I look at him, and the immense swelling of a love I could not conceive of prior makes all other things melt away. I now don’t care as much how long it takes to get my body back. I’m not even sure what I’m getting it “back” to; it will never be the same, because it just endured an amazing process. My body did everything it was designed to do, and well. I am beyond proud of that, and the end result of these physical transformations is our son. I just stare at him in wonder that my husband and I made this little person. That I carried him for 9 months, and here he is in all his little beauty. It’s been a reminder that the things people respect about one another go far beyond physical capacities: it’s what we do, who we are, not what we look like. So, despite my disappointment in the shape of my nose, or my feet, or whatever other trite thing I’ve obsessed over about myself, I know what I am capable of, and I am proud of that. So while those insecure feelings will always find a way to rear their ugly heads from time to time, I am now better equipped to cast them off as what they are, which is just negatively fueled emotions. I am at the happiest place in my life right now - I intend to try my hardest not to waste a moment of that on things I cannot change, and things that serve only to distract me from what is most important now: my wonderful little family.

There was something about pregnancy - all the hormone fluxes I guess - that somehow boosted my self- confidence. It’s hard to explain, but I gained this sense of personal power. I felt more able than ever to speak my mind, advocate for myself, and generally not put up with any bullshit. I saw the opportunity to pose for Kim as a chance to face some fears, particularly while I was in a state physically that could certainly be considered less than “perfect”. The experience was awesome. It was such a positive experience to shed my self-consciousness and push myself to release a bit, and celebrate who I am and what I was going through physically. Knowing that this personal process was contributing a piece to a larger whole of women confronting themselves and their issues positively felt really good. Overall, taking part in this project has been another step in working to alter my mind set about my physical and mental self, and to focus more deeply on the things about me that really matter, not what my ever- changing body looks like.”

-- Katie

Images of Katie by Kim Keiter-Johnson, Providence RI