Melissa | Elbow Cay, Abaco, The Bahamas
Images by Mary McHenry
"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."
Before I began this project, I spent most days looking in the mirror and hating my body and my features. When I as younger, I hated my body because it was skinny and weak. I wanted to be stronger, more athletic. After a difficult first childbirth, I had an emergency c-section. I had wanted and expected a natural childbirth. I felt like my body had failed me. My c-section scar was a constant reminder of my perceived failure. As I aged, I slowly gained weight. After my second child, I struggled to maintain what I thought was my ideal body weight. Every day I looked in the mirror and put myself down. I stopped accepting complements from my husband. I looked at other women with envy. Many days I cried out of frustration.
I want my body story to be one of patience and acceptance. My daughter is now 12 years old. I want her body story to be a positive one. I want to be a good example for her and other women! I will no longer allow myself to speak negatively about my body and I will encourage other women to abandon their negative self-talk as well. I am now at peace with my body. It may not be thin, but it is strong and healthy and I am thankful for every day that it carries me.
Today, when I look in the mirror, I smile at myself. If my husband compliments me, I thank him rather than brush him off. I am learning to trust my body and what it needs and to embrace everything about it. What has changed inside me makes me feel lighter, happier and at peace.
Portraits of Melissa by Mary McHenry