I've come a long way when it comes to accepting my body. I feel an almost ambivalence toward the rolls and bumps that once made me nauseous. If someone tells me that they find me attractive, I'm not immediately suspicious and sad for them. And believe me, having the burden of hating yourself lifted from you is like going from being blind to being able to see for the first time.
That isn't to say I don't still have my insecurities — especially about my breasts. But seeing Ashley Graham pose nude for V Magazine has surprisingly changed that.
I've always had a love/hate relationship with my breasts.
I wore my first bra in the first grade — and if that sounds insanely young, that's because it is. I was one of the girls who developed long before she "should" have, and they grew bigger every year —until eventually I landed on a consistent DDD cup.
And I know what you're thinking: Why, in a society that praises and glorifies big breasts, am I even remotely complaining?
And I hear you. I do. In fact, when my boobs are clothed in a cute bra or a cleavage-baring shirt, I feel sexy AF. They look good, and alluring, and I am really confident in that.
The second my girls are released from their cage, all I see are boobs that are long, hang low, spill to the sides, and possess really large nipples. They look nothing like the beautiful, perky, voluptuous breasts I've been inundated with thanks to mainstream media.
And though I know logically that those breasts are likely augmented, when they're repeatedly shoved in your face, you kind of can't help but compare them to your own.
So when I saw Ashley Graham's nude, curvaceous body, I was sort of shell shocked.
But to be fair, before Graham ever shared her nude photoshoot, she posted a meme that made me pause.
"Call me GrapeMelon... or maybe WaterFruit. #perfectlyme," she wrote.
And I thought, "that can't be true because I'd say the same thing about mine."
Despite immersing myself in body positivity and doing my best to realize that there is no predetermined model for any "type" of body, i couldn't comprehend that a woman who looked like her could have any parts that remotely resembled me.
And then I saw her naked.
Though our bodies are completely different, seeing Graham like this made me emotional. Because her breasts, while obviously gorgeous, are nothing like anything I had seen in mainstream media.
They are long, and they hang, and they spill to the sides — just like mine.
And when I saw this shot of her contorted to the side, I nearly wept.
You mean her boobs don't sit erect and inviting when she lays down?
They squish and shape and look perfectly imperfect — and for so long I was convinced I must look horrifying to my partner when laying down.
Looking at her, I can now see they are beautiful, from every angle.
This is exactly why representation matters.
No matter where you are on your body-positivity journey, it always helps to see others who look even a little bit like you thriving and being celebrated.
I don't have a mirror image of Ashley's curves, and I likely never will. But her bravery in baring part of her body, one that isn't airbrushed or altered, and her putting it proudly on display really made me see my own body in a different light.
"Bosom buddies" has taken on a whole new meaning for me, and I am so happy that Ashley Graham is now one of mine.