photo: Lauren Gordon

For some, taking a photo is freezing a perfect moment in time. In fact, it's capturing timelessness itself— unedited, memorable snippets frozen forever in a single shot. Perhaps that is exactly what always terrified me of getting my photo taken. 

Despite the fact that I was always ferociously loved by family, friends, and my husband, I could never muster an ounce of love for myself. No matter what job I had, what kind thing I had done, or what I accomplished, there was nothing that made me worthy enough, nothing worth capturing. 

Whenever a photo was taken of me, I'd immediately look for all the things I could rip apart. My double chin, the size of my arm compared to my best friend's — it never mattered. I saw flaws everywhere. And frankly, hating yourself that much is exhausting. 

I had tried everything under the sun to work on my confidence privately. I'd worn brighter lipsticks, lost weight, and even tried cutting all my hair off. And while those things helped, it was fleeting. I'd still look at photographs with disgust and shame. 

Until one day, about a year ago, when I snapped a selfie.

All I showed was my face and a meticulously angled arm. I stared at the photo for 30 minutes, debating whether or not I'd post it where anyone could see. I searched for double chins and dangling "offensive" arm fat and despite the fact I found 100 reasons not to post this photo, I did it anyway.

A photo posted by Lauren Gordon (@laurengord0n) on

A few days and poorly composed food photos later (you know, to "make up for" the offensive selfie), I uploaded another.

And another.

And with each photo I uploaded, I discovered something "tolerable" about myself.

Once I got comfortable with my face, I decided to try and work on loving a little more of me.

I posted my first full-body shot about 10 weeks after my initial selfie.

And surprisingly, no one threatened to douse their eyes in bleach. Or point out my imperfections...

So I did it again.

Turquoise #plussize #bodypositive #lipstick #tattoo #jewelry

A photo posted by Lauren Gordon (@laurengord0n) on

And again.

Until I made it my daily ritual, and committed myself to snapping one photo a day. No matter how I looked, or what I was wearing, or how that day was going: One selfie a day.

And in a way, that commitment became the most liberating thing I'd ever done for myself. 

I always wanted colorful hair but was afraid to do it because the last thing I wanted was to be seen.

Until I said fuck it, and had Mark Tajas of Salon Orchard load my hair up with the colors of the rainbow. 

I began showing things like my legs.

And GASP! No one died!

I also went makeup-free for all the world to see.

And coming from a girl who carried extra eyeliner in her pencil case in seventh grade, this was a big deal. 

I even got my very first two-piece bathing suit!

And wore it. To an actual beach. With people. 

And I continued to set little challenges for myself, like posting photos that didn't give me the perfect silhouette or most "flattering" angle.

And even though I was called things by strangers like "ham planet echo chamber" in since-deleted posts, I really didn't give a fuck.

I changed the way I talked about myself and others. Sure, I had bad days, but I began banishing self-shaming from my vocabulary, and really worked on loving all the squishy, weird bits about me.

I was finally doing me, unapologetically. Purple hair, bodycon dresses — the skies became the limit.

And why shouldn't they be?

After all, this is MY body, the only one I'll ever have. Spending years hiding from cameras and sucking in and scrutinizing every hair on my body was utter bullshit and a waste of my time. I could be beautiful, right now, just as I was. 

All I really had to do was see myself that way.

So to end my year, I booked a shoot with the incredible Cheyenne Gil, who specializes in boudoir photography and champions true "body acceptance" by refusing to re-touch any "imperfections."

In these photos I could not hide under layers of clothes or premeditated angles. I trusted someone else to show me I was beautiful through someone else's eyes,

And you know what? I'm actually starting to believe it.

Perhaps this whole experiment was deeply narcissistic. But I honestly don't care.

Because for one whole year, I forced myself to truly see myself. Through bad acne, bloated PMS days, frizzy hair, and awkward angles. And in doing that, I think I've finally learned a universal truth:

Every roll, every lump, and every bump is me. And just because some people on a screen are pushing an imaginary agenda that they barely believe, that doesn't mean I don't have a right to exist exactly as I am.

Slay doesn't have a size, and it fits on me just fine.