This post is brought to you by Natori, but all opinions my own.
Today, we're going to get personal. Not personal only because I'm showing you my undergarments – but personal because of what happened during the process of putting this post together.
When I was 6, I was poked in my stomach and told I was fat. I've been hyper-aware of my body ever since. When I was 12, I refused to wear a training bra as I was one of the first girls in my class to start developing and I didn't understand why I needed it. At 16, I desperately tried to fit into the bras that all my friends were buying, to no avail. I shopped with my mom for minimizers, which came in horrid shades of taupe with underwires so unforgiving, they'd leave indentations in my skin for hours after they were removed.
Fit notes: I'm wearing the 44G bra and XXL panties
I've gained and lost and gained and lost weight. My breasts have been in various states of large, larger, and “is that even a cup size?” Life has been filled with consistently seeing and hearing how my body should be smaller, stomach flatter, skin more taught, and breasts more perky. The feelings of inadequacy ran so deep as to develop an eating disorder and have crippling anxiety and depression. I learned how to masterfully smile and fake confidence while simultaneously trying to minimize my presence in a room.
Body image issues have consumed huge blocks of my life (that's why this blog was originally started). The majority of the time, I felt like I looked so much larger than I actually was. Cue photo avoidance, and now looking back at the few photos I'm in to realize I should have felt wonderful. I've also spent some time on the other side of the spectrum, feeling like I looked much smaller than I actually was. When you spend so much of your life thinking about the inadequacies of your body, you long for that day when your body image and reality are completely equal.
Enter learning how to embrace fashion and dressing the body I have now versus waiting until I have a “new and improved” body in the future. I wanted to stop hiding and start showing who I was as a person. I worked on embracing confidence and living the life I wanted without feeling inadequate because of my size. I spent way too long hating my body.
When I heard about this Natori +Support line, I thought that surely they wouldn't have my size. Beautiful intimates that promise to be supportive are really rare. But I saw they went from a 30DD to 44H, and jumped at the chance to try them.
There are elements of sheer mesh and contrasting lace in these sets, not to mention beautiful color options. They made me feel pretty and confident, which is what all undergarments should do. (And I've subsequently started throwing away anything that doesn't make me feel great. Very liberating!)
When I was talking to my friends about shooting in my new bras, I found myself trying to explain my only hesitation:
I just want the photos to match how confident and beautiful I finally feel on the inside. My body image and reality never match, and the last thing I want to do is have worked so hard on my body image to only see flaws reflected back.
My friend and photographer Emily came over to my house and we drank coffee and gabbed about her recent vacation to Mexico and my recent dates. We laughed and I pranced around in my new underwear (something I've never done, even at slumber parties or doing a quick-change at the gym). She said things like “face your butt to the light!” and I kept remarking how I never thought I'd have photos taken in my undies. It seemed so ridiculous.
After seeing the photos, however, I realized that for the first time ever, my body image is accurate. I held my breath as I opened each photo and braced to be disappointed. It never happened. I saw photo after photo of sarcasm and side-eye (2 of my default faces), lots of laughter, body rolls, faded stretch marks, and a round belly. None of which made me feel bad. Quite the opposite – I saw confidence and beauty that even at a much smaller size, I've never been able to recognize. My outside matches how I feel on the inside. Imperfect and flawed, but also strong, accomplished, resilient, and beautiful.
Photos by Emily Moseley
I fully realize many people won't look at these photos and see the same things that I do. But that's the point – after spending years of hating my body, I don't NEED you to see what I see. We all have different perceptions of what is attractive. My genuine hope for you is that you will be able to see the beauty in yourself, exactly as you are.
View the full Natori +Support Collection for beautiful, supportive bras in sizes 30DD to 44H.