About 2 months ago, I received an invitation from Amber Krzys, founder of Bodyheart, to be an ambassador for her organization’s campaign. Sections of her email read:

“I’d love to feature you in the bodyheart Campaign – an awareness movement celebrating the ART of the female form. I wanted to start a conversation with women about what we love instead of what we hate about our bodies, as well as build a community of women who support one another instead of compete with each other.”

Ok, so far I’m thinking YES YES YES!

“The campaign is made of a series of black and white photographs … with a hand-drawn heart on each woman’s face and favorite body part. These images are completely un-retouched and meant to display how gorgeous we already are. That we, in fact, are enough! … The campaign is about celebrating real beauty, so there will not be a make-up artist or hair stylist at the shoot. We believe all women are gorgeous just as they are and that is what we are bringing to light.”

Um… for real… no hair and make up posse? Ok that is fine but totally untouched??? “Wow,” I thought, “an opportunity to walk the self-acceptance I talk.”

My own body trip changed after being diagnosed with cancer in 1997. Like tons of American women, I struggled with body image, did the yo-yo dieting (my fave was the diet where I could eat anything I wanted as long as I consumed it all in one sitting and in less than one hour – no lie), and been my own worst critic and overall pretty mean to my poor ole’ body.  Then I got sick, and it all changed from external perfection to health, quality of life, and LIVING.

Through lots of my own therapy and self-study, I learned to totally appreciate my “God Pod” as my pal Kris Carr has coined it. I truly believe we are all perfect manifestations, as is, of this Divine universe.  Your DNA is totally unique to you so comparing yourself to others makes no sense because you are the only you.  Developing a true appreciation for the gift of being able to be on this earth, at this moment, just as you are, and soaking in all your experiences and learning is a gift you already have in your possession. All you need to do is open it.

As a licensed psychotherapist, I have helped countless women AND men with low self-esteem and less than stellar self-acceptance realize the true potential they have by having their spirit housed in a physical, human body. Nobody’s body is perfect, but it’s perfect for your soul, and your physical being is not what defines you. It may change shape, it may be dis-eased, but your true essence remains the same. As Dana Reeve whispered in her just paralyzed husband, Christopher Reeve’s, ear, “You’re still YOU.” On the flip side, taking immaculate care of this physical body shows your soul how much you cherish it – you want it to have a tricked-out, eco-friendly pad!

With this campaign, I am excited to be an agent of change and get the message of self-acceptance and celebration to more people.  I chose to forgo the professional photographer because the only available shoot time would have cut short my visit with my son, Alex. I showed up at Amber’s house ready to go with her little Cannon and the sun. When I got the pictures back to approve which one I wanted used, I shared them with a director friend. She said, “Terri, I think you should re-shoot these. They are too sexy and your skin does not look good. You have an image to protect.” I disagree. I actually have a truth to promote.

I chose the cancer scar at the bottom of my neck as my favorite body part. It reminds me to be conscious enough to stop, re-prioritize, and listen closely to my body.  It reminds me to LIVE. We are not guaranteed any amount of time on this planet, so it is all a gift and a privilege.

All of the punishment we inflict upon our body originates in the past. Someone, whether a parent, the media, a “friend”, convinced us we were less than perfect and instilled a fear in us that we could not live up to a standard. We then berate ourselves because this image of perfection is unattainable, so we continue to feel like failures because we don’t attain it, and the fear wheel keeps turning. Time to stop this endless cycle.

I am proud to have been able to share my experience via photograph for Bodyheart. This message to be present in our body, to truly feel ourselves in our own skin, and to celebrate it is so powerful and one that needs to be heard.

I want to hear your thoughts on body image. Do you struggle with the reflection in the mirror? Have you been able to overcome it? If so, how? What do you think would need to happen for you to look “perfect”? If you were to achieve that perfection, would it be enough, or would it just be another stepping stone on the never-ending road?

As always I am looking forward to hearing from you.  Remember what you share can heal another.

Love Love Love

Terri

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  1. I love this aticle…and the photograph series, and the idea behind it. I feel madly in Love 3 years ago, and the “Love of my Life”..is an artactive woman who wears NO makeup. She does incredble work bringing her specialty, Speech and Language Pathology, to the remote native villages of Western Alaska, flying in small planes and often sleeping on an office floor, or someone’s couch. When I firsts told her she was beautiful, she said she does not see that when she looks in the mirror, so I kept telling her. A close friend had heard a lot about her, from me obviously, and we are all in the same place not too long ago…and he asked which one she was, then went on a “drive-by”, OK, he walked past her in a public setting, then came back to tell me she was OK, but she has a BIG nose. To this day, I do not see that at ALL. I am trying to figure out what HE saw. I think women need to hear about their beauty, and from those who see more than the clothes, or the nakeup, and do see, what they are, what they represent, and are they giving, or are they taking. My Love is incredibly nurturing and kind, and it radiates through every aspect of who she is, and it makes her so VERY beautiful to me. I hope some day, when she looks in the mirror, she sees what I see. PEACE

  2. Dear lady,
    Enlightening, spiritual and at the same time down to earth realistic article. God bless ya always and everytime.
    Regards
    Ken

  3. Terri, you look absolutely beautiful and I love that you chose the cancer scar as your favorite body part. Our bodies tell a the story of a wonderful and sometimes difficult journey and our scars are a reflection of that. I adore the “God pod” concept. I read a story on HuffPost today about a woman who got all kinds of plastic surgery and received promotions galore from her male superiors as a result. That deeply saddened me. We are such much more than that.

    Thank you for sharing,

    Love and light ~

    Nikki xoxo

  4. Brave woman. I can’t thank you enough! I think the biggest gift women can give each other is to be truthful to each other, so when you said you didn’t want to “protect” your image in this case because you “have a truth to promote,” I just felt so grateful! (How do we encourage more women to do that? How do we encourage ourselves to to do that?) Bravo & thank you! With so much respect, Odile

    1. Dear Odile~
      Thank you so much for your kind words! The only way I know how to encourage women to be more honest with themselves and each other is to lead by example and just Do It! The truth is that, WHO we are on the inside is what matters, kindness matters, generosity matters, self LOVE is crucial. We are all sisters on this journey…I am grateful xo
      love love love
      terri

  5. Thanks Sarah!
    I appreciate your words of wisdom and your own self celebration. I say Frig acceptance it seems like a consolation prize in some way, ya know? Body and self CELEBRATION! Now that is a movement I can get behind! Happy to have other like minded mamas like you with me! Whoooooo Hoooooooooo!!!!
    Love Love Love
    Terri

  6. <3 it. Beautiful words, & beautiful image of you Terri.
    i think the one thing that has always made me feel good about my body is being connected to it and feeling the energy run through it. I've always danced, hiked, been active, and to me that's probably key. that's not to say i have the 'perfect' body in comparison to models or hollywood actresses, but i feel strong, energised, with stamina & feel 'rooted' in my body. i guess all the comparitive image-based stuff doesn't matter so much when you're just happy to be in your own body & all the things it can do.

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