You.  Are.  Beautiful.

I bet when most of you read those words, that little voice of doubt and self consciousness spoke up, nagging at you, telling you the exact opposite.

Don’t be ashamed, it happens to most of us.  I have those days, and in my younger years, I had them every single time I looked into a mirror.  In fact, I had a very toxic outlook on my appearance.  It caused issues with how I saw myself as a whole, and in turn I developed some rather unhealthy habits as far as eating and dieting went.  It was stupid really, I looked just fine, but at that point in time, I thought I was the worst.  It wasn’t until after I had kids that I stopped worrying about it so much.

I didn’t let myself go.  I just became comfortable in my own skin, my very stretch marked skin that is lol.

I spent my days growing up in a very vanity driven area.  Living in the surrounding cities of LA kind of does that to you.  I rarely left the house without my face on or my hair done.  I always wanted to look “on point” even if I was driving to the gas station at 4 am or to Walmart to get some damn milk.  It was ridiculous really.  And if I did end up leaving the house looking less than my version of perfect, I felt so down on myself for it.  I would feel like people were starring in the worst of ways.  I thought maybe they were inspecting me under a microscope, searching for every flaw I had.  It was an unsettling way to feel on a daily basis.  And god, when I gained all my weight, it was even worse.  I was always a very thin person until my early 20’s when my medication count went from one or two pills a day to seven.  I gained at least 50 lbs and I was unhappy to say the least.  Then I lost it all and I was so elated about it.  But, it never felt like it was enough.  I was thin, but I wanted to be thiner.  I was pretty, but I wanted to be super model pretty.  I wanted things that weren’t possible, not really anyways.  I wanted the unrealistic to become real life for me.

I know that in this day and age, everyone has these unrealistic expectations of what people should look like.  Men should look like Channing Tatum, act like a dude out of a Nicholas Sparks book, and make money like Christian Grey.  And women, well, we all need to look as flawless as Barbie, embody seduction like Kim K but still be as innocent as a virgin, and be willing to submit but have a spit-fire take on life too.  And you know what, in theory that’s all fine and dandy, except when it isn’t.  Who wants to be like that? I don’t know about you but that just seems like a whole lot of work that I don’t want to do.  Why would I want to spend/waste my time looking and embodying someone that isn’t me? Isn’t that kind of…pointless? I wasn’t put on this Earth by whatever divine power there is for me to waste my life being someone I’m not.  I spent years doing this, I spent years wearing the six inch heels that I could hardly walk in just to make my legs look longer.  I wore the five pounds of makeup to make me look older, look like I have perfect skin.  I did my hair, frying it in all kinds of ways for what?  So I could walk around feeling uncomfortable when I really just wanted to feel good with my hair up, no make up on, and in a t-shirt and jeans.  I don’t know what happened but suddenly I went from a girl looking to be flawless, to a woman who feels just fine as she is.

I think it happened when my kids were born and all of a sudden my perspective and priorities switched.  I realized that there were bigger things in life than how I looked.  It didn’t happen over night, but it did happen.  And you know what? I’ve never felt better.

Let’s be honest here.  I am far from perfect. I’m not just talking mentally, cause let’s face it, I’m one of the most awkward people you’ll meet.  I’m weird, I’m random, I have this issue with rambling, and good lord do I have issues with people touching me or when there are too many emotions in one tiny area.  But, I also have some physical flaws too.  Some that people don’t think I have, just because, from the outside, I seem to have it all…and by that I mean that I’m thin.  But, as everyone must know by now, not everything is as it seems.  I don’t want that to sound like I hate what I’ve got going on, because in truth, I kind of love it in some really odd way.  I have a pretty weird stomach, especially after carrying twins to near full term.  If you’ve ever seen pictures of my pregnant belly then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, then just picture a giant torpedo trying to escape from my midsection, add in some super shiny skin, and the fact that there was nothing truly round about my belly, and you’ve got a decent image of what I might have looked like.  I’ve got stretch marks, I’ve got a weird caved in belly from my muscles no longer being attached to each other, a hernia, and my boobs that were once pretty damn awesome from breastfeeding are now shrinking.  I’m aware of my flaws, and some days they bother the hell out of me.  Especially when my I’m-growing-my-mistake-of-a-pixie-haircut-out-and-I-look-like-a-mixture-of-Justin-Bieber-and-Mrs-Brady is in full swing.  But, I think somewhere along the way I learned to love me even on the days where I wish I looked a little different.

I hate seeing women and even men, hating the way they look because there is this unrealistic expectation of what we should look like.  Because in reality, everyone is beautiful in their own way.  You could be 900 lbs but if you’re a good person, if you can make someone else laugh, and make an impact in someone’s life then you are beautiful.  It doesn’t take looking like a photoshopped model to be beautiful.  It just takes a little confidence and a good soul.

And I’m sure none of this will make you feel better about yourself, but I wish it would.  I wish there were less people living life feeling terrible about themselves and more people saying “You know what? Fuck what people say.  I am fabulous.” Because you are.

When the kids were born I think I struggled for a month or so.  I was adjusting.  My once flat and smooth stomach was some strange shade of brown from my skin healing, and it was bloated and foreign.  And, I went from being my own person to being a mom with two tiny humans attached to my boobs all day, relying on me to protect them, feed them, love them unconditionally.  And I did all of those things willingly and happily but it became overwhelming to realize that I was their everything and their role model.  And I thought about Emma and how I really hate the idea of her feeling the same way as I did about myself.  I didn’t want her to see me the way I saw myself– gross and ugly and have that be her one prime examples of how a woman should feel about herself.  So, I vowed to try and change that.

I think it really hit home when we decided to take the kids to the lake one day and I was so excited, until I realized I would have to wear a bathing suit.  That thought alone killed me.  And you want to know the first thing I asked my husband when we made these plans? “Do you think the people we’re going with will be offended by me wearing a bikini?” My husband looked at me dumbfounded and asked me what the hell i was talking about.  I said, “You know, because of my stomach.” He didn’t even offer a response, he shook his head at me and walked away.  I got the point.  I was being ridiculous and there were no amount of words that he could utter my way that would make me feel any more stupid as I did right then.  That’s the upside to my husband, a lot of times he lets me figure out my own mistakes on my own.  It made me think though.  And I came to this conclusion:

Who the fuck cared?

I’ll wear a bikini because I want to wear one.

Will people find it gross and weird? I’m sure they will.

Will it impact the way I feel about myself? Maybe.

Should it? No.

Will it impact me forever? Definitely not.

And you want to know why? Because I could look down at my kids and see them smiling at me, weird stomach, stretch marks, naked face and all, and they would still smile at me with all the love in the world.  And because my husband, who honestly saw things in that delivery room that I”m sure is now burned into his brain forever, still found himself attracted to me.  He still loved me.  I had all the love from these three incredible people who saw nothing wrong with me.  They only saw me for the person I am, not what my body looked like.

So what was the problem?

It was then and there that I decided to let it all go.

Fuck it.

Bitch, I’m fabulous.

And I went about my day.  I rocked that bikini with a smile on my face because my kids were happy, my husband was happy, and I was fuckin happy.

I wish everyone that feels bad about themselves could break the chains of self doubt and self criticism because it feels amazing and it opens up opportunities for so much more in life when you feel good about you.

So, I want to say that each and everyone of you….YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, DAMMIT.

Because I said so.  Because I believe it’s true.  And because you deserve to feel it.

It’s just that simple.  You deserve to feel beautiful and desirable and like you are worth all the money in the world, because you are.  If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about how much doubt you have in yourself…stop.  Because you are better than that.  You’re better than these expectations that are thrown in your face.  You are beautiful because you are you.  That’s that.  That’s the end of it.  That’s the truth.  So own who you are.  Be fabulous.  Be brave.  Be you.  It’ll all be worth it in the end.