You Are Beautiful

by Stefani on 17-August-2009

Body Image. 

Bluh.

Suffice it to say that these days I'm feeling a lot less like illustrator George Petty's Marilyn-esque curves and a whole lot MORE like the loose sketchy irregularities of Quentin Blake

For Better Or Worse

I'm not feeling comfortable in my own skin anymore. I don't need to be young. I appreciate the love and memories that have gone into the making of this body. I don't need to be super model thin. I love pie altogether too much for such nonsense. 

But I DO need to feel comfortable, like the me that I know and love, and I don't. 

I avoid meeting people in real life because of it. There I said it. 

I've been asked to speak to a room full of women in November and it terrifies me. Can't I just write them all a nice letter? 

But this weekend I saw something that has me rethinking my position on this silly old wonderful skin of mine. 

Do you know Stephanie Nielson? She's a sweet, caring mom with an eye for life's simple beauty. She's funny and smart and endearing. In the last year she has proven that a hundred times over. 

A year ago this past weekend she was in a terrible plane crash. She suffered very serious burns and has spent the last 12 months inching her way, climbing her way, back into herself. 

I can't begin to imagine. 

This weekend she finally posted a photo of herself. I know that it must have taken so much courage to do it, but I'm so glad that she did. She is the living image of beauty and triumph and inspiration. 

As are you. 

As am I. 

It sounds so silly. So terribly cliche, but I believe it to be true. In our own ways, within the pages of our own stories, we are really all so beautiful, aren't we. 

Kate August 18, 2009 at 12:11 am

We really are. And NieNie is a living, breathing example of true beauty. I totally started to cry seeing her picture, not just for the mixed bag of emotions it conjured up, for the sheer volume of courage that woman possesses. I was humbled.

And reminded that beauty comes in all kinds of packages.

Visty Lindgren August 18, 2009 at 12:12 am

We are. Yesterday I was lamenting a medication-induced weight gain that is getting the better of me, and my almost 12 year old son said to me that he likes that I’m soft, because it’s good for hugging. Children are seers.

briar August 18, 2009 at 2:59 am

thanks for the reminder Stephanie…NieNie is a remarkable, strong woman, and an awesome example of what should be striven for! I am veryoverweight, but my body has housed, nutured and given birth to 4 beautful children…its a work in progress to get back what was mine (not flash to start with!)….our bodies are made to give love and life- I try to embrace that every time I look in the mirror. xx

tara August 18, 2009 at 4:03 am

I did see Stephanie’s picture she posted and I thought… how brave. Her eyes hold all the beauty and hope in her heart. She is an inspiration.

Angela August 18, 2009 at 4:06 am

Yesterday I saw NieNie’s post, and I think you just summed up what was in my heart.

brandy August 18, 2009 at 4:24 am

I feel so much like you…As I was reading your post, I kept thinking “me too!”. I am 5.5 mo. pregnant and concerned with weight gain…..And then you posted that link. I have not heard of NieNie. But what an eye and soul opener. Thank you so much for giving me some much needed perspective this morning. She is beautiful. And an inspiration.

minnesota:madre August 18, 2009 at 5:39 am

I know. Nie Nie’s picture really got me thinking, too. Also, cliche, but a good reminder that our soul is what is most important and shines most brightly and importantly.

Hannah August 18, 2009 at 6:26 am

I kinda wondered.

And yes, I saw that photo and have been thinking about it a lot. I tried to explain to my husband but he’ll just have to see it. I love the quote she posted with it. I’m thinking her experience of the past year has given her and everyone around her a new outlook on beauty — well, including us, actually. What courage.

Mary-- The Yellow Door Paperie August 18, 2009 at 6:31 am

I feel the same way, children have taken their toll on my body and I haven’t had the courage to accept it the way it is or, to get back what I want it to look like.

I too had a similar ephaipany after seeing Stephanie. She is so beautiful, but I know how insecure she feels about her image, she talks about it often. We should all be so brave.

Myrnie August 18, 2009 at 7:11 am

I was so proud of her for posting that photo- she is an extraordinarily beautiful woman, inside and out. As are you!

Hannah August 18, 2009 at 7:28 am

More thoughts, since my last comment.

I think the main thing that attracts people to NieNie and her blog is her love for her family and the joy she takes in daily life with them.

Likewise, we don’t come to your blog because we care what you look like. Your creativity, the effort you put into raising and learning alongside your boys, your sense of humor — all these things make you beautiful to us (and no doubt, to them and your husband).

I am a skinny girl (genetics), but I admit that I often wish I could do the things you do!

So I think you should do the talk in November and remember why people will be coming to hear you — because you have something to say that is of value to them, and because they admire your true beauty.

Natalie August 18, 2009 at 7:46 am

Thank you.

Cassandra August 18, 2009 at 8:03 am

Amen, sister.

melissa August 18, 2009 at 8:39 am

NieNie has a sparkle in her eye and joy. That is beauty. Every new day is a beautiful day.
And Stephanie, I’ve seen you, (pictures, anyway). You’re gorgeous and vivacious.

greta August 18, 2009 at 8:47 am

OH yes, yes yes. I thought the very same thing. I found her blog, don’t know how, and have been reading it faithfully for a while now. That picture last night made me wonder if I have the even a smidgen of the courage, and strength she has. What an amazing woman she is. I am glad you shared her story. It has really made an even greater impact on my heart and thoughts than she already has.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power.”
May we all live in His power rather than in our fear.
Love from Greta

laurel Sauls August 18, 2009 at 9:11 am

You know, I just gave birth ten days ago, and have definitely been feeling anything but beautiful. Not five minutes after I was whining to my hubby about being “fat forever”, I clicked on NieNie and saw that picture. And I cried. Because she IS so beautiful. And I am appalled at my own vanity in the face of what she has/is enduring. It was a great wake up call.

Elissa August 18, 2009 at 9:52 am

while i think it is good to be healthy and healthily comfortable in our own skin, i think it is far more important to be grateful for the skin that we have and the life within that skin! thank you for that important reminder.

this little light August 18, 2009 at 10:29 am

She is an amazing woman. I really can’t stop thinking about her. What strength.

amy August 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm

thanks – been thinking this too- tears. thanks. xo

jodie August 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Amen!

Dianne @ sheepdreams August 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I, too, struggle with not being completely comfortable with my body. I have not put any pictures of myself on my blog because of that issue. But, then, I try to remind myself that I don’t choose my friends by what they look like or how much they weigh. Reading Stephanie’s blog has definitely reminded me that who we really are shines through…no matter what our external appearance.

Abi August 18, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I spent a good portion of last night staring at Stephanie’s eyes and looking back through her archives. I was silent and incredibly moved. Physically her change is drastic but as I read back and forth I came to the conclusion that she is very much still the same, strong, beautiful, sexy and warm woman that we all loved to read even before the crash. Her life has changed but her core, her center, her self is so strong that it really doesn’t matter what the vessel she is traveling through this life looks like.

I agree. It was very much an epiphany for me and a reminder to focus more on what makes me truly happy so that joy can shine through whatever my physical self may be.

Lia August 18, 2009 at 6:33 pm

You are beautiful, Stefani. And so is NieNie. It is hard to see it in ourselves, especially after putting on some weight. This summer I’ve realized that clothes that fit and show off my curves while hiding my lumps and bumps, make a HUGE difference in my self-confidence, which in turn makes me pretty (or prettier I guess I should say).

Anyway, as a very wise 13 year old girl I know says, “Just own it!” And oddly enough it’s true. I haven’t lost one – single – pound this summer (even though I’ve worked out 5 days a week), but I have had more compliments than I’ve had in years, just becuase I feel more confident.

By the way, my fave outfits are a t-shirt skit from Old Navy and loose, yet fitted racer-back tanks from Target. And a racer-back bra does wonders for the boobs.

nancy b August 18, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I do not understand why we are hardwired to hate ourselves as we are. NieNie’s story is a good reminder that we do not need a mirror or smaller dress size to prove we are beautiful!

The Lazy Dazy August 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Thank you for your candid transparency and courage. You are an inspiration, as is NieNie.

Mister Dad August 19, 2009 at 4:33 pm

i love how kids view beauty. THEY get it.

i’m forever amazed that truly beautiful people doubt countless friends– and often strangers– perceptions. of talents, as well. NieNie goes beyond proof of that.

and from the llllooooonnnnngggggg list of comments, i’m glad you took a moment to see yourself as we see ya, little sister.

Kelly August 20, 2009 at 5:10 am

Beautiful post and wonderful gathering of perspective,
hugs ~

Erin | house on hill road August 20, 2009 at 5:34 am

You are beautiful. Don’t forget it.

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:05 am

Aw, sweet fella. I tell myself all the time that I’m just helping my men to have a realistic image of the female form 🙂

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:08 am

Oh Brandy! Don’t fret over your weight now. Just revel in that baby-making! I don’t think a body is ever more beautiful than it is when it’s holding new life…. and hey, my three pregnancies were the only time in my whole dang life that I had a nice hard tummy!

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:10 am

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Hannah. Maybe you’ll have to come out to my November talk and give me a good pep talk and then a shove onto the stage, okay? I can’t believe it, but I actually agreed to do it!

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:11 am

🙂 I think that might be the best thing I’ve ever been called.. I mean you know, besides “fluffy mama”
Vivacious. I might have t-shirt made.
Thanks, friend.

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:14 am

Oh I think your young lady is so right! I know several women who don’t fit the tall and thin bill, but they are gorgeous and sassy and sexy because they OWN it!

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:15 am

Can I just tell you that I love it when Mister Dad shows up in these parts? Thanks for that… and for your kindness. 🙂

Stefani August 21, 2009 at 6:18 am

Erin! Hellooooooo!
Thank you, friend. Thank you.

Lisa Clarke August 21, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I totally know how you feel 🙂

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