The Decision To Go Out Of My Comfort Zone
I was following The Pouting Room on Facebook and watched in awe as the first Brand Ambassadors (2020) shared their journeys, especially amidst the pandemic. The pictures were amazing and the stories even better. I was inspired, and when the applications for the 2021 Brand Ambassadors posted, I was curious. Could I do this? I think I want to do this, but immediately, the doubts set in. The same ones I’ve battled throughout my life…I’m too heavy, I’m out of shape, I’m too pale. I need to lose weight first, get in shape, and get some sun. But from somewhere deep within, a voice said “What if you are perfectly imperfect and you are meant to do this?” What if I get chosen? What if I don’t? I wasn’t sure which was more terrifying, but I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t try.
After quite an internal battle, I answered the call and applied, taking it as a challenge to embrace a softer side of myself and not be afraid to show what women can do. On a personal level, I needed to love myself and my body. I needed to let go of the image of “perfect”. This is where my story began.
Each photo shoot brought up a new personal barrier. First, the body acceptance shoot, I was just nervous, doubting my sanity and why in the world would I do this. Could I go through with it? But, the second my words were painted on my body, I felt empowered. I felt strong and brave. I didn’t want to wash those words off.
My personal photo session was the second. I was convinced that I wouldn’t like any of the pictures of myself, and when I had my reveal, I sobbed. “That’s me?” It helped me to see my own beauty and challenged me to really look at why I liked some of the pictures and why I didn’t like some. It was an amazing lesson in self-awareness.
The third was our angel shoot, which I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited about, and I can tell it in my pictures. The important realization, my attitude can make or break any experience for me, and sometimes, being witness to someone else’s experience is the fun part.
When we had our beach day, I had to challenge a long held belief that I struggle making and maintaining female friendships. I have to say, that belief was busted wide open, and that day at the beach is one of my favorite days of the entire year (all parts of my life included).
The October group shoot was just so damn fun, as evidenced by the pictures, as I just embraced the moment. But later that day, I found myself in a personal hell fighting long held insecurities regarding my worth and my relationships. The way this manifests itself for me is in embarrassment and shame, and I’m still working through this one. However, my beautiful friends held a safe space for me, and I will be eternally grateful for that.
Finally, my body paint shoot was the perfect way to wrap-up this experience for me. It began and ended with body paint, and of course there was a lesson here too. I loved the concept, and I had great fun during the photo shoot and thought the pictures turned out great. When I shared some of the pictures with a friend, they didn’t like them at all! Immediately I felt ashamed but quickly, I realized, we all have different reactions to art. There may be a photo that moves me that does nothing for you. Same with a painting or a song, it’s what moves you that matters, and most importantly, your experience does not need to be dictated or moderated by anyone else.
The Powerful Take Away
Now as the year wraps up, I realize how much this experience has paralleled experiences in my personal life. I’ve learned that my story can inspire and encourage other women as so many people have reached out to me about their personal experiences with body acceptance and self-worth and what a privilege to know their stories. I had to establish boundaries with people who automatically sexualized the images. I believe women are inherently sexy, but I also believe we are intelligent, brave, strong, resilient, playful, and funny, and we deserve to be respected for all of it. I found my voice!
I’ve made new friends and connections and gained confidence to reach out to other groups of women (not as scary as I made it out to be). Finally, self-improvement is a never ending process. I gained 20 pounds from March to November. Honestly, I thought my commitment to do this would motivate me to lose weight (old beliefs die hard). Instead, I’ve discovered grace and self-compassion for where I am. A lot of life has happened this year, and what I have come to know is that sleep, stress relief, and healthy relationships are invaluable to overall health and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Thank you for letting me share my story and letting me be witness to yours. It has been an honor and privilege. Thank you, Stefanie, for your vision, talent, encouragement and friendship. Thank you for choosing me to represent you this year! Thank you, Tracey, for listening to my secrets, for transforming my beauty through your talents and for the laughs…even if I ruined my make-up laughing tears.
Karen and Laurie, there’s no one else that I can imagine having shared this journey with. You each brought your own personality and beauty to each one of our group sessions, and my life is better for knowing you both. Thank you for your friendship, your encouragement, and your fierceness. Becca and Tracy, you inspired me with your stories last year. Thank you for encouraging and supporting us throughout the year. I am so grateful to know you.
Don’t be afraid to answer the call. May you embrace all parts of you this year!!!
~ Carrie 2021 Brand Ambassador