Author: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor
Taryn Brumfit is a woman who has impacted thousands of women. I am one of them. Her moving documentary movie, Embrace, should be seen by every single woman and a teenage girl in the world. It’s all about embracing who you are, just as you are. It’s about embracing your body, just as it is. This is one of my favorite quotes by Taryn:
My body is not an ornament – it’s a vehicle. – Taryn Brumfit
She has inspired me. She awoke in me the passion and the desire to spread the message that every single girl, tween, teenager or woman on this planet is beautiful. Our body is magnificent and deserves our love and praise because of all it does for us.
Fast forward a few years. I came across Zori’s call on Facebook:
“If you don’t like yourself in the mirror, then you are the woman I’ve been looking for.
Let me show you how beautiful you are!” – Zori
I decided then and there that I wanted to be part of this project, 21 Days of Real Women, in one form or another. I knew it would be beautiful, life-changing and so important.
In this article, I want to share with you 4 journeys to self-love from this project. Prepare to be moved, inspired and encouraged.
Zori – Empowering other women to love themselves
“If photographers are responsible for creating and reflecting an image of women in society, then I must say, there is only one way for the future, and this is to define women as strong and independent. This should be the responsibility of photographers today: to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection”. – Peter Lindbergh
“21 Days of Real Women” was designed with the thought of showcasing and celebrating everyday women, with their flaws and imperfections. Women, who struggle to accept the reflection in the mirror, because modern society tells them constantly, that they are not good enough… Through a series of portraits, this campaign aims to help women globally embrace and fall in love with themselves, the way they are, finding beauty in their curves. The Campaign also aims to disrupt beauty stereotypes, who say that only young, skinny women are worth being seen. Real beauty shines from within. It is not about physical appearance. We all carry that inner light. The secret is in confidence and self-love.
The idea of this Campaign was born in 2019 when I was feeling demotivated in my work as a photographer. I remembered what my mentor always said:
“When you find yourself in a place of scarcity and desperation, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, just go and create something.”
And this triggered me to give life to this project. I always wanted to create something more than just a beautiful photograph of a person. I want to create with purpose, to change lives, to start a conversation. Basically, to be of service and help to others – my way of giving back for all the beautiful things life gifted me with.
There are million reasons why women feel invisible and not beautiful. Obesity, chronic disease, bullying, miscarriage, postpartum depression, physical and psychological abuse, handicap, are only a few of those reasons. Even simply becoming and being a mother is a huge challenge, where the role of the woman being the center of her own Universe is replaced by her role as a mother and the endless sacrifices that come with it.
I am a firm believer that every woman could look fantastic and be on the cover of a Magazine if she had the same crew of professionals and stylists as celebrities and models do. And I wanted to prove this through my Campaign.
I wanted to empower women, but instead of heavily retouching their bodies and completely changing the way they look, creating a false sense of perfection, I chose to empower them by showing them their real beauty, adding a pinch of glamour.
So, I did their hair and makeup and I asked them to choose one elegant evening dress to wear for the photo shoot. The photo shoot itself was a healing therapy. The women trusted me, shared their deepest truths and painful stories. We cried and we laughed together. In return, I gave them a physical proof (portraits) of their beauty, shining from within.
To learn more about Zori or if you too would like to experience a photo shoot with her, please visit her website.
Christine – Loving herself despite chronic pain
Christine is one of the 21 women photographed for “21 days of real women” – a Phototography Project by the Lausanne based photographer Zori Art Photography. This is her inspiring story:
I wondered a lot about myself when I recently realized that my serious motorcycle accident in 1998 defined me for so many years and that I used to think my vis-à-vis should know about it. Apart from a few scars and being overweight, you can’t see my partial disabilities on the outside. Of course, like all of us, I have experienced a lot and this traffic accident really hit me hard – in the middle of my blooming life – at the age of 27. I have fought on so many fronts since then: endless insurance claims and even bullying at work when I used to be an employee.
I jumped into entrepreneurship so that I could at least set up an office with a reclining chair and lie down completely in breaks when needed. Unfortunately, when I finally felt like things were on the right track, I then had a business partner who betrayed me!
The more unfair life became, the more I fought.
Health-wise I had many setbacks. There were times where I felt nothing but pain. I had numerous surgeries, stays in rehabilitation clinics and years of physiotherapy. In 2013, I had severe nerve pain and a doctor who gave up on me.
Three operations later and a new great doctor I feel better than I have in a long time. I am still on medication, but I combine this with alternative medicine. I launched my Interior Design atelier again – this time on my own! I have never lost my crisp humour and laughter and I have never thought “why me?!”.
I always knew it can only get better!
I have learned so much, met so many great people. I learned to love and appreciate the small joys of life. I never want to lose the inner child in me … and 5 years ago, I met the love of my life.
I am sweet 49 now, happy, I love my profession and passion, I’m totally in love and I already can’t wait for the next 50 years of “me”! Life is good!
Josana – Loving her body just as it is
Josana is one of the 21 women photographed for “21 days of real women” – a Phototography Project by the Lausanne based photographer Zori Art Photography. Get ready to be moved and inspired!
In this world one disadvantage is to be born as a woman, a second is to be born in a developing country without wealthy parents, and a third one is to be born with a serious disability. I was born with it all!
When I was only 12 months old, doctors said that I was not ever going to walk due to the condition of spina bifida. This caused a serious scoliosis in my back. My very clever parents did not believe the doctors and they knew not to share this limiting belief with me! They kept treating me like any other child, and at age 3 – guess what? I started walking. By the age of 4, based on my physical appearance and not my abilities, kindergarten teachers suggested to my parents that I needed to attend a school for special needs children. My parents helped me prove to them that I could adapt just fine to a typical school program.
Being unfairly judged still happens in my daily life today. I have over-heard people saying that if they were me, they would kill themselves! Doors are often closed, and people often doubt my capacity due to my different looks and my small size. It was very clear to me from an early age that I had to fight more and go the extra mile in order to get what I wanted in life. As a teenager, I heard a famous person on the radio in Brazil saying she never saw a woman that has a disability with a university degree, a husband and a career combined. This just motivated me to do all of those things!
Unfortunately, after achieving many of my dreams, I lost my first husband in a tragic motorcycle accident in 2014. I did find love again. I was going to get married in 2020 but due to Covid 19, we have postponed our wedding to 2022. Both extraordinary men – as I would not settle for less than that.
My secret is to never think of myself as a victim and I know I can have it all, I just need to work for my dreams harder than others.
Sometimes people say I am lucky that I have so much, but every single accomplishment comes with lots of effort, never luck, I do not ever stop feeding my happiness. It takes a lot of strength to find yourself beautiful and competent while most of the world only stares at your flaws, but it is an important strength we all have within ourselves, and it moves mountains!
I juggle many balls now and am a force to be reckoned with. During lockdown, I started a project really close to my heart, a platform to support small local businesses in Switzerland, called Swiss Delivery. It’s a fantastic resource and I really believe in supporting each other in the current times.
Ann – Learning to love her curvy body
Ann is one of the 21 women photographed for “21 days of real women” – a Phototography Project by the Lausanne based photographer Zori Art Photography. Get ready to be moved and inspired!
The earliest memory I have of feeling inadequate physically and “too big” goes back to when I was 5. My gran, whom I hardly ever saw because we lived in Africa at the time, was telling my Mum that I was a bit too chubby for my age. As I continued to get older, such comments continued to come from the adults in my life. They were deeply hurtful. They created and deepened the limiting belief that I was not enough. That I didn’t measure up to what I should be: slimmer.
As a result, I hated parts of my body for most of my life. As a child I didn’t understand why I had to change. I just wanted to be loved exactly as I was. I was loved, but encouraged to “make an effort”, “exercise more”, “try this diet”.
Unfortunately, I continued to view myself through this lens as I became a young woman and an adult. I brought this limiting belief into my marriage, (mis)interpreting some of the things my husband said or didn’t say. It was a vicious circle.
In 2016, having gone through two bouts of postnatal depression, suffering from chronic anxiety and very low self-esteem, I came across a training that teaches empowering tools using the mind and body connection to improve happiness, health, and well-being. I was so desperate to get my life back and to feel “normal” that I went on this three-day training course.
It completely changed my life. Gone was the depression. Gone was the anxiety. I now understood that the comments coming from adults in my life were not meant to harm, in fact these adults meant well. I was able to forgive and forget. My self-esteem and self-love have slowly improved, but it took longer and more NLP-based tools to get where I am today: I love most of my body. I am grateful for my body and everything it has done and still does for me. I am uniquely and beautifully made, just as everyone is.
The photo shoot with Zori was the next step on my journey to self-love. My dream is that every woman will love herself just as she is without caring what anyone else says. And I want to say that it’s possible!
My hope is that this article encouraged you today. That if you haven’t yet embraced your body, that you will take a step forward in that direction. And if these stories have helped you, please share them with other women. We all need to hear this message. I will leave you with the last quote from Taryn Brumfit:
Don’t waste a single day of your life being at war with your body. Just embrace it. – Taryn Brumfit
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