I want to tell you a story of Self-Approval.
The year I turned 60, I was invited to contribute to a book project a friend was working on. She was compiling photos and stories of women who have found tremendous benefit in using yoga and meditation to transform and heal their lives and asked me to tell mine. The book was never published yet the experience was extraordinary.
Before saying yes, I learned that the photos would be black and white nudes. Beautiful photos done with sensitivity and artistically. Nevertheless, photos of me totally in the buff and in yoga poses was just a bit intimidating. At the same time, the idea felt risky, slightly dangerous, and deliciously mischievous (she says with a smirk on her face even now!).
My friend and the photographer were preparing for the shoot when I arrived at the yoga studio. It was a hot July afternoon, and the low soft lighting in the studio felt like sweet relief from the outside world. Sweaty palms, I went into the changing area, removed my clothes, and put on a robe. Deep breath, I entered the studio.
When I stepped out of the changing area, we three chatted for a minute about what we would do. Then, it was time. Time to drop the robe.
That initial moment of exposure took away my breath. I could feel fear and embarrassment flooding my body in this expansive space with nowhere to hide. As we progressed with the photos, my friend guiding me into poses and the photographer clicking away, I began to relax. At this point, they’d seen it all anyway.
Before we completed the shoot, the photographer asked me to take a look at a few of the photos. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but when I did, I wept. The images were stunning. I was stunning. I saw my body through the eyes of another who had no reservations about any of it. I saw beauty, strength, and courage and she was me.
Like many women (maybe most women) I had not had a great relationship with my body up until this point. We are so very programmed to find fault rather than appreciation for ourselves based on some narrow definition of what is beautiful and acceptable. I don’t fit that definition. In those moments, I realized I had my own definition and it too was beautiful.
This was the beginning of real self-approval. Of making peace with my body. No more shaming myself. No more comparison. No more believing I should be thinner, prettier, less of this, or more of that.
There was nothing between me and me. Nothing to hide behind. Every perceived flaw visible. Every insecurity exposed. And, at that moment, I realized I didn’t have to be anything but what I am to approve of myself. Period.
Self-approval is sexy. When I look at those photos now, that’s what I see. A sexy, beautiful, whole, imperfectly perfect woman who falls in love with herself over and over again.
I don’t need anyone’s permission, approval, or disapproval to approve of and love me. I don’t need to fix anything, to try to be good, or nice, or better. I am already the best version of myself. So are you.
You don’t need to have nude photos taken to experience the power of getting naked and stepping into the self-approval so many of us crave and deserve. The power of getting naked, with yourself, is more about shedding all the ways in which you think you are not enough, not your best self so that you can see the raw, naked beauty that you are.
Getting naked with yourself is letting go of the doubt, the judgment, the criticism, the comparison, and embracing the whole of yourself just as you are in this moment. To see yourself through the lens of love and compassion, because you, beautiful woman, are the beginning and end of everything you want to be.
I’m teaching The Art of Self-Approval this August. You can enroll here.
I promise you won’t have to take off your clothes 😉…unless you want to…no judgment here! XO