Stripped

P.C.: Angelica Glass

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As I sit here typing this, I have no makeup on my face other than some leftover eyeliner from yesterday and a sweep of shadow on my brows. I’m in a tee shirt and sweats, my hair is wet, and for the first time, in a very long time (perhaps ever), I feel free.

Feeling free has been a process. A big one. It started with realizing that my emotional vulnerability was the key to a number of things: my personal happiness, my professional success, and my connection with others. Most of us grew up in a world where we were taught to get in line. To put our own desires aside and do what you’re “supposed to.” Robot mode, as I call it. Go to school, graduate college, get a good job with a 401k, buy a house, have a few kids, and maybe if you’re lucky, take a vacation once a year. Those are the things we are taught to value. But the things that truly count, like self-expression, authenticity, and creativity, are thwarted somewhere right after high school. I think this is why so many of us look back at those years with such great nostalgia. Because for a lot of us, that was the last time we were celebrated for truly being ourselves.

Being committed to my own self-expression is something that has always been a priority for me. Even while working my corporate job at MTV, I built this blog, wrote 3 out of my 4 books, and created and nurtured my own personal brand. Although I was technically “held back” by my day job, I knew in the back of my mind it wasn’t forever. I knew I had more to give to the world. I used my paycheck to fund my passion and I worked like a dog to leave that world behind and build my own.

That type of freedom came somewhat easily to me. I felt drawn to being myself. I felt strong and secure in my voice. The one thing I did not feel strong and secure in, however, was my body.

If you’ve read any my books or this blog, you know that my struggle with my body image has been a lifelong journey. I joined Weight Watchers for the first time at 11 years old, and that launched 20+ years of disordered eating and a deeply complicated relationship with myself and my body. I talked a bit more about this in my last post (you can catch up here if you want to).

The good news is though, is that relationship has been changing for the better. It’s been a slow change, but it feels real this time. It’s not based on the high of a 10 pound weight loss or the fact that I can fit into a 29 inch waist pair of jeans. It’s a true, hard-earned, multifaceted change. It’s the result of a shit load of inside work that has resulted in a great change on the outside. And it became especially evident for me about two weeks ago when I did a photo shoot for my new website launch.

It was a sunny Sunday morning, the entire contents of my apartment and my life were literally everywhere. I was set to move in 2 days, so things were a bit crazy. Boxes overflowing with pots and pans, piles of clothes ready for donation, and the only room in tact was Champagne Diet HQ, better known as my den. I stood in a pair of shiny American Apparel leggings, a leather blazer, and my hair perfectly blown out as my dear friends Angelica and Tara rang my doorbell. Angelica, a phenomenal professional photographer, had agreed to shoot my “reband” photos and Tara came along to help me pick out outfits and offer moral support.

Within 15 minutes, Angelica started snapping away as I posed near my desk. My Pandora “girl band rock” station was playing softly in the background, and Tara occasionally tucked a few pieces of hair behind my ear as I slowly and meticulously turned my face to capture various angles. I felt uptight, as I usually do, when people are looking at me.

We moved to the couch where I went through a few more scenarios like writing in my agenda and pretending to sip my coffee. You know, the things you’re supposed to do when you’re an author and a life coach. “This will be great for my About section!” I remember saying. But all I could hope was that I didn’t have a fat roll when sitting down and that Angelica could Photoshop my double chin if I wasn’t sticking my neck out enough. The negative self-talk that went on that first hour was out of fucking control.

A few moments later, I saw the two of them chatting. “Can we do something?” Tara asked.

“Like what?” I responded nervously.

“I just wanna mess up your hair a little.”

Suddenly Rihanna was blasting, my hair was piled on top of my head in a messy bun, and I was being directed to stand against the wall. Tara snapped off her bra and handed it to me. “Put this on.”

“But this is a business shoot! I can’t be in a bra!” I argued.

Suddenly a wave of panic rushed over me as I whipped my shirt off. I felt exposed. Even though they were my best friends, I still feared being judged. But I knew if I didn’t do this, I would never move past these hurdles I built in my mind.

So I checked my fucks at the door and followed their direction. And it was the most empowering and liberating thing I’ve done — maybe ever.

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I realized in those moments that I am an author and a life coach, but as I always preach to you ladies, I’m a woman first. I’m not perfect. I sometimes have a double chin or a little fat roll. But I am happy, I am healthy, and I am finally confident. And it felt damn good to celebrate that.

When I got the photos back, I intended to keep the more “stripped down” ones for myself and only share the “appropriate” ones with all of you. But that would go against everything I believe. I believe being appropriate is being truthful and authentic. And I believe that sharing the moments where we can overcome things like insecurity and fear is one of the most exceptional things you can do in this life.

So here I am. Free. Proud. Stripped. And finally embracing the fact that when we learn to take off the things we don’t want to carry anymore, life gets a hell of a lot better.

With love,
Cara

PS – If you’d like to book a session with Angelica, check her out here.

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  • Veronica Farfan
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    This post just made me tear up; girl, you are so inspiring AND beautiful!

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