When I received Samantha’s email, I was humbled. It read, “Since being diagnosed with Leukemia this past December, I have been very bitter towards pictures. I have HATED having my picture taken because my body has changed so much physically, BUT I’m learning to embrace it as it is now and capture life as it is now. I want to have something to look back on.”
Whoa. I know that body acceptance is something that so many of us struggle with. Insecurities, hate, and self-rejection often replace confidence, love, and acceptance. I’ll be the first to admit that maintaining a positive body image has been a struggle for me since I was a little girl, it’s something I believe the Lord is refining in me over and over again the more that I surrender it to Him.
But then, here is this beautiful girl, Samantha. Her body has been attacked by cancer, she has lost hair & gained weight as a byproduct of fighting back with chemotherapy & steroids & other treatments, and she is finding a way to love and celebrate her body in the midst of the fight. Its strength and its beauty.
We chatted on the phone before our session together and sat in my living room talking the day of our shoot. It was a gift to listen to her story as she shared the raw emotion & struggles of this past year battling cancer, as well as the JOY and the HOPE she has found in something (or Someone) so much greater. If you have battled insecurities with your body or if you have face hardship that have shaken the ground you stand on, Samantha’s story is for you.
And who better to tell it, then her herself? She started a blog called Living Your Best Life, where she so sweetly and candidly shares her experience. These are some of my favorite excerpts from her last blog:
“Can I tell you a secret? You, yes YOU. You are so very beautiful. God created us all so different and uniquely on purpose! It’s hard to believe, I know. Trust me, I have a toooon of insecurities. Especially right now, because I mean, after having to take 100mg of steroids for a month straight it changed my body drastically. Oh and did I mention chemo makes you lose your hair? I’ve lost mine TWICE. Yes, I’ve cried. A LOT.
However, you know what I’ve been trying to do? Embrace my body and accept who I am on this journey. We all go through different seasons of life, some we love, and some that maybe won’t leave the best memories. Let me tell you… you can cry about it or you can find the beauty in the midst of the storm. (Or do both because I sure did.) I cried for a long time over gaining weight because none of my clothes fit, and I have stretch marks in places I didn’t think was possible, and I’m bald, I have chubby cheeks, a flat butt. The body I worked so hard for for several years was gone in a month. Now that I’m done crying and feeling sorry for myself I can finally be free and be happy and know that I am beautiful in God’s eyes. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. It took me a LONG time to accept my body and while yes, I can’t wait to start working out again, I am going to work out in a completely different way… a much healthier way.
I’m done crying over all my insecurities, I know you can relate… I’m not this size, I don’t make this much money, my body doesn’t look perfect, my instagram has to look like I’m living this perfect life. BE YOU. LOVE YOU for who YOU are because God made you and He loves you for you. When you feel lost and like you have no one, God is there waiting for you to cry out to Him.
It’s hard being vulnerable. It’s hard showing people your weak side. I definitely struggle with that. It’s hard loving yourself in every way possible, but finding peace with where you are in this certain time in life will bring you so much joy. You can finally see all the beauty and blessings around you!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. “ Psalm 139:14 (NIV)”
I am honored that Samantha asked me & trusted me to capture this season of here life. When I asked her, she said she wanted her photos to capture joy, confidence, & fun. And I believe we accomplished that together!! If her story encouraged you, let her know in the comments below. And if you’d like to learn more about her story and her hope, check out her blog Living Your Best Life.