We need a higher resolution photo so we asked for the uncropped version. She gave it to us, but requested we crop in for a torso-up presentation.

Every woman reading that knows the hidden message: Please, do not run a full body shot of me.

Every woman has been taught to hate their body.

I look at the photo again and I think she is stunning. She has a beautiful smile and soft, friendly face that you just know would bust into a loud laugh after a glass of wine or two at the bar with girlfriends.

She looks so soft and comforting. The kind of friend who, when she hugs you, envelopes you. You can sink into her and feel safe and warm.

I look at the photo again and I see a beautiful, voluptuous, accomplished woman. She looks kind and fun.

But, I get it. I’m a girl, too. I know what has been done to us.

I can barely stand to see photos of myself. I delete most of them. I cringe when I see full-body shots. Ugh. Rolls here. Sagging skin here. Thin, fly-away hair that never looks right. What the hell with the wrinkles on my NECK now? (WTF!?)

We’ve been taught to see the beauty in everyone but ourselves.

I wonder if people see photos of me—the same photos I cringe at, the same photos I can’t bear to look at myself—and see something other than what I see—the extra pounds, wrinkles, and shitty hair. What if they think I’m beautiful just the way I am and I keep telling them they are wrong?

What if I just decided that I was beautiful, too, with all of my fat and flaws and imperfections, just as gorgeous as all the women I admire and love not despite of but actually because of their imperfections — their messy, honest lives and bodies.

We actually can just decide to do that, you know?

It’s a radical notion, actually.  The ultimate “up yours” to the system that has, for our entire lives, told us we are not good enough and maybe if we tried harder, took better care of ourselves, bought more products or more expensive clothes, smiled more, ran more miles, or—for the love of God—stopped aging, we’ve be worthy of taking up more space.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.

“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”