Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. – Judy Garland

I’ve spent a good portion of my life wondering what it would be like to be someone else. I used to think this made me odd, but over time I have come to realize that it is just a byproduct of what I have experienced in life. With that said, it has taken me years upon years to get to where I am today, and while I try to be a confident person I am beginning to realize that I am very vulnerable.

Yesterday I received a message on Facebook that simply stated “You look very unprofessional.” The antagonist in me wanted to rip them a new one, but the sensible part of me made the decision to block them. I can’t say that I’m not hurt. While I realize that I am not everyone’s “cup of tea”, what gave this person the right to openly comment on my appearance? Whatever happened to the good ole saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all?”

I understand that I look different. I’m not your average photographer. I have multiple tattoos, piercings, and I have a shaved head. I wear leggings and combat boots. My favorite color is black. I’m not good at marketing, and I’ll never do sales. But I do my best to look presentable, and give the best images I possibly can.

We think that once we leave school things will change, but the simple fact of the matter is we live in a world where people are going to judge you. It…never…stops. There are people out there that are so miserable that they want to bring you down to their level, and you have to be strong enough not to allow it to happen. Sometimes I’m strong enough, sometimes I’m not…and yesterday was a moment of weakness.

You see…I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery for over two years. Two years ago I was 400+lbs and very unhappy within myself. I hated how I looked and hated who I was. I had lost myself in the years of misery spent dwelling on the past and I didn’t know who I was outside of being a mother. I didn’t know how I wanted to dress, and the amount of negativity that came out of my mouth was purely toxic. I hated everyone and I hated everything.

Fast forward to now and I am finally starting to discover who I am. I am down to 262lbs, which in a lot of minds is still morbidly obese…but considering the fact that I used to weigh as much as I did I have decided to take pride in every step that I take rather than dwell on how much farther I could go. I’ve went from yoga pants and oversized shirts to making an attempt to look presentable to the outside world. You would be surprised how limited your wardrobe can be when you’re over 400+lbs, and now that I can wear clothes I find cute I’m taking every opportunity to utilize them.

I suppose I could grow out my hair and take out the piercings to appease the masses, but then I would just be whittling away who I am. You see…every bit of my body art whether it be piercings or ink, tells my story. It may be a story only I know, but its there…for the whole world to see. I like being who I am now. I may still have negative thoughts, and I may still suffer from my PTSD, depression, and anxiety….but I’m no longer the toxic person I once was. I can thank Paganism and Buddha for that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish people would look past the black and white. There is a whole gray world out there waiting to come into view. I’m not alone. Almost everyone knows someone like me….tattooed, pierced, struggling to find their way. Instead of tearing them down take a moment to build them up. You don’t have to agree with their views or even like their appearance…but they are people too.

Be the change you wish to see in this world.

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