Last time I got pictures taken (for marketing, etc.) I was at the end of a 12-week cut. I’m incredibly proud of the work and discipline I put in. It was at a time in my life when I was trying to reclaim my power and it worked amazingly well (NOT a long-term coping mechanism.)

I wanted to work with uber-talented Kacey Col because her style is dramatic, dark, and dare-I-say sexy. I needed some new pics, but I was smack dab in the middle of training for this powerlifting meet, so dieting was out of the question. I was legitimately worried that I wasn’t going to like any of the images because I wasn’t “lean enough.”

I know I am not even remotely “overweight,” but like it or not, this industry puts a ton of pressure on us to look a certain way. Selfies are *literally* my most-liked posts. But this is an image-based social media platform; it’s the name of the game and I play it. We all want to see pretty things. But the thing about getting praised for your appearance when that’s not REALLY what you look like is this— you start to believe people won’t like you if they see the real you.

I liked my post-cut abs and feeling “small” (yup, still struggle with this), but I was so damn weak and lethargic. Here, I am still lean, but more muscular and fuller. And I actually like the way I look more.

It’s tempting to discredit insecurities in people we perceive as aesthetically-pleasing. Of those we feel don’t deserve to have insecurities. And if you‘re fuckable enough, you aren’t invited to the body positivity movement. Unless of course you earn credibility by posting pictures of your cellulite, pandering to be validated as “normal.” You can’t fucking win.

I was considered “big” all the way through adolescence, and I can confirm that I’m treated wayyy better now that I’m “smaller.” No doubt— if you are perceived as attractive, you enjoy more privilege. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar. But beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.

I guarantee you I don’t look like this when I wake up. But I feel powerful, strong, and beautiful when I see it… the hard work I put in at the gym when I’m NOT starving. And that is a huge deal for me.