Being Body Positive Doesn't Mean Perfect

Within my Vancouver portrait photography business, my presence in social media and the overall scope of things, I often tout that I am a “body positivity activist”. I identify myself as an entrepreneur who is driven by helping other women to feel beautiful within their own skin. I share tips on how to build confidence, how to best engage in self care and how to overcome.

Chelsey Luren Portraits - Self Portrait by Vancouver Portrait Photographer Chelsey Luren Dixon

But in all honesty, the reality of that can be something entirely different.

Yes there are glimpses, and days, or even weeks, where I feel that I am a gladiator. That I am a power house able of conquering the world. However the fact of the matter is that I have not been on my A game in a long while now. I have been struggling with a plethora of things.

Near relapses in my age old eating disorder. Depressions. Panic attacks on a near daily basis (Anybody else ever get woken up at 2am by one?). Insomnia. Burnout. The sting to my ego when I have to say, “I’m not fine”.

Vancouver Body Positive Glamour and Boudoir Photographer - Chelsey Luren Portraits.jpg

I debated whether or not to share this and questioned whether vulnerability was the best course of action. 

“Would my audience and the women I connect with think less of me for struggling?” 
“Would I drop a rung, or 30, as a business woman for not being able to perfectly live up to the brand message I was once so deeply rooted in?”

And the truth is this:

My ability to get honest can only help the women in my community. My vulnerability helps to show others how to do it, how to ask for help, how to say “No, I’m not fine”.

Yes, there are going to be those who think I have dropped innumerable rungs and have lost my credibility as a source of positive mental health with my confession. And maybe that’s true.

But I believe that I am here to show the world that if I can recuperate and get myself to where I want to be by being vulnerable, then so can you. 

Being body positive doesn’t mean that there are not times where I feel like I look terrible and hate X or Y about my body. Being body positive means that you keep pushing through those emotions and feelings regardless.

Chelsey Luren Portraits Vancouver Glamour Portrait Photography Studio.jpg

Along with getting vulnerable, I wanted to share some hope for those who also experience the same range of things I’d rather not live with. 

These are some of the things I do to help get me grounded and have helped me to move back into a place of acceptance, creativity and grounded mental health:

Chelsey Luren Portraits - Vancouver Glamour Photographer Chelsey Luren Dixon
  1. Make self care a priority. This has to happen in order to be able to begin shifting how you feel.

    What do you love to do that makes you feel amazing? Is it a bubble bath? Sitting with a good book? Knitting? Whatever it is, make the time for it. This is not selfish. Without putting that fuel into the tank, there is nothing to give to others.

    Repeat after me: “Self care is not selfish” Now go and that massage you really need.
  2. Get more sleep. This is a tough one for someone who has insomnia. But setting a sleep routine. It’s amazing how different a bleak feeling or situation can look after a solid rest.
  3. Journal. With an anxiety disorder, I find that my thoughts move too fast to really be able to make sense of them. Getting everything down on paper helps me to figure out what I’m really feeling and decipher my thoughts better.
  4. Gratitude journalling. Spend 5 minutes everyday thinking deeply about the things that you’re grateful for, and write them down. It can be the worst day possible (Like being woken up in the middle of a panic attack), but there is always something to have gratitude for. Shift the focus to something good and really savour the happiness that is attached to being thankful.
  5. Exercise. There are a multitude of scientific studies that show the benefit of exercising for mental health. No matter how much you don’t want to, it will help
  6. Talk to someone. Reach out, get the support and help that you need. There is no shame in asking for help. Recognize that it takes far more effort and strength to get help than it does to trudge the mire and muck on your own.
  7. Be photographed. I cannot emphasize how much this has shifted my own perspective during the times when the voice of self hate gets loud. 

    Yes, I am a portrait photographer. But this genuinely has changed my perspective and the perspective of so many other women.
Don’t believe me ladies? Get in my private Facebook group and ask some past clients yourself.

Thank you to those in my life (especially my amazing husband, Tyler) who have been there for me over the past few months while I get myself back to centre. 

- XOXO, Chelsey