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I am a big woman and have always felt a little out of place in today's society and maybe even a little ashamed of being who I am. Recently, I had the chance to pose for a nude painting by a well-known artist. This is what I went through after he was done.

We leaned the finished painting up against a wall in a private room and he let me sit alone with my image. I kept looking at her, the woman in the painting, the curves, the heaviness, the form, the shape of her hips, belly, and arms. I saw the bright yellow colors emanating from the top of the painting and realized how bright and bubbly her aura appeared. I kept uttering the same phrase over and over again, "This is me. This is the real me."

Suddenly I began weeping. Something poured out from my spirit that I hadn't even known was there. Suddenly I saw my real self in the picture and I realized how absolutely beautiful I was. In that moment I was not trying to be anything other than what I am. My curves, my bulk, my build all exposed to the world without the complimentary smile that I always try to use to cover up my embarrassment about how big I am. My roundness put out there for all to see, without the sexual overtones that I have used in the past to distract from the fact that I am bigger than most women.

I looked at that painting and fell in love with the woman that I am, sitting there so peacefully, gazing off into the distance, my arm above my head, my posture saying, "I'm OK."

I looked at that painting and from the deepest parts of my soul I realized that I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I feel like I have come out of a prison. A prison of lies and negativity that had crusted over my heart with the idea that just because I am big, I'm not quite right. I feel like I have been let out of a trap. A trap that was forcing me to see myself as something to be ashamed of, something to change, something not worthy of love. I feel like I am free.

I look at the painting and I love that woman. That woman, that anonymous woman, is full and ripe, and peaceful. That woman is me. I love her.

I never knew what I would be getting into with this experience but it's been like therapy. It is like I am seeing myself completely whole for the first time, not in disjointed fragments of what I believe to be practical about my body, what I believe to be sexual about my body, what I believe to be strong about my body. Instead, I am my body. I am finally connected. My body ... it is my body ... and I adore it.

I'll have my picture framed in a fancy, golden frame and I will meditate on that image whenever I feel bad about myself.

This is me. This is me and I'm lovely.


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