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artist Amanda Killian and model Tray

When I was around 37 years old I began to realize that people are going to judge me no matter how I look or how big or small I am. I realized I might as well live the rest of my life doing what makes me happy and drowning out what others have to say.       Then last summer a friend of mine told me that she had signed up for New York City Bodypainting Day. It sounded like a lot of fun. I have always envied people that have enough self confidence to do these things. I would never have imagined myself doing something like that. Then I was given the opportunity to model also. This was the perfect opportunity to start taking steps outside of my comfort zone regarding my body image. This was a battle I had been fighting or so many years.       New York City Bodypainting Day changed my life. When I began to strip my clothes off in front that crowd of hundreds of people, I felt as if I was stripping off layers of insecurity, fear, and shame. I actually began to feel confident, refreshed, and strong. I was so proud of myself. When I was finished being painted and had a chance to see what I looked like, I almost cried. I was naked, only wearing paint, yet what I saw looking back at me was beautiful. I actually felt beautiful…NAKED! That’s when it dawned on me, I AM beautiful. All of the people around me were beautiful too. The models ranged in age, size, and gender and every model I saw was beautiful.       There was not a single person around putting anyone down. All of the people watching us were smiling and giving us thumbs up. I even had a few people tell me they wished they had the confidence to do what I was doing. THAT is the reason I want to continue to participate in these events. I want to be the voice…or BODY that helps other people like me to feel confident about themselves.      I know a lot of mothers out there that have stretch marks, c-section scars, and/or cellulite just like myself. I know most of them are just as ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid of showing their bodies as I was because of what society keeps force feeding us into believing beauty is. Every body is beautiful. All bodies are different and special in their own way.       I want to be a role model for all of the women and men out there who have been programmed to believe that they aren’t beautiful. I want to change society’s view of beauty. I don’t want to just do this close to home. The problem is much bigger than that. I want to make my voice heard and my body seen. I want to put an end to body shaming all over the world. I am beautiful and so are my scars. My body is a work of art and so is yours.

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