I stared at this photo of myself imagining those sticks were my arms. I couldn't make the image match. I come with big arms. They're big, not because they're fat, they're big because I USED to be 300 pounds! They are my badge of honor. This extra skin that waves along with me, I worked HARD for that. I'm not a celebrity and I don't want to be treated like one, meaning, leave my "flaws" alone. This is not the cover of a magazine, these are personal photos that my family will hold onto and cherish for many years. I'm guessing someone might notice, out of all my pictures, this one I look different.
I don't wish to lie to myself. I do not want to look at photos that have altered my body. Blend out the zit, stain on my shirt, or even a wrinkle or two, but my body is what it is and it is beautiful. My flab, rolls, stretch marks, and cellulite are mine. If I can learn to accept them so can the people around me. I was so offended by the Photoshopping and someone thinking they were doing me a favor that I embraced my arms, mentally hugging them and telling them that it's ok, I see them as beautiful.
The Photoshopper who gave me those sticks taught me a valuable lesson. Without that image I may never had made peace with myself, with my "flaws". I do not see my arms as a flaw anymore. My body is not wrong; society is wrong for subjecting women to a beauty standard that isn't real. Celebrities and models are Photoshopped on everything. I could transform my body into the best it can be and it still would not be considered perfect. I need to see myself as perfect now because regardless of what I do to it, someone will find something wrong.
As for the photo that started it all, it lives under my bed (it's a large canvas photo). I can't look at it because it makes me sad. I hold on to it for several reasons - the most important being the lesson that came from it. This is the first summer I am not subjecting myself to cardigans in 100 and something degree heat to hide my arms. I show my arms with pride now, they have become my middle finger to unrealistic beauty standards. This is me, I am beautiful and no one can make me ashamed of my body.