People have stories. We all have pasts and difficulties and hard times and we all wear and share our story differently. I'm incredibly blessed because I'm in a unique position to help people share their stories in a vivid way that celebrates and champions them. Meet Bethany.
Bethany struggled with her weight since she was a little child. And even then she was aware of her weight and that she was bigger than others.
"I used food to cope and never truly developed anyother cooing mechanisms which is why after highschool and college it truly got out of control. I was stressed and lonely and used food as a filler to my days much like someone will reach for a cigarette and a cup of coffee I would plan my days around food. I reached my breaking point when I stepped on the scale at over 305 lbs."
"I worked with a nutritionist for over 3 years but I could not see to break 275 lbs. My genetics, slow metabolism, and excessive eating for years required an extra push. I finally decided to look into weight loss surgery and have never looked back!"
"In December of 2015 I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy or VSG. Over 85% of my stomach was removed. It works because there is less surface area for calories to be absorbed and also less space in general.
"I've lost over 165lbs but have had some regain and have been maintaining my weight for over 2 years."
I asked Bethany what this felt like, to loose so much of the weight and to be on this path to the person she wants to be- not just weight wise, but also emotionally.
"My brain still has yet to catch up. But I am a much more confident person, people treat you differently which doesn't hurt. I still battle with loving myself and treating my body right. Like any other addiction this will be a life long battle."
Bethany is a fighter. More than once we talked about how she saved her life by doing what she did. I look at these pictures of Bethany and I see strength. I didn't know Bethany before her VSG surgery. I meet her after the fact, after she fought so many battles and lost a few but won a lot. Bethany has scars . . . but she wears them like some women wear jewelry. They show where she's been and how far she's come. Bethany wanted to see herself differently when we talked about photographing her. She wanted to see the person everyone who loves her sees. Before I show you Bethany's pictures, I want to stress how brave this was. To be photographed when all you see when you look in the mirror is every failure, every imperfection, and every pound you thought you lost. It is brave to believe that you are as beautiful as you hope you are . . . especially when you struggle to see it. So that is what we did. Bethany was brave and trusted me and we created this . . .
a tribute to her success . . .
proof of her journey . . .
a celebration of her grace through trials and addiction . . .
a reason to smile . . .
proof of success . . .
a tribute to scars . . .
and more than a million reasons to keep moving forward. We created Bethany's legacy. We documented her beauty, her truth, her vulnerability, and her vibrant, powerful, and bright-as-the-Sun-at-noon beauty and dignity!
"Seeing myself during the reveal was the first time I saw what other people tell me they see. It can be difficult when looking in the mirror. I nitpick my flaws. I see places I'd still like to lose weight, and loose skin that reminds me daily of the life I used to lead."
You made me feel beautiful and then showed me just how beautiful everyone makes me feel."
Whatever your story is, however far on this path of life you are, let me tell you that you are worth feeling beautiful. You are so worth it. You are worth every complement, every smile, every encouraging word . . . and you are worthy of being photographed. You are worthy of being celebrated and loved. You are worthy of being remembered. You are worthy of loving yourself right now. Bethany . . . forever thank you for being brave enough to show the world, to show me, part of your story. Thank you for trusting me and being vulnerable. You are truly divine . . . and your story matters. Love, Melinda
Studio in Athens PA.
Serving Athens Pennsylvania, Towanda Pennsylvania, Corning New York, and Twin Tiers area.