Written by Ruby Roxx Photography Artist Jessica Rae
You know that feeling when you step out of the shower, and you feel like a brand new person? Isn’t it one of the best feelings in the world? Your skin is warn and damp and soft. Your hair is dripping but clean and smells great. You feel renewed, refreshed, and ready to take on the world.
But have you ever had a shower, where your roommate flushes the toilet, and the water changes from hot or cold water on you, shocking your system...or perhaps the steam just becomes too much, and you cant see an inch in front of your face? But then the steam settles and the water returns to normal. You lather up, washing away the past, and step out feeling better. In many ways, life can be like a shower....
I’ve recently stepped out of my own metaphorical shower. For a while I couldn’t see through the steam…everything seemed distorted. The temperature of the water was constantly changing, and shocking my system, from hot to cold. I slipped, stumbled, and caught myself. But in the end, I washed away the negativity, and stepped out of that shower, feeling the damaging, harmful, thoughts and feelings circling down the drain, and a fresh new version of me is emerging and ready to face a brand new day.
Within the past year, a lot has changed. I’ve changed. I make no secret of my struggles with my mental health. I find talking openly and honestly about it is the best way to deal with it personally. My mental health struggles are a part of me, and will never be gone, however, a year ago I felt I was at one of my absolute lowest points, but now, I feel like I am starting to once again gain a grip and handle on my life again.
It started with a bout of intensely stressful times. I went through a physically and emotionally traumatic ending of friendship, which brought up a whole other set of problems, and triggered some terrible memories with it. Not only that, but before Christmas, my 2 year old dog Cash, suddenly stopped being able to use his back legs, and he had to have emergency spinal surgery, which took months of recovery and rehabilitation, and cost almost $10K (Thank goodness for credit cards and pet insurance!). Hard times bring out peoples true colours, and I become vividly aware of who really was there for me and who wasn’t. This caused me to slip into a bout of depression, that, ill be honest, I’m still fighting to get out of. This depression resulted in a medication change, that took my appetite away completely. I have always had a healthy appetite and love of food. Not having an appetite at all, is a new thing for me. It’s a struggle to eat. My husband and family members have gotten in the habit of calling me during the day to remind me to eat, as, I just quite simply forget about food most of the time. But I still make sure to eat every day, throughout the day. I try to treat food now, as more of a fuel, and am very much aware of what I am putting in my body now, so I’ve been eating a lot more delicious summer fruits and vegetables. And trust me, I’m not starving myself by any means. I may not feel hungry, but if you put a juicy burger in front of me, you can bet it will ALL be eaten up. And those midnight munchies haven’t gone anywhere. My love of cooking hasn't gone anywhere either.
But, my mental health, has not been my only health concern lately. A lot of you may have noticed a recent shift in my weight. This has been for many different reasons, some of which I don’t even really understand myself. Its been a confusing time. My body is changing, and I'm not in full control of it. It’s been a mix of emotions, as I have had many comments, from congratulations, to disappointment in my weight loss. In reality however, I don’t think my weight should be the focus of anyone's pride, congratulations, or regret. I am worth more than a number on a scale, and why do so many people feel entitled to comment on ones weight in general?
So, instead of dodging the comments with uncomfortable looks or snarky clap backs, I decided to own up to it, talk about what I do know, and come clean about the whole thing.
First of of, I wanted to remind you that weight loss is not inherently good OR bad. There are SO many different circumstances that could lead to someone losing weight. It isn’t always because someone is working out and eating great and wants or deserved to be congratulated on. Weight loss, OR gain, can sometimes be due to health concerns, stress, trauma, medications, and dozens of other reasons. For me, It has been a wide variety of reasons, some of which I'm still trying to figure out. I’ve lost almost 75lbs since last Fall.
I’ve also been dealing with some other health concerns, that, I won’t go into to much detail about, because I don’t actually know what’s going on! All arrows seem to be a thyroid issue (overheating, over sweating, feeling dizzy, hand tremors, extreme exhaustion, and of course, the appetite loss and fast weight loss.) but I’m having a hard time getting answers, tests or referrals, and just a hard time trying to figuring out not only the medical system, but also, my body. I took most of April and May off work for a couple of reasons. I felt like I couldn’t work and give my best effort. I would either be ready for a nap 30 min into a photo shoot, or, I would be drenched in sweat, and melting all my makeup off, the moment the lights were turned on. A part of me feels like I have a new body, that I don’t even recognise. Another part, remembers that this is the body I’ve always had, and its not always been perfect, in fact, far from it! It got me through some very difficult times, and I am so grateful for my body regardless of whatever state it might currently be in. I also realise, that this new body, may not BE my permanent home. In life, if you live in a human body, it will change, for many reasons, and once/when I figure out exactly what happening with my body, my weight may shift again. I may lose more weight, or I may gain some back. The funny thing, is its not up to me, and I have to be OK with simply taking care of myself the very best that I can, and being grateful and content with how my body looks at the end, as long as it is healthy.
During this time, it has been so important for me to be very aware of my unconscious thoughts, as well as, being aware that not everyone has the same unconscious thoughts. Its also been a reminder that not everyone stops to think about what they say either. I am challenging myself to take a moment to think before I speak, as I really wish people would do the same. Sometimes things can slip out that don’t mean to offend or cause problems, but taking that extra moment to think about others, could change the vocabulary completely. Even thought I have told people that my weight loss is due to health concerns, there are some people that continue to congratulate me on it and tell me how wonderful I look now that I’ve lost weight. While I don’t think these people MEAN to cause such a reaction, in my mind, I instantly think “what did they think of me before?” “do they not care about how I feel?” or “Did they even listen?”. When in reality, the reasons for their reaction could be any reason from ignorance, to uncomfortableness, to confusion, or…in rare cases, they are just being rude.
I’ve also had disappointment in my weight loss. As a curvy model, some of those curves that people are used to seeing, are disappearing. I’ve received a lot of comments and messages expressing disappointment in my new body. I've been told I've lost my appeal, and that my old body was better. I've been called gross, a sellout, a stick, and unattractive. I would like to ask these people, do they think my body and weight is simply there for their enjoyment and entertainment? I certainly don’t see it that way. I am a model, and my body is a means of creating art. I AM a work of art regardless of my dress size or the number on a scale. My weight does NOT define me! I know I cannot please everyone all the time, but a little empathy and critical thinking goes a long way. We can’t always understand everything, but asking thoughtful questions and leading with kindness in our hearts is always a good place to start. But if its not YOUR body, my advice, is to keep quiet unless asked.
Now, I'm not saying that if you notice a weight shift in someone not to say anything, but first, I want you to pause, and think about what you are going to ask/say to them. Is it necessary? Is it kind? Is it true? Sometimes, saying nothing IS the appropriate thing to do. If someone is eager to talk to you about their weight…they will…trust me. But if you do want to ask, first think about your question, and maybe try to re-phrase it into something that opens up conversation instead of instantly putting a label on them and their weight loss as “good” or “bad”. Questions like “how are you feeling”, or, “tell me what’s new” are often the only thing you’ll need to say to get the conversation flowing. But I also must say, if you don’t know the person well, or you are commenting on someone’s photo online, just leave it alone. Weight and health is no one’s business but the individual and whoever they decide to share said information with, and their personal health care team. Since it can be SUCH a personal thing, and very different in each and every case, its best to keep your mouth shut. It can be an extremely triggering and dangerous thing. You would hate to congratulate someone on their weight loss, when in reality, they haven’t been eating, or are trying to recover from an eating disorder. Or perhaps, like me, they have been sick and don’t know what is going on or why their weight is so drastically changing. These questions can be extremely personal and triggering based on what the person is dealing with and their own filter of the world.
This particular blog post and photo shoot was very important to me. I have been wanting to write it for months, but never knew exactly how to form it, what to say, or if I even wanted to open up. But then I thought of that fresh feeling of washing away the negative intentions and fears, and stepping into a clean, safe, and warm environment. I am coming clean. I am baring part of my inner self, in hopes of creating a dialogue around how we treat weight loss/gain, not only in ourselves, but in others. This shoot, and its images, to me, signifies a new start. But a subtle new start, like the start of a day after using new amazing shampoo. I feel ready to take on the day. I have washed the negativity down the drain. These photos, with no makeup or hairstyling, no retouching or editing, signify the nakedness and raw beings we sometimes all need to become in order to start over. I didn’t want this post to be accompanied by “Before and After” photos, as that isn’t what its about! These real, raw, photos, show ME. My skin, my curves (yes…I still have them!), my face, my nose, my hair. I am raw and real, but recognisable as ME. Regarless of the body that I am in currently, I still love myself, and my body, and really, deep inside, nothing has changed. I'm still Ruby, and I still ROXX! Day by day, shower by shower.