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I am a huge fan of beautiful things, but not in the usual sense of the word.  My best friend, Daley, told me she has noticed that I am drawn to “characters,” and she’s right.  I’ve always found myself intrigued by anything that’s a little…well…different.

A dog with three legs gallivanting around happily.

Weathered antiques full of scratches but still holding on strong.

A man with a scar on his face.

I find all of those things beautiful because I know there’s a story behind it all, and it’s usually a story that includes some kind of struggle as well as overcoming the struggle.  That’s not only beautiful, it’s inspiring and real.

Up until recently, I believed that being perfect meant being without flaws, at least as far as beauty is concerned.  To me, physical perfection meant no scars, no stretch marks, no cellulite, and…a-hem…perfect boobs.  It’s kind of what the media wants us to think anyway, right? Models and starlets featured on the cover of magazines are airbrushed to perfection.  It makes me want to take a brown marker and add some hairy moles to their picture-perfect faces.

That’s mean and petty. Sorry.  Let’s get back to the real issue.

So where does that leave a woman like me:  a 36 year old woman who bears the signs of giving birth to 3 beautiful children, sleepless nights, breast-feeding, weight gain, weight loss, more weight gain, gravity, and the general ups and downs of life?

I’ll tell you where that leaves me.  Perfectly imperfect! Exactly the way I want to be.

I’ve spent years being embarrassed by my stretch marks, cellulite, and what’s left of my post-breastfeeding boobies.  And to add fuel to the fire, I’m a health and fitness professional…in Southern California of all places! I felt so much pressure (even though it was all self-induced) by watching what I used to think were perfect sculpted bodies walking around the gym with not a stretch mark to be found anywhere on them.

Where’s that brown marker? Maybe I could add some stretch marks.  Kidding!

I’m over it! Why? Because like the three legged dog, the weathered antiques, and the person with the scar on his face, I have a story!  I’m a real woman, living real life, and I have the marks to prove it.  That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I love my story, and some people even find it inspiring.

You know what? Perfect is boring anyway.  Perfect doesn’t make for quirky and inspiring characters, and I like characters.

So here is a picture of what I’ve been hiding for years, a picture of me with my stretch marks visible for all to see, because it’s part of my perfectly imperfect story.

andrea_beach

And that’s beautiful.

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