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Owning Your True Beauty

A Facebook post by my friend, image consultant Barbara Carroll, so profoundly touched me that I am sharing it with you below. When I first met Barbara about three years ago, I envied her natural beauty.

I had no clue of the insecurities she carried within, but when I read about them I recognized myself and most of the women I know.

Barbara's post below is about how, in a moment of insecurity and self-judgment that could have crippled any of us, she remembered who she truly was and claimed her inner wealth. Scroll  to see how she did it.

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By guest blogger, Barbara Carroll

True confessions: I just returned from time at a hot springs where I retreated to work on developing a new program for my image consulting business, In Your Element. As I sat in the clothing-optional pools...

...I found myself beginning to play the comparison game
and clearly not measuring up.

This evening of the new moon, there seemed to be dozens of gorgeous young women in their 20's and 30's, one more stunning than the next. They were all shapes and sizes and mostly I was struck by the beauty of their youth and godessy fresh nubile bodies as they emerged from the warm waters.

It didn't take long, before I became painfully aware of the pin pricks
of shame and embarrassment about this 51 year old body,
with all of my various perceived imperfections.

I felt rawly self conscious of my smaller right breast
that had undergone surgery for breast cancer.
My c-section scar felt like another deformity.

When I got out of the pools, I found myself sucking my stomach in and covering myself as much as possible.

As I meditated on this constricted tight feeling in my chest,I prayed for a new vision, a clearer lens.

Almost immediately, I felt a familiar warmth begin to
wash over me--the comfort of compassion.

With motherly gentleness, I attended to each part of my body that I had previously "attacked". The smile of my belly scar that birthed my beautiful boy. The silvery indentation on my breast that marks the most difficult year of my life--losing my fiancé, my father and this innocent piece of flesh. In that moment, I knew that I would never be that young unmarked woman again, nor did I want to be.

I am entering my years of crone and teacher and wise woman.

As I work with thousands of women to embrace their true beauty, I commit to standing in my own; to wearing this suit I have been blessed to inhabit for over half a century, with its badges of courage and miracles and just plain and simple life.

I will stand for my beauty for all these lovely young women to see themselves in me 20, 30 years down the line. To stand naked in a pool of strangers, quietly unashamed and fierce in my knowing that all is beautiful.

Visit Barbara Carroll at 



  1. Maribel Jimenez

    What a beautiful message Martia and a great reminder to stand for your beauty AND for theirs. I love that and am reminded to love myself versus attack any part of my body. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Danielle

    What a beautiful message from two beautiful ladies! Thanks for sharing something so real.

  3. Stephanie LH Calahan

    Thank you for sharing Barbara’s story. Isn’t it interesting how we, as women, compare ourselves to each other? It is such a human things to do! Every woman I’ve ever talk to has had moments where she saw someone else as being better than her in something. The media doesn’t help either. Taking perfectly beautiful women and airbrushing this and that. . . I think it makes our perspective skewed.

    I’m grateful for the reminder to love every part of me, the parts with surgery scars, the parts with stretch marks, the parts less-than-perfect along with the parts that are just the way I want them. It’s all me! Loving ourselves fully, every part of us, is one of the best gifts that we can give to ourselves and everyone else around us.

    • Martia Nelson

      Well said, Stephanie. I’m with you on that. It’s so important to understand the media’s influence on of view of ourselves and to counteract it with the self-love our bodies deserve.

  4. Brenda

    “I will stand for my beauty for all these lovely young women to see themselves in me 20, 30 years down the line. To stand naked in a pool of strangers, quietly unashamed and fierce in my knowing that all is beautiful.” – all I can say is WOW. That message has hit home.

  5. Christine Alejandro

    As a nutritional psychotherapist, I encourage women to love their bodies as they are and appreciate how their bodies have served them in their journey to this point. Their strong legs have carried them many miles, their bellies have grown and birthed precious babies, their arms have held and loved children and friends. They must first love their bodies in order to feel they deserve to start nurturing and caring for their bodies. It is a flip of the switch from shame and attack of certain body parts to love and nurturing. As we start to love and nurture, the body feels comfortable in letting go of excess weight and toning muscles- that is not the focus, but a nice side event that happens through better nutrition and care of the body.

  6. Gina Hiatt

    I felt a lump in my throat when I read Barbara’s very honest sharing. It’s good that she reached a point of caring and understanding of the beauty that her body’s imperfections represented. I look forward to the publication of your new book — the idea of new perceptions of what constitutes feminine wealth is appealing!

  7. Kimberly Eldredge

    I attended a writers conference in St. Petersburg Russia during the summer of 2002. While I was there I had the opportunity to visit and traditional Russian banya (bathhouse). There were women at the conference who didn’t want to go because of insecurities about their naked bodies.

    I’m not sure what they thought of this 19-year-old skinny chick telling them to, and I quote “suck it up. nobody’s looking” and come anyway. Thankfully, I think most of my new friends took it to heart and came anyway.

    I don’t remember a single body from my visit to the banya. I remember laughing, beating each other with birch leaves, laughing, FINALLY being able to shave my legs, a fellow author in the sauna complaining that her nipple ring was hot, laughing, and the mean Russian woman cussing me out in Russian for doing it wrong.

    I remember strong women who traveled to the other side of the world to expand our horizons, work on the craft, experience a culture, and navigate a city for four weeks — most of us not speaking a word of Russian.

    I’m sure there’s a deep lesson about accepting your body and aging gracefully. I remember laughter and being so grateful that after two weeks of cold showers to FINALLY be able to take a hot shower.

    And the nipple ring. That kind of thing really sticks with you!


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