What I learned from taking my shirt off

Body Image, Health & Fitness, Style, Workout Style

I know what you must be thinking from the title of this. What does she mean by that? What’s gotten into Kate? While this isn’t the first time I’ve paraded around with my shirt off, this time was different.

Let’s back up. Before I went to Cuba, I was asked if I would be interested in participating in a photoshoot with Brooks Running for a project they were planning to launch at the end of May. It was all about empowering women athletes and runners of all shapes, sizes, and athleticism. I was thrilled at the opportunity to represent one of my favorite brands and I was honored to be included at the launch of such a great movement.

The day of the photoshoot came. When I arrived at the location, I was suddenly struck with nerves. A new group of people, beautiful models, and a new photographer… The voices of self doubt and self consciousness began to fill my thoughts. What if I was no good? What if the photos I was in didn’t turn out? What if I ruined the project and Brooks never wanted to work with me again? My brain was all over the map. I know I shouldn’t have, but as I looked at all the other beautiful women around me, my thoughts intensified and I immediately thought of how my body wasn’t good enough. In my eyes, it wasn’t as lean or as muscular, it just wasn’t good enough, especially to represent such a great brand and movement.

I had to take a deep breath and get out of my head. Comparing myself to others would get me nowhere and most importantly, it’s not what I stand for. I knew that if someone told me they were experiencing those feelings I would talk them out of that place of self doubt. So, I swallowed my fear and thought of how proud I am of my personal accomplishments in health and fitness thus far. I was asked to be a part of this because of ME not because of someone or something I’m not. I get to represent the segment of athletes who don’t look like Instagram models and don’t have perfectly toned abs, those who need the extra supportive sports bras, those whose fitness stories are just starting or maybe are somewhere in the middle like mine.

But I digress. Remember that part about taking my shirt off?

Shortly after arriving at the first location and changing into my first outfit, we were whisked away for group pics – in just our sports bras. Once again, those thoughts of insecurity came flooding back to me. I tried to think all the positive thoughts and how fitness is my happy place now. Between the power of positive thinking and the group of incredible women I was surrounded with that day (both on and off camera), I was able to work through many of my feelings of self doubt and insecurity.

There’s a funny thing about having the courage to take off your shirt, pose for photos and do workouts in just a sports bra. I think for most women, standing around in their sports bras outside of their home (or even inside) is not something that’s naturally comfortable for them. It takes courage and confidence to stand out there in your sports bra, and when you’re surrounded by other inspiring women doing the same thing, you realize that no matter what your body looks like, you may be having those same feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.

After the photoshoot, I was chatting with one of the other models who told me that she couldn’t wait to see some of my photos: I can’t wait to see your yoga pose ones today. Loved you in the all black in the warrior pose. Feminine & fierce, ya know? 

Umm what?! To say I was flattered was an understatement but above all it was a wake up call to me. Just because someone is super ripped doesn’t mean that they don’t find my journey, my body, or my life inspiring. Just because someone is skinny or fit doesn’t mean that they find someone whose body “isn’t perfect” any less inspiring or motivational. Just because I perceive someone else’s body as “perfect” doesn’t mean that they see it that way.

I was so incredibly nervous at the photoshoot, focusing on only me and my feelings of insecurity that I failed to see that the others around me may have also been experiencing those feelings of inadequacy or nervousness.

Zach Doleac Photography

Created in partnership with Brooks Running + Brooks Women

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