We buy the latest fashions.

We color our hair.

We apply layers and layers of makeup.

We permanently brand our skin with tattoos.

We adorn our bodies with jewelry.

We pay doctors get rid of our fat through liposuction or CoolSculpting.

We paint our nails.

We wax, laser, and shave our hair.

We apply bronzer and fake tanner to change our skin color.

We "enhance" our features with cosmetic surgery.

We alter the color of our eyes with colored contacts.

We spend money to have our eyebrows shaped.

We wear false eyelashes.

We squeeze into waist cinchers and compression garments.

We get implants and butt lifts.

We buy fat burners and other "magic" pills and supplements.

We spend so much money altering our image and so much time every morning deciding how we want to present ourselves to the world by dressing up our bodies. And, the cunning advertising industry makes sure we know that we need all this stuff, all these modifications and additions, in order to feel "good enough" in our bodies.

But, at the end of the day when all the makeup, fashion, jewelry, and hair products come off, are you still happy with your body? Or, do you need the cover-ups to love yourself? Do you rely on these external body alterations to express yourself to the world...or are you confident in the skin you are in - raw, naked, real?

This is where what I like to call "body art" comes into play - shaping your body and unique image without all the superficial layers covering you up. Your body is your most real form of expression...your purest interaction with the world. What if you put the same resources and focus spent on these external modifications into altering your body from the inside out? Nourishing it with real food. Shaping it with exercise. Detoxifying it with sleep, meditation, reflection.

Someone recently criticized the nude photos I've posted on Facebook and Instagram, asking why I would do such a thing. Because I want to. Because I can. Because I'm comfortable in my own skin. And, because I want to use my journey with my body from pain to power to show what is possible. The work I've done to get to this point where I am confident showing my body to the world without fearing judgement or scorn and not needing validation or praise has been extensive. From the little girl who was literally killing herself through starvation in an attempt to make herself as small as possible to hide from the world and avoid criticism and the shame of not being good enough...to the woman now who is fearless about showing her real self - raw, real, naked - and who doesn't care what people say about her because deep down inside she knows who she is and what she's worth, it's been quite a transformation. And, it's the reason I developed this Bad Girl Ballerina community...to show you that there's a way out from the pain.

There is so much power and peace to be found in learning how to sculpt and manipulate your body in a healthy, nurturing way. My body is the purest piece of art I have to give the world. Whether I use it for dancing, interactions with people, photo shoots, whatever...it's my most genuine form of self-expression. And, I'm comfortable enough to say here I am. Naked. Vulnerable. Real. Nothing to hide behind. Nothing to cover up my flaws. I'm giving the world everything I've got. And, that is where the feeling of really being alive and thriving comes from.

It's not that you should abstain from wearing makeup or enjoying the latest fashions. I enjoy shopping and getting dolled up just as much as the next girl. But, the external stuff should be secondary. Be careful that you don't dress yourself up to love yourself. Love yourself first. Love yourself enough to make the changes you want to make to your body from the inside out. Learn the tools that will help you gain control over this vehicle you have for interacting with the world. The work itself is part of the empowering process and much more rewarding than paying someone else to dress you up or alter your body for you.

Sure there's more to you than your body and your worth is certainly not determined by that alone. But wouldn't it be nice if this body you walk around in was all you needed to make you feel proud, confident, whole, alive? Then, at the end of the day when all your layers of makeup, fashion, hair product, and jewelry come off...you feel as beautiful and comfortable as ever in your own skin?

The human body is the most beautiful, raw piece of art there is. Each is a unique representation of our selves, our gateway to express our souls to the world. And, it's the most empowering feeling to be in control of your body and to be able to change it through your own efforts, without relying on external devices to cover yourself up. Make the most of your body; get comfortable naked.

Photo credit: Steve Vaccariello

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