“Learning to balance my spiritual, emotional, and physical life helped me understand my internal beauty, which led to freedom from my eating compulsion.” – Sue
Tell us about yourself, Sue!
I am a 70-year-old widow who was married to a D’Iberville High school teacher for 47 years. My husband and I raised and provided advanced educations at Mississippi Universities for three sons. I am mother-in-law to two wonderful women, grandmother to two granddaughters and four grandsons, daughter, former sister to one brother and sister, retired systems engineer of 32 years, and I am now pursuing oil painting.
After many ups, downs, heartbreaks, gains, and losses I am now living my best life. God’s plan for my life worked out better than any I had. I married at 18, completed one year of college at 27, and completed the additional three years with a different major at 35. Pursuing a college degree with sons who were 4, 7, and 11 while waiting tables at a local restaurant was chaotic to say the least. This was in the early 80s and women’s magazines were encouraging women strong in math and English who hoped to receive pay equitable to their male counterparts to pursue degrees in computers. In a class of twenty computer science majors, there would usually only be four females.
My female classmates left Mississippi in order to find jobs after graduation. God placed me on a baseball field to pick up one of my sons with wet hair, no make-up, clean but faded shorts, and flip flops. There another baseball parent asked if I worked at the shipyard. I told him no, but I wished I did because I had just completed a degree in computer science and I needed a job. He asked me to bring my resume to the next game. He arranged an interview with two men and I was hired! Upon starting work, I discovered the ones who interviewed me worked for him. This began my 32 year career as an engineer.
How did you come to understand your inner beauty?
My mother tells me that I didn’t have a weight problem until after my tonsils were removed at the age of seven. My dad was a perfectionist, and my weight was always an issue. One of my cousins gave me beautiful hand-me-downs to wear until after the operation. I was very shy throughout high school and my weight fluctuated a good deal. However, in my senior year, I was a contestant in the Camellia Queen Contest and the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo contest. I never felt like I belonged in those pageants, but I did it to please my parents.
In my early forties, I was obese. My husband gifted me a session with Glamour Shots to try to encourage me (he had ongoing weight issues as well). I was photogenic and got a lot of comments like, “what a pretty face you have – if you would just lose the weight.”
By my mid forties, my weight had reached an all time high of 248 pounds. My Dad was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, my sister was losing her baby to muscular dystrophy, and I was managing a huge project at work. I was looking for some sort of relief other than food. I discovered Overeaters Anonymous, which is a program based on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous. By taking a sponsor and working the program, I was able to work through a lot of my past history, hurts, and anxieties. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference became my mantra. Learning to balance my spiritual, emotional, and physical life provided me with the understanding that I had inner beauty and a side effect of that was relief from my eating compulsion.
This project is all about inspiring women to see their beauty. What parts of your story can you share to help women to understand their own beauty?
Our society does our entire population an injustice by portraying unrealistic ideas of what beauty should be in order to sell products. There is a saying we use when someone misbehaves, “God doesn’t like ugly.” Well, God didn’t make any of you ugly. He gave us all special features and talents. Self confidence and a clear conscience are two great beauty assets. Focus on your special features, be your authentic self, not someone else’s idea of what that might be. One doesn’t have to follow the latest styles or trends. I didn’t go to my ten year class reunion because I was five pounds overweight. It seems ludicrous to me now!
Tell us about your experience with the photoshoot.
I was excited to be selected, especially since I am 70 years old! I immediately started pulling out clothes, trying them on, and photographing myself at home to help me decide what to take. I hit a period where I lost confidence in my decision. I told one of my sons that I would have thought I was on a hormonal high when I made the decision to do the shoot except that I am no longer hormonal! For a brief period I considered canceling… but then I decided to go have fun. It was definitely the right decision!
The shoot was my way of showing love for myself. I had not had professional photos taken since my employer sent me to the lab for professional photos. I was highly insulted when the finished product looked like they had placed a mask over my face to remove my wrinkles. I worked hard for those wrinkles! Prior to that I had Glamour shots in 1993. All other photos had been taken as part of family gatherings or badging for work. This was just for me!
Let’s create heirloom images that you and your children will cherish.
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