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By BaliniSports Guest Blogger, Katie Ashley www.katieashley.org

I recently posted a vintage pinup style photo of myself on my blog. The photo is not risque, I am wearing a vintage one piece swimsuit and my hair and makeup are done old school style. The pose is more playful than provocative.

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Nobody, except perhaps my mom, was offended by the sexiness of the photo but a few were upset because they felt that getting dressed up and made up took away from my message of unconditional body and self love. Wouldn't a more natural photo have been better?

If we truly love ourselves and our bodies then shouldn't we throw away our makeup brushes and dial down the fashion trends? No, not at all. Unless you want to. It is okay to want to look good. It is okay to want to feel sexy. It is okay to like fashion and want to be fashionable. It is okay to prefer a certain look or style. Just get honest about it. Do you prefer a certain look because the popular media tells you to? Do you dislike parts of your body because they don’t match the photo-shopped images we see in magazines? It’s okay. It is largely unavoidable in this time to be totally unaffected by cultural perceptions.

Loving your body unconditionally and fully accepting yourself does not mean that you have to stop dressing up, wearing makeup, waxing, highlighting or straightening your hair. The part that has to change is the intention, the reason behind the actions. Why are we doing it? We need to get really honest with ourselves.

I love to put random pieces of fun color in my hair. I enjoy expressing my multidimensional self by pairing my glittery girly cocktail dress with my vegan leather jacket and designer stiletto combat boots. I feel a bit more sexy when my legs are freshly shaven and my eyebrows have been plucked. The key is that I know that while I enjoy getting made up and dressed up I don’t need to do so. We are not better, sexier, or more worthy people when we dress up or do our makeup. We are not less than when we don’t. It isn't about the action so much as it is about the intention. It is as basic as need versus want. It is basic, but it isn't always easy.

Distinguishing the difference between needs and wants can be feel impossibly challenging sometimes. How do we get to a point where we can feel just as sexy in sweatpants as we do in a cute sundress? The truth is, that it isn't the clothing that is making us feel sexy in the first place. It is how we feel in them. How do you feel when you wear the dress? Confident? Poised? Self expressed? Put together? Creative? Exciting? Edgy? When we take a moment to identify what it is that we are really feeling when we feel good, we can use that information to create those feelings more often.

If self expression is what is driving the feel good feelings when we dress up, we can make a pact to do more self expressive activities in our daily lives. We can make it a priority to take time to paint, write or Pin interior design ideas. If confidence is key we can step into leadership roles that fuel that feeling. We can take risks in ways that boost our confidence so that we can feel the way that we want to feel anytime. When we get in touch with how we want to feel and take responsibility for creating more of those feelings in our lives magic happens.

Katie Ashley is a positive body image and Self love activist. She offers yoga therapy based mentoring to clients worldwide from her studio in Charleston, SC. Through her writing, speaking, live workshops and online programs she offers her vast array of tools, insights and experiences to those who want to fall unconditionally in love with their bodies, find their voices, and connect with their pasts in useful and inspiring ways. She believes that every person is capable of unlimited healing and inspired personal evolution and it is her calling to help guide those who desire it, and are ready, on their journey towards experiencing it for themselves. She writes often as a regular blogger for Recovery Warriors, Women Enough, and Charleston Grit and contributes occasionally to Yoganonymous, BaliniSports and Elephant Journal. She is a Gather Yoga emissary and Jade Yoga ambassador. 

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