Introducing Lily and her Shaky Relationship with the Camera

The rotating cast of stylish, smart, amazing women who contribute to this blog has gone through some recent changes. Nadine and Audi are both juggling too many work, life, family, and school obligations right now, and have bowed out. Soon you’ll meet Aarti and Joi, but today you’ll be joining me in welcoming Lily. Lily is a colleague of Nadine’s who has tons of expertise and personal experience to contribute to Already Pretty. I’ll let her introduce herself, but just quickly want to say that she’ll be discussing disordered eating so please skip this post if that subject is triggering for you.

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Hi there, my name is Lily. I’m a new addition to the incredible group of women who contribute to this fabulous blog! I must admit that when I was first asked to contribute, I totally laughed out loud. I have never thought of myself as “stylish” and certainly would never use the word “fashion” in the same sentence as my name. To me, style is wearing anything that makes the wearer feel comfortable, sexy, fierce, and whatever else they are going for. However, I LOVE to write and I do wear clothes, so there’s that.

Currently I am in the final month of my Doctor of Education final project (very similar to a PhD dissertation) so most days you’ll find me at my desk in yoga pants, a brightly colored long-sleeve, and barefoot. Really fashionable, right? When I am not working tirelessly on my project, I’m more likely to wear stretchy skinny jeans*, funky heels or flats, and some kind of top. I tend to be pretty simple in my style.

As a new contributor, I want to introduce myself. And now that I have covered my sense of style, I would like to talk a little about the journey that has brought me to where I am today. I am a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. My EdD is in Human Sexuality, a field that I love, and it has been in this final program that I feel I’ve become my whole, authentic self.

I have struggled with an eating disorder for more than half of my life. There are many reasons why I chose this way to cope with my chaotic childhood, many layers to the onion. For me it has been a painful yet lovely road to recovery and now I choose each day to love myself, including nourishing my body. But I can still empathize with each and every one of you who struggle when you look in the mirror, struggle to feel comfortable in your skin, struggle to accept your body exactly as it is in this moment.

And although I’ve come a long way, I am struggling with all of those things myself as I write this. It is the holiday season and although I LOVE this time of year, it can be quite a trigger. For me it’s not so much about the food as it once was, but rather the photos that will be taken.

Many of us will gather together during the holidays to take photos with loved ones. I want more than anything to have photos like these that tell our stories of today for the future, yet I cringe knowing what creating those photos actually entails. When I’m required to be in a photo all I can think as I pose is, “Will I look attractive? Will I like what I see? How can I pose to not look awkward AND look good?” I have become the most annoying person to take photos with, but even worse to take photos of. I will absolutely demand re-take after re-take. In fact, my husband and twin now have a four-take limit.

It’s hard not to look back on older photos and compare my current self to myself in those photos from years past. Like many people, I often think, “In this photo I was so skinny and pretty.” But here’s the thing: I can’t let myself do that anymore. Over the years I’ve come to accept that I am only that size when I am sick. Really sick.

This year, I am searching for something besides a body shape and size in those images. I am looking for happiness, authenticity, and vibrancy. And guess what? I can’t see any of those things in the older photos. I do, however, see them in so many of the photos that I have taken over the last four years. (Especially my wedding photos!)

These days I look so different and not just in size, but also in facial features. I can see myself aging, and I don’t say that to criticize myself. I am aging as we all are, every day. And I may not look like I did when I was much younger and smaller, but that’s entirely my point. I can’t look like I once did because I am no longer the same person, and I don’t want to be. It isn’t worth it to me to starve myself, isolate myself, or suffer to be a smaller size. I have challenged myself to let go of hesitancy about my size and capture photos of me and my life as they are right now.  To not only create memories, but to document them in photos for years to come.

So I will not see my former self in holiday photos from this year because I shouldn’t. I have grown in every way; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I am me and I will be photographed. I may not love the photos, but I will love the moments they are capturing. And that is more important.

Happy Holidays!

*I have a sizable, lovable, ever-growing rump thanks to CrossFit, so stretch is vital!

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Lily A. Zehner is a sex therapist, blogger, and doctoral student at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Her private practice is located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

She is passionate about living authentically and helping clients do the same. She believes that letting our real selves shine is the key to self-love and finding true intimacy with others. She believes all bodies are good, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect. At times she struggles with this about her own body, but self acceptance can be a challenging road and it’s one she’s willingly chosen.

It’s taken time, but Lily has found her voice and she’s not afraid to use it! Her loud voice and boisterous laugh have become two of her most distinctive features. She’s also proud of her sizable, lovable rump, which grows ever larger as a result of CrossFit. She loves skinny jeans … so long as they have LOTS of stretch!

Lily’s definition of style is anything that makes the wearer feel sexy, comfortable, and confident.

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11 Responses to “Introducing Lily and her Shaky Relationship with the Camera”

  1. Florence

    I find Nadine’s attitude of in-your-face vulgarity rather off-putting, so I am glad that you have changed thing up with regards to your guest writers.
    Once suggestion I would like to make is that you make it more prominent that the post is made by a guest writer. I don’t usually notice the name is different until I’m a paragraph deep wondering since when your dad had a West Indian childhood, or lived in California & considered sleeping in the nud.

    • Sally McGraw

      Hi Florence! I’m astonished to hear that you found Nadine’s writing vulgar, since she always wrote about sex and sexuality in a straightforward but respectful way. Since sexuality is a part of body image for most people, I am glad Lily will continue those conversations.

      Contributor posts are always on Sundays, so if you read a post that went live on a Sunday, it will be by someone other than me.

      • WW

        I am really disappointed that Nadine will no longer be a guest poster, and even more disappointed that a commenter would describe a writer’s excellent work in such harshly judgmental terms–instead of recognizing that it is her own discomfort with Nadine’s writing style and subject content that is causing a problem.

        By having multiple contributors on a blog, there is going to be a spectrum of topics and writing styles. If Florence is uncomfortable with one or more particular contributors, she can easily find the post author right below the post heading and avoid reading those posts.

    • Nadine Thornhill

      Hi Florence,

      I’m sorry my writing style didn’t appeal to you. Lily is insightful, genuine and very intelligent. Hopefully you’ll connect with her contributions more than you did with mine.

      Happy Holidays,

  2. crtfly


    I am so ignorant when it comes to trends in almost any field of endeavor. So, why would CrossFit make Lily’s butt get bigger? My interpretation: CrossFit is either a piece of exercise equipment or an exercise regime that strengthens and builds the the gluteus muscles, resulting in more prominent buns. That’s a good thing! Is that what she is talking about?

    No I am going to have to go look up some Nadine guest posts to find out what she has to say.


    • Lily Zehner

      Hi Chris,

      My apologies, I should have defined CrossFit. It is a workout program that focuses on conditioning as well as strength. More specifically, my rump is lways growing from very heavy squats! And yes, I love my rump, I am very proud of it; however, it does make buying jeans without stretch impossible 🙂 For a more in depth description of “What is CrossFit” check out this video:


    • Lily Zehner

      Hi Chris,

      My apologies, I should have defined CrossFit. It is a workout program that focuses on conditioning as well as strength. More specifically, my rump is lways growing from very heavy squats! And yes, I love my rump, I am very proud of it; however, it does make buying jeans without stretch impossible 🙂 For a more in depth description of “What is CrossFit” check out this video:



  3. Dust. Wind. Bun.

    I like your rump attitude, Lily! Once I was idly discussing clothes shopping with two male colleagues, as we all had something that made it difficult for us – one guy was built like a linebacker (and was one in college), the other guy was quite short. I commented that in addition to being short, I have trouble finding pants because my butt is big. One of them protested, “I’m sure your butt is just fine”, to which I sassed, “You’re damn right it is!” (it was that kind of company 🙂 ) I also used to proudly own the nickname my friend gave my butt, which is, of course, The Ass That Ate New Jersey. I enjoy thinking of it as a force of destruction! Glad to hear that you’re in the same camp and welcome!

    • Lily Zehner

      Hi Dust. Wind. Bun!
      I am glad we both share a love and acceptance of our fabulous rumps!
      Thanks for chiming in 🙂

  4. crtfly

    I looked up Nadine’s posts. I think she is an insightful, skillful, and enlightening writer. I am uncomfortable with some of the topics, but that is my problem and is about my shyness. Actually I think it’s good for me to push that envelope with the help of a person who really knows what she’s talking about.

    I will miss her contributions.


    • Nadine Thornhill

      Thank you so much, Chris. Your words mean a lot to me. I’m going to miss writing for AP, but I’ll still be around as a reader and occasional commenter.

      All the best!