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Be Unapologetically You!


Be yourself, be you, unapologetically you and rock that white mini dress or shorts the way only you can, and don't forget your Grayton Automatic Watch! *photos are unedited*


For almost five years I have been blogging in this little space of mine, but very few have seen me, and there's been a reason for that. Before I rebranded to AnnMarie John, we were known as Growing Up Madison. This was all about Madison, but to be honest, there were instances I could have gotten IN-FRONT of the camera with Madison and shown the world who I was. I was a mother, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, an American soldier and so much more. I told the world, this is about Madison and so there was no need to show myself. However, that was very far from the truth. I hated being in-front of the camera because I didn't think that I was beautiful enough, that I was skinny enough, that my body was "good enough" to be shown to the world. My image of beauty was that size 2 person I was years ago. That skinny young girl who could flaunt it in her shorts, show off her legs and have men say "OMG look at those legs". While I didn't have the typical "black girl butt"which I blame on my European ancestry, I sure did have the legs!


While in the military, I was tough, I could shoot 36 out of my 40 bullets and not miss my mark with an M16 or M9. I was toned, I ran 5 miles and more 3 days a week and I did the mandatory pushups and sit-ups required to be physically fit. Fast forward to 2 years ago and also to the time when I retired. I thought "oh fun times". For me that meant no more getting up and getting ready for PT, no more 5 mile runs or rucks, no more having to hit the gym to stay in shape. I could eat whatever I want, drink whatever I want and there would be no consequences. Sure there weren't any military consequences, but what happened was that I gained 30lbs in less than a year. My now size 7 waist 28 denims could no longer fit. I'm now a size 10, waist 31, woman and I was not happy. Sure there are things that I could do to get back in shape. I could go back to the gym, which I hate, I could start eating a lot healthier and I could generally take better care of myself. These are all, however, choices I have to make for myself, not someone else making them for me, and definitely not by you telling me that I'm fat and ugly.


However, in the meantime, I have to love my body. After all it is my body! This body is 40 years old and have given birth to 4 children. This body has seen good times and bad times. This body may be filled with cellulite, my boobs may now hang and my tummy may be a little "pouchy" but it's my body and I have to live and be comfortable with it. I remember Madison asking one day after I had taken my bra off,  "mommy why doesn't your boobs stay up?" and I laughed and said "it's because mommy breastfed all of you". It was then I started thinking about having a breast lift. Sure I can still wear some tops and get away with it, but my boobs sure aren't what they were sans kids. However, these boobs have nourished four children for various lengths of times and they're mine.


I haven't worn a two piece swimsuit in years because I have been so self-conscious about my body. I have been so worried about what other people think about the way that I look that I have literally stopped being myself. I have stopped living. My stomach may not be as flat as it was 5 years ago, but this stomach has also held and given birth to 4 beautiful children. It has the stretch marks and the caesarean scar to prove it, and once again this stomach is mine, all mine!


I complained that my eyes were too small. Why were my eyes so small, why can't you see my eyes when I smiled? My nose was too big, I hated my smile and my face was too fat, and the list went on and on.


We tend to put so much emphasis on what we consider beauty, but we're all beautiful. When someone tells me that I look great, instead of saying "thank you so much", I would say "thank you but..". Why can't we accept that we're beautiful just the way we are? I became obsessed with the way that I looked and ultimately became a photoshop junkie. I erased laugh lines, I erased my cellulite, I erased blemishes, and I realized that I was erasing what made me, ME.



I was living a lie, and what was I teaching my own daughters? That we're not beautiful unless we're perfect? And who defines what perfect beauty is? Does beauty mean that I should have flawless skin, perfect straight and white teeth, a size 2 body? Does that mean that if my own children didn't have that, then they're not perfect? How about focusing on what's on the inside, because as my mom used to say "having a beautiful face, but an ugly personality, makes you ugly all over".


Start focusing on your inward beauty and forget about how the world views you. Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder and we all have our ideal of what beauty is. It doesn't matter if you're a size 2 or a size 20. It doesn't matter if you have a few extra love handles or we can see your ribs. Be comfortable in your skin. Don't let the world define who you are!


I want to thank Grayton Automatic Watch for sponsoring this post, and to be honest their watches are absolutely beautiful! With no batteries to purchase ever, their watches appeal to both men and women and are a work of art. Check them out!

So with that I say...

Be you, be unapologetically you!



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Annmarie John
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49 comments:

  1. What can I say, but you my friend are beautiful inside and outside, too. Seriously, you rock and thank you for always being so honest and just you. By the way, at almost 40 (in a few short weeks), I could relate so much to what you wrote above. So, thank you also for putting this all into words here. Hugs and just so glad we are friends <3

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  2. You are rocking that outfit, and I love the shoes! I completely get it. I've always been self-conscious of how I look, especially my ears! They stick out and had always been something I disliked about myself. My daughter also inherited my ears, but when I look at her, I find them adorable and absolutely perfect. She has my perfect ears. :)

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  3. We should all be who we are and be us unapologetically. I completely agree with you. That outfit is rockin on you. Love the shoes and handbag as well.

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  4. This is the most inspiring thing I've read today! This week!
    I love your style. I love wearing white and I love my big hair and I'm learning to embrace the rest.
    You rock!
    Also, the watch is awesome! It looks made for you.

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  5. I LOVE that! We are who we are, and that's all we can or should be!

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  6. This post is EVERYTHING! It's so hard for people - myself included - to remember that we are awesome just the way we are. There are so many images and messages out there aimed at "perfection".

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  7. This post is one that everyone should read. Too many people try to be what others want instead of who they really are.

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  8. I am so glad you found a way to love your body! From what I have discovered men prefer those hot curves you have and I am here to tell you that you are absolutely GORGEOUS with a slammin' figure!
    I also absolutely love your hair - color and curls!
    Cute watch - have not heard of them before will go check them out!

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  9. This is a great message! We should definitely accept ourselves and not be afraid to put ourselves out there. I'm loving your style and the watch really complements your outfit!

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  10. This dress looks amazing on you. I think it is important to just be yourself and not apologize for it.

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  11. I think you look amazing. I have always marched to my own drum. It is best to just own it.

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  12. I love the message of this post. It is so important to be yourself and love your body for what it has done for you. I don't look the same as I did pre-kids!

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  13. Why are we women so hard on ourselves sometimes? I love the positive message you put forth in this post. We definitely need to be unapologetic about ourselves. We are who we are. I love your outfit and the watch is a classy touch, pulling it all together beautifully.

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  14. It's 6:30 a.m and I am here crying from your post ;)
    Girl, it's like you wrote this post saying everything my mind tells me, the eyes and nose part hit a huge thing with me, it's why I don't take pictures. I hate that I feel like this because with 6 kids I would like for them to have pictures with me, but I am not there yet, thank you SO MUCH for the inspiration, and you look amazing!!!

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  15. Love love love...everything about it...even those shoes!! Perfect for you.

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  16. Gosh girl I LOVE that outfit on you. Now that I can see the whole picture, as I only saw the top half in your profile photo, that is hot. I get that feeling of wanting to be the size before pregnancy and life and age takes over, but you still got it! Beautiful post and beautiful photos!

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  17. First off, can we just discuss how AMAZING that dress is? Everything about it is perfection: from the cut to the length and of course, those beautiful sleeves that give it such a flowy look. Glad to see you in front of the camera and as centre stage of this blog post. Love the message going behind this article as well!

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  18. The watch is cute but that pink purse is gorgeous! Love your message to love your body.

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  19. You're looking fab. Those shoes and those sleeves!! Love the purple hair against the white dress too. I agree, we have to embrace who we are now, not who we were when we were younger. The population of women who are size 2 is so slim (haha) that we're judging ourselves against a very minority population anyhoo. :) Kudos to you for sharing the message! I'm sure a lot of us needed to hear it.

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  20. Love this post! Love how honest it is. You look stunning! Love the outfit and your hair!! The shoes and dress are so cute!! It is definitely important to be yourself, love yourself and just do you!

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  21. I love the post, too. What I see is a gorgeous woman with a gorgeous body! I would love to be in your position! I guess someone might feel the same about me, but I sure cannot imagine that!

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  22. You really shine in these photos. The style and confidence you have is amazing.

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  23. Your confidence shines through in your smile! Whatever age or size...I want to have that too!

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  24. You are being you! These photos all show a beautiful confident woman. I sometimes feel just like you describe, and then I remember, my body has given birth 5 times, what do you expect? Keep on being you!

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  25. Love this sentiment! You seem lovely on the inside and out! Confidence is the most beautiful thing of all!

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  26. I couldn't love this post more!! Your confidence is radiating. I think your mom bod looks amazing!

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  27. I love your hair color. Ive toyed with the idea of going bold with a fun hair color. But I haven't done it.

    The white dress is beautiful on you too. I wish that I was a girly girl. Dresses just aren't my thing unless I have to.

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  28. I love the message you are conveying in this post. It's important to love yourself and then you exude that confidence. You rocked that outfit by the way. Love the lace up shoes!

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  29. It is so important to feel comfortable and confident in the skin that you are in. You are just beautiful inside and out and I happen to know this first-hand.

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  30. Your hair is fabulous! You are also rocking that outfit. I wish I could wear white, but it would be dirty before I even leave the house. You look amazing.

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  31. I love that whole look, especially the shoes. Those are fire! I am definitely loving it! Amber N

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  32. Wow you look fantastic is that dress and I absolutely love your hair! This look suites you so well!

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  33. What a wonderful deep post! You're a beautiful lady and so inspirational in so many ways! Can we also just stop and admire your figure after 4 babies?! Holy moly if I look after one at least a fraction of what you do after 4 I'd be dancing! Just gorgeous!! x

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  34. I love it, we're moms and we should not be ashamed of what our bodies look like after birth. It's good that you realized that you should love your body and who you are. You'll find that you'll feel confident and beautiful once you accept your body. One more thing, you should totally wear that bikini, be proud!

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  35. I am a mom and I have earned my stripes. There was a time when I was looking at my out of shape round belly with stretch marks and said, Ack, my belly is just yucky looking now. My husband told me to never be ashamed of it because in that belly, I carried 3 children to term. I felt so much better after that and learned to accept the person I am now, big belly, stretch marks, crows'feet and all. I am woman. I am proud to be who I am.

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  36. You look so stunning! And that watch is gorg!

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  37. What a special post. This truly spoke to me. Last August I gave birth to our 7th child after a long hard battle with Gestational Diabetes. My body is not what it once was even a year or 2 years ago, and I am having a really hard time accepting that as I start my journey to a better me. This is really inspiring. I need to just own who I am, after all I did birth 7 babies. That is something to be proud of! - Jeanine

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  38. We all feel uncomfortable in our own skin sometimes. I am not a mother, but I am an aging woman and age takes a toll on our body, as we all know. I think it's really important that we learn to love ourselves, only then will those insecurities go away. I love how you appreciate your body and how confident you are! Continue to be an inspiration.

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  39. You look fabulous! That dress definitely looks great on you. And you're right, that watch is beautiful!

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  40. Such an important message - so easy to say, so hard to internalize and believe.

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  41. i love the outfit from the dress, boots and accessories. You look amazing!

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  42. Love the outfit! You definitely have the legs to pull it off.

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  43. I love this post. How uplifting! I have always been envious of women who get their figure back after giving birth. That really made me feel depressed. I used to say, "I would love it if I got back to my original weight." To which my husband would lovingly say, "You mean go back to be 6 pounds again?" LOL. I really believe that women are more critical of other women. It is in accepting and loving what you've grown into is what makes us beautiful. Thank you beautiful woman! You just made my day.

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  44. My gosh these pictures are FIERCE!!! and yes I agree on this 100% ... why be apologetic anyway right? xx

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  45. I love that dress and the way you accessorized it! I used to be hard on myself but at 35 and 3 kids later, I am more confident than ever.

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  46. I love your style and confidence. Every young lady should read this article. Do not be a product of what the media says you need to be, walk to your own beat.

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  47. Oh my gosh, I LOVED loved loved this post! Yes, it doesn't matter what size you are, just be you. Yes, we need to be a healthy you, but you look GREAT! Those shoes, the dress, I love it all! And you look fantastic to have four kids to be 40!! Love it all!!

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  48. You are beautiful just the way you are, don't think otherwise... I love that you shared your story and posted gorgeous pictures of yourself modeling... love the dress and, of course, love the watch!
    take care!

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  49. I love this post and I loooove your hair! This post is exactly how I feel right now. Preach it sister! Lets embrace real beauty.

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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=http://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=http://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=http://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=http://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)

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