We went to a wedding recently, and my husband’s jaw dropped when he saw me dressed up. At one point during the evening, even my grandmother leaned over and whispered, “I can see the love eyes he keeps giving you.” I couldn’t blame him–I knew I looked good.

Then somebody took a photo, and I looked at it, right there in the middle of a laughing crowd on a wedding dancefloor. The woman I saw had cute earrings and nice hair, but she looked pounds heavier than I felt and not nearly as glamorous. Nevermind the bad lighting, I felt like Wonder Woman, but she looked like–Not Wonder Woman.

And right there, with the crowds swirling around me and the music blaring, I found my watershed moment. I’ve spent my whole life assuming photos always tells the truth, and mirrors never lie. I’ve knocked my estimation of my own beauty and sexiness down peg after peg because if the photo says I’m not sexy, I must not be sexy.

But the photo doesn’t tell the whole story, does it? It doesn’t tell you how brave and vulnerable I am right now, starting a business at 30 with three small children. It doesn’t tell you how I laugh, share, listen openly and honestly to the people around me. Maybe it makes it obvious that I’ve given birth to three children, but it doesn’t say anything about the patience, pain, and love that I’ve poured out all these years. It doesn’t tell the real story.

Photos and mirrors sketch out the bones and the skin, but we know deeply how different a house and a home are, don’t we? A house is just a skeleton–wood and bricks and drywall assembled into a structure–but a home is a place where love happens. You love it because it’s filled out with people you love and memories that delight you and life and you love it because it’s yours.

I’m a helluva lot more than a collection of bones and skin, and my beauty and sexiness is far more than the sum of my parts. I’m a living, breathing collection of happiness and snarkiness and good hair days and acne prone skin and arms that rock babies like a boss and two really great legs. I am sexy. I don’t care what those pictures say.

Sarah Guerrero

Sarah has three small children. A year ago, she got so desperate for friends that she created Stand For Mom, an online community for women doing that weird thing in between “full time working mom” and “stay at home mom.” You can join them here.