I’ve been struggling with writers block this week, or rather the reverse. I have so much that I want to share that every time I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, my brain wants to just dump it all. I am now so acutely aware that there are people reading my words (even if only a handful) and so there is a certain amount of pressure (entirely self created, I might add) to write something that is insightful, meaningful, heartfelt or helpful with each post. It’s a bit like singing in the shower with the window open, revelling at the top of your voice with the pure joy of it, not really caring if anyone can hear, and then suddenly becoming self conscious as you notice an audience listening through the window. It’s what you wanted but you are suddenly aware that you are stark naked for everyone to see, and that realisation is terrifying.
However a few things have pushed me to lean into my vulnerability and get blogging. Earlier this week I came across an incredible post about an artist called Julia Kozerski who lost 160lbs in one year. She chose to document the changes to her body in a series of self portraits titled Half which she describes as;
I genuinely believed that my hard work and dedication would transform me into that “perfect” person of my dreams, the reality of what has resulted is quite the opposite. They serve as reflections of my experience and address and explore my physically and emotionally painful, private struggles with food, obsession, self-control, and self-image. These brutally honest images shed light on the truth of what it is like for me to live life as Half of myself.
When I saw these photographs I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug Julia and thank her for her bravery. In sharing these deeply personal and vulnerable self portraits with the world, she is unashamedly claiming her worthiness, and is giving permission to others to do the same. I truly believe that the more images we see like these, that represent the huge variety in body shapes and sizes, the more comfortable we will be in our own skin, and perhaps we’ll be more forgiving of ourselves when we don’t look like the latest airbrushed supermodel or actress. I don’t quite have the courage of Julia yet, but I certainly hope this will grow in time.
The second seed of inspiration was Lady Gaga’s honest and courageous photograph of herself in a bikini with the single line “bulimia and anorexia since I was 15″ . She then encouraged her fans to do the same as part of the Body Revolution;
Be brave and celebrate with us your ‘perceived flaws,’ as society tells us. Now that the body revolution has begun, be brave and post a photo of you that celebrates your triumph over insecurities.
Since posting that photograph thousands of others have been emboldened by her courage and followed suit sharing their own insecurities, and perceived flaws in photos. It is truly moving and humbling to see such courage spill forth and makes me feel that little bit braver.
My final push this week came from the Queen of Vulnerabilty, Brené Brown herself. Brené is holding a read-along on her blog for her new book ‘Daring Greatly’ accompanied by a weekly podcast, and as I listened to the first session earlier today I was so moved by her willingness to put herself out there and be vulnerable even though she might fail. It was this point, about being vulnerable despite the possibility of pain or failure that really struck home to me. I know what has been truly holding me back is my fear of being hurt. I am terrified of receiving an awful comment on my blog (about my body in particular) because I know it would rip into my soul, or even worse someone I know personally reading it, and thinking less of me because of it. However the courage of these three amazing women has helped me to realise that, even though it might be painful, being vulnerable and wholehearted is worth the risk. And so Brené asks;
What’s worth doing even if we fail?
My answer to that question, is this what I’m doing right now, which is putting my heart and soul on a platter in the hope of inspiring others. So in the spirit of ‘daring greatly’ I wanted to share this photo which is one of the most personal and vulnerable self portraits I have taken to date, mostly because I’m pretty much naked! It was taken recently as part of the self portraiture course (which I talked about here,) and until now had only been shared in a private Flickr group. Taking this photo was challenging but I wanted to push through until I’d captured an image that I liked both aesthetically and that also told the story I wanted to share. In essence the image represents where my breasts ‘should’ be and where my breasts are because the skin has stretched and deflated like a balloon due to the physical torment I have inflicted on my poor body. I chose the heart not just to hide my modesty, but to remind myself that I am worthy of love just as I am. Even though there are so many body flaws I can see in this photo and I feel completely exposed, I feel like I need to share it. I mean vulnerablity isn’t supposed to be easy, and Brené doesn’t say ‘let’s dare lightly!’ So this is me daring greatly, putting myself out there, hoping that I can inspire you to feel more accepting of your lovely body and your wonderful self, ‘percieved’ flaws and all, because you are enough.
We are all enough. Just. As. We. Are.