why self portraiture?
You may wonder why on earth I would decide to use self portraiture as a way to journal such a personal battle with my body and food addiction. Why would I choose to put myself out ‘there’ where I could be judged and criticised, especially when I have struggled with feeling as though I wasn’t good enough for most of my life?
Well for one thing, hiding myself away didn’t stop me from getting hurt. In fact the more I retreated from the world, the more painful that world became. As the wonderful Brené Brown says;
We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.
Oh how I wish I’d know that back then in the depths of hiding from the world, because it is so true. When you numb the pain, you also numb the joy of life. So I am putting my heart out there even though it may get trampled on, but I will survive and dust myself off and I may learn something invaluable in the process. More importantly I am no longer prepared to feel ashamed of myself or my body, and even though I am scared shitless of what I am doing, I am choosing to dance with my fear until it feels like an effortless waltz (not that I have any idea how to waltz in real life!) For years I would avoid photographs, or if I was forced into one I would contort my overly voluptuous frame into a side-on pose, as if that would somehow magically make me look like Elle Macpherson! There is an enormous absence of me from my photographic archives. I am barely in any photographs from the last ten years, my wedding day the one exception, but even then that only happened because I starved myself into a seemingly acceptable size (a whole other post I think!)
Despite creating beautiful portraits of others, I somehow felt that taking photographs of myself was vain and worse still, if other people knew they would think I was narcissistic. That fear is still there, but I’m no longer going to allow it to hold me back. I truly believe that photography can be used as a powerful tool for helping to heal body image issues, so I recently decided to dive head first into the world of self portraiture. Taking the Unravelling and Now You online e-courses has been more joyous than words can describe. I have blossomed. I have opened up with complete vulnerability and trust. Yes I have struggled and cried, and I have been angry and resentful, but mostly I have blossomed. I feel like a lotus flower drinking in the warmth of the sun and opening petal by petal. Looking at myself in photographs and not only liking them, but feeling love for myself is miraculous.
I read a beautiful post by Susannah this week about ‘superpowers‘ which made me start thinking about my own, and I knew almost immediately what they were. Empathy and compassion; these are my two greatest assets. Yes, wearing my heart on my sleeve can be painful but it can also be amazing as it allows me to connect deeply with others. It is these ‘superpowers’ of empathy and compassion that I am using in my own journey, by connecting with myself. I still have further to go, I feel I need to push my photographic boundaries. I need to take more full body shots for a start, but day by day I am getting there and I am learning to love myself. One reflection at a time.
That is why.