self reflections

Posted on Sep 14, 2012 in portraiture, self love | 10 Comments

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.

10 Comments

  1. Shannon
    September 14, 2012

    Your courage and openness truly inspires me. I may have different inherent struggles than you, but I feel every single word you write. I am so proud of you for posting this, and making such a positive place for yourself, and for countless others, that experience fear and emotional pain. I am in the midst of that same kind of personal battle to resist the urge to retreat from everything, and so I find your expeirences and your words encouraging.

    xo

    Reply
    • Danielle
      September 14, 2012

      Thank you for your kind words Shannon. I applaud your courage and your grit to resist that urge. I only know that feeling too well and it is such a slippery path, so reach out, connect and make sure you take it one day at a time. Big hugs xx

      Reply
  2. Terry Gassett
    September 15, 2012

    “choosing to dance with my fear until it becomes an effortless waltz.” I LOVE that and I admire your courage in choosing to dance!

    Reply
  3. Maribeth
    September 15, 2012

    Such a beautiful post Danielle! I’ve battled with my body image for most of my life. For me, learning loving kindness and sharing in a compassionate community has helped turn that negative image around. I’m not there YET but I’m making forward progress. As you said, hiding away doesn’t prevent the hurt. Stepping out and sharing can make such a huge difference, as terrifying as it can be. Kudos to you for stepping up and out. ♥

    Reply
  4. Emily
    September 15, 2012

    Bravo on yet another beautiful post, Danielle. Your writing is so authentic and genuine, a true gift. Every word you write and post resonates with me on some level, although perhaps not from the same life perspective. Well done, I always look forward to your posts, thank you.

    Reply
  5. L.McG.-E.
    September 15, 2012

    What a beautiful, honest and meaningful post. So good that you are finding yourself through finding your voice and your image in self-portraiture.

    Reply
  6. Kelly
    September 16, 2012

    Danielle, your writing and ability to share a story is absolutely beautiful – I so enjoy reading your posts. I identify with the fear that arrises when you unnumb the pain – it does make you vulnerable, but ive learned it makes you feel alive! On a side note -ADORE your self portraits!

    Reply
  7. Julie Einstein
    September 16, 2012

    Wow, so I just commented on yor fb page before I read your post because I ‘got’ what you were talking about just by the title of your post. Now after reading your courageous words I see that we both felt the same way about ‘selfies’. Way to step into your vulnerability. You are an inspiration. Keep it up and keep sending the message. We need to hear this, have access to this-to you and your words on a regular basis because it doesn’t take much to trigger old behaviors of choosing to hide out

    Reply
  8. Danielle
    September 16, 2012

    Wow, thank you all of you for your wonderful comments, it is both humbling and encouraging and makes me feel that putting my heart out there is worthwhile. I really appreciate you all taking the time to leave a comment, it means a great deal to me. With deep gratitude xx

    Reply
  9. Jenny Fisher
    September 18, 2012

    Beautiful post and I can also identify with the issue of weight and body image and with numbing out. You have some truly beautiful photos. Self portraits never looked so inspirational. Gorgeous.

    Reply

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