09 Jul Leaving Marks: We are stronger together
She was one of my most enthusiastic volunteers. She sent me excited- and then impatient- emails asking when we’d be starting shooting, she was one of the first to sign up, she shared everything on Facebook so we could get more momentum.
But on the day of the shoot, she was quiet. She supported the other women, but she kept her words close. Hidden. She waited until last, until there was nowhere to look but at herself.
Whenever I see the nard words, the cruel words people paint themselves with- the ones that cut them, contain them, make them small- it hurts me. But this… was hurt of a whole new kind. Vicious and aching, the words she chose cut bone-deep. Heart-deep. Ugly. Unloveable. Fat. Alone. Unwanted. Disgusting. None of these describe the woman I see.
But we save the good for last, most times. We start out with the painful part and then we find the uplifting other side, the kindnesses, the strength.
Not this time. The only word she brought to be kind to herself with was “curvy.”
One of my rules for the project is that we don’t judge. As painful as it may be to write “fake” or “unloveable” or “ugly” on someone, as vehemently as we disagree, we don’t get to tell people they are wrong. Changing those words is a process of healing, and it is very personal. You can’t force or rush it.
But I also couldn’t bear to let this beautiful, strong, enthusiastic woman sit for me without seeing what we all saw. So after I took her “official” photos, I and the other women present took up our brushes a second time
We Are Stronger Together
You are brave. Loveable. Vibrant. Beautiful. And until you can see it in yourself, allow us to lend you our eyes, our hearts, and our words.
PierrePosted at 21:52h, 09 July
I remember talking to this lovely young lady when she first mentioned the project. She told me she was scared and in tears during the shoot. I really did not truly understand why until I read this post.
I had no idea her emotional scars ran that deep. I had tears in my eyes reading your description of the shoot. I have the same feelings about myself and internalize just as she does. This hit me hard.
I know her as a beautiful young woman who has an incredible talent as a weaver of cloth. A woman who is always willing to help others even if just an ear to listen, or a shoulder to lean on.
I want to thank you for doing the extra shots as I hope that she was able to see that she is loved just as much by those around her who receive her love.
And from looking at the final pictures, I think it worked.
I want to give you, and all the ladies in this project, a big round of applause as I am sure some soul searching was done to be able to throw caution to the wind and go for it.
Healing was done and friendships where made.
Bravo ladies and well done. You are all beautiful.
KelseyPosted at 22:51h, 09 July
I’m sorry that anyone has ever called you ugly, or unlovable, or those other terrible things! You’re too precious and wonderful for words like that. You are a real true friend with great talents and skills and I am so pleased to call you my friend.
May I also add that I am jealous of your skin? I’m nearly polka dotted I have so many moles. I know beauty is more than skin deep but. . . We have to know our physical bodies are beautiful too. And yours is.
I love you.