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.