Under the Skin: It's Body Confidence Day + it's a Work in Progress

Today is Body Confidence day. In celebration of our constantly evolving relationships, we're introducing a short series of essays on what it means now. 

This photo was taken two years ago, when I was most afraid of having my photo taken.

This photo was taken two years ago, when I was most afraid of having my photo taken.

Bodies are such interesting things - Mine - an amalgamation of my face, waist-hip ratio, and height - was used to pay for the analysis of all of this as I later went to school for metaphysics. I used my education as a ticket to think about something else for a while - something less selfish, less terrifying. By 2013, thoughts about my body took up way too much of my life - all of which were totally invited, totally expected, because my body was, frankly, my job.

I would eventually grow to fear the camera, which - thinking about this early-twenties woman in the lens of her older self - was...is, certainly, a damn shame. A lot of my friends are photographers, partially because of proximity, mainly because our personalities and inquisitive natures mesh, but, over the past five years, there grew to be a division when they’d raise a lens to my face. I was terrified of them, in some ways, then. I think, though I now push myself every few weeks to go on set, to do photo shoots, to work on projects that are meaningful to me and others, I still am. I'm 23, only...I know that I'm young. I know that I'm learning. I know that I won't be afraid forever, and as most of my instinct to hide has fallen away...I'm open to that growth.

As a teen, designers would build collections for (much older) women around my body; setting up the rest of society to question theirs while I would wake up, terrified, wondering if mine would still be "good enough." The span of 12 hours, to some, seems trivial. To me, in a career that generally last years, the prime years of our youthful lives, 12 hours felt like everything, the divide between being pronounced beautiful and over. That’s the thing when you champion 16 year olds in an industry I can’t even afford at 23 - it sets all of us up to feel the deafening pangs of inadequacy, for a culture of gas lighting and carrot chasing that doesn’t really gel for 2017. Makeup brands would paint my face and sell their products through the lens of my symmetry, selling thick brow gels because mine were trendy, or lash-giving mascaras because my big eyes made them pop more. Little pieces of me were lauded with praise and others were told to go away, and I didn’t know how to balance those semantic peaks and valleys. In hindsight, I hope we stop looking at ourselves like a pie chart - bits we only slightly love, other parts we tolerate, like that one bouquet of roses in a deli nobody buys because one of the blooms is dying. 

My relationship with my body is so nuanced...any statement I’ll make about it is nebulous to say the least. But I love myself, and most importantly, I would never, ever, ever, wish to live in anybody else’s body but my own. I think that really says it all, all things considered. 

Love you.