One of the most important messages I would like to get across with my work, whether it be writing or photography, is the importance of practicing self-love, loving yourself exactly as you are, flaws and all.
It is not an easy task, and sometimes it can feel downright radical. It is a small act of rebellion against the forces that are at work to make us feel less-- less beautiful and deserving than a skinny, white woman who looks like she's 23.
I encourage women of every type to get in front of the camera, to allow themselves to be included, represented, honored.
But despite my encouragements, I still struggle with it too. I still have a difficult time when I hand my camera over and get in front of the lens.
I love myself; I really do. I look in the mirror most days, contort my face in some manner that only I think is my most flattering expression and think happy, kind thoughts about myself. In general, I think, despite the fact that I am fat*, I have great self-esteem. I go through my days feeling pretty good about myself.
But that still doesn't mean that pictures can't get me down. The picture doesn't move. Once it exists, there's no floating your arm away from your body so the chubb doesn't squish, no craning your neck a little farther to get rid of the double chin. Unlike the preening in front of the mirror, once the light has been captured, the flaws are there to stay.
But you know what, none of that matters. The best pictures, they aren't about the flaws that your eyes dart to first thing. The best photographs have captured something bigger and more powerful. They've captured the love for you radiate. The kindness you exude. They capture your strength. Your determination. Your thoughtfulness.
A couple of days ago I asked Tom to take pictures, which admittedly is not his greatest skill, but even that doesn't matter. What matters is that there are a few more frames with me in it. A few more moments to look back on when I'm older and grayer.
*Come back soon to read a piece I wrote last year about the word fat, which is, despite what so many of have been taught to believe, just a descriptor. No better or worse than any other descriptor. Tall, short, blonde, brunette, thin, fat. Just words.