You’re too tall. You’re too pale. Too big, too flat, too boyish, too old.
These thoughts bleed into my soul far too often.
You, too, probably have criticized yourself for being too something. We talk about body positivity, about self-love, about girls supporting girls. But most of us succumb to self-judgment at least some of the time.
“Standing out” is something we celebrate and applaud; “sticking out” conjures fears of lacking community and support. I’ve worried about sticking out ever since I was old enough to be aware of social culture. From being nearly six feet tall to having small breasts to likely being unable to have children, I’ve often felt apart from and awkward around other women. I’ve felt like an outsider because I’m too this or too that, too much or not enough. And in the end, I tend to be the one who holds myself apart from the community I so long for.
As we prepared for this photoshoot on a sticky Canada Day weekend, I shared the space with six beautiful women (and a very cute cat). The models and photographers all were significantly younger than me, and as we models undressed, I worried that all of those “too” fears would come flooding back. I know the tricks my mind can play.
Instead, I found kind hearts and minds, gathered to celebrate feminine beauty in all its forms. For an afternoon, at least, I had my community. We were seven strong women creating art, honouring one another’s beauty, softness and power.
Before we began, I sat with one of the photographers as she painted my eyelids.
“You’re a work of art, my dear,” she said dreamily, a near-whisper.
Her words reminded me of why I started art modelling more than a decade ago. I hope to see myself as others say they do, to trust a photographer to show me the grace that often eludes my own eyes.
And so, I’m still learning to be OK with myself as I am. We all are still learning.
Thunder Bay, July 2018