With Megan Brusseau
Yesterday I discovered a playground where I could celebrate myself and my recovery from anorexia nervosa: I explored my playfulness, I explored my sensuality, I explored my vulnerability and my femininity. That playground took the form of a cozy home photography studio set up by Megan Brusseau. Megan made me feel at home in my body - a feeling which started escaping me when I hit puberty and which has proved incredibly difficult to regain. She helped me tap into the qualities that I embody emotionally, pushing aside the preconceptions I have of what my body symbolises.
My mind likes to tell me many things about my body...
that the size of my waist dictates my sensuality and worthiness as a woman
that my body fat percentage represents my willpower and discipline
that the definition of my muscles proves my strength and commitment to hard work
(to list but three of the beliefs that have tortured me the most over the years)
... and that if those things don't match my own and society's standards of beauty, I am not lovable, acceptable or worthy.
Anorexia nervosa had been anchoring me to an island of safety, away from the fear of rejection. Restriction provided the roots that were grounding me, and tying me down. Control became the core of my sense of comfort, protecting me from challenge. I felt like I was doing everything in my power to make myself lovable, acceptable and worthy. In reality, I was obsessing so much over what I believed my body should illustrate that I became alienated and distant from myself, and everyone around me. My personality drifted so far to the edge of my awareness that I imagined all my interactions, all my achievements and failures, my whole being, depended on what I looked like. These ideas become so ingrained in my belief system that I'm still far from free of them, but I am starting to appreciate my qualities as a person.
In 'Muting the Voice of my Eating Disorder' I shared with you all my very first attempt at celebrating my body. I stood in front of the mirror with my phone and stepped off the cliff that had been keeping me safe for so long. Taking those photos felt like diving into the unknown, with no idea where I would land. Leaving anorexia behind meant shedding the fortress I'd built around myself - the roots were unearthed, the core ripped out. I've been left feeling raw and exposed over the last couple of months, tumbling into uncertainty. As terrifying as it is, falling is showing me a whole new side to life. It's showing me who I am.
So what makes me, ME? I think I can finally answer that question...
I'm curious and playful
I'm dedicated and hardworking
I'm full of love and desperate to share it
I'm also a woman who got her third period. It was a funny coincidence that my period started the morning of the shoot. I could have cancelled. I almost wrote the day off, seeing the period bloat and puffiness that comes with my cycles. I thought,
'I'm just going to waste everyone's time today,
I look too awful to get any decent photos'.
But instead, I decided to make the most of it. I knew it would mean being even more honest, even more brave. I couldn't have done it without such an incredible friend and photographer. Megan helped me celebrate the fact that my body is happy enough now to function properly. She helped me realise that I don't need to be or look perfect to simply be happy and create something special. I laughed, I smiled, I almost cried again, and I had the best day exposing my deepest insecurities.
I hope my smile brings a smile to your face. For those of you going through tough times, I hope these photos will encourage you to take the plunge and face your fears head on. I hope that sharing this with you goes some way towards creating a more accepting and loving future for us all.