As I entered my second week of shoots for this project, I got some disappointing feedback. A somewhat large number of people have backed out of getting their photos taken or have simply not replied. I have had multiple people tell me that they decided they do not want to do it because they really don't like their pictures taken and do not feel they will look good. This makes me sad and also makes me realize even more why I want to be doing this. The fact that so many people feel this badly about themselves is horrible. I've also been very surprised by some of the response. I have asked a couple of people if they would get their picture taken who have either laughed or gotten defensive and started talking about how horrible they look. I even had a person agree to it, but immediately say, "But if it looks horrible, just throw it out. You don't have to use my picture since I look bad in photos." To every one of these people, I said, "That is exactly why i'm doing this" and "That is the whole point of this project." I don't want anyone to feel that way anymore. More importantly, I don't want girls to grow up with these same insecurities.
I'm going to be honest. These responses were a big disappointment. I was so happy when people were excited at the beginning and many different women were eager to join in with photos. Now, I have 30+ slots that aren't being filled. On the other side of it, the women and girls that I have photographed so far have been amazing. They have been different ages, shapes, and sizes. Some have been completely comfortable in front of the camera, while others are not. A few said they don't like to get their picture taken and do not think they look good, but felt this was such an important project, they wanted to do it anyway. That is the attitude I wish everyone had.
I, myself, have always hated being in front of the camera. As I've shared, my self-esteem has been horrible in the past. I critique every picture of myself and even the ones that I like one day, I may hate the next. I have stopped feeling this way. I am even investing in my own head shots next week. Something happened as I started this project. I started to see myself differently and feel better about myself. I think it was a combination of sharing all of my struggles as well as hearing other people's stories. It made me realize that we are all struggling with this same issue, just in different ways (or the exact same way). I always had this belief that people who I saw as beautiful knew that they were. I now know that those same people also look at themselves in negative ways. I also started to realize, who is anyone to say what is beautiful and what is ugly? How did we get here to believe that the word beautiful only applies to certain criteria?
Why do we have to be a certain weight/size/shape to be beautiful? Why do we beat ourselves up if we don't fit the "perfect body type"? There is no perfect body type. Everyone is different. I've said it before and I'll say it again. One size and shape on one person may be totally wrong for another person.
I do have to say that part of the reason I feel better is due to my weight loss over the past few months. However, it is not about the weight. It is about feeling healthy and strong again. I felt out of shape and low energy for too long. When I feel healthy, strong, and energetic, I feel happy. I also feel happy because I do what I love, avoid negativity, enjoy the little things in life, and consciously make an effort to stay positive about everything. As I've said before, this isn't necessarily easy. But, I'd rather work hard and be happy than not work at it and be unhappy.
I am hoping that I can change people's minds and gather more people who see this project for what it is and realize that these photos will help them as well as others.
Now, because I always do, I'll finish with a quote.
“You are what you believe yourself to be.”―Paulo Coelho
Believe you are beautiful, believe you are worth it, believe you are strong, believe you can do anything you set your mind to. You will then be on your way to total happiness.
You are all beautiful inside and out,