My self-portrait project raised some issues for me when it comes to body image, but being judgmental of my body is not the only way to be hard on myself. I was reminded of that today.
It was one of those cliché-ridden days. The kind where I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and never should have gotten out of it. But I did and by afternoon had already missed an important interview for work because I had the wrong day. Tonight I had another appointment and was then supposed to head off to my photography class, but when my appointment ran long I realized I would be getting to class very late. I could choose to still go and miss a substantial amount of class, which could be disruptive, or call up and cancel. I chose the latter, but felt guilty about it. First, of all I really respect the teacher, who has become a friend, and second, I had actually worked hard on the assignment this week – taking the photos on color and light that I posted yesterday. I worried that I made the wrong choice and then I worried some more.
How could I have missed the appointment earlier in the day? Was I forgetting things because I was overworked, overbooked? Was I wrong to have taken the photography class in the first place? Was there any way I could have left the appointment earlier and not have been late for class? Should I still have shown up?
Everyone, I’m sure, beats themselves up once in awhile, but I don’t seem to know when to call it a day. By the time I was done questioning myself I couldn’t tell what I really wanted in the first place – to be at class or to go home guilt free? What’s wrong with me? I asked again and suddenly mid-thought, I realized: No one’s upset here except you; no one else is holding you accountable. This is Kim on Kim and you are a hard taskmaster. Your appointment ran overtime, you chose not to show up late, you let the instructor know. It’s over, move on. Let yourself off the hook.
I was scared. When things were laid bare and I could see the monster, I discovered it was me. A sobering thought with a happy flip side: just like I learned that I can be more forgiving of my body, I can also be more forgiving of other aspects of myself. I have been judge, juror and jailor to a woman trying very hard just to be free. Perhaps now I can be liberator instead.
About the photos: I wasn't sure how to handle these photos. The child photo shows me in the tub and as I have already mentioned, I've never been too happy about sharing that type of photo. It also was pretty revealing, so I didn't feel comfortable showing it in its original form. It seemed like such a childhood shot required something similar as an adult, but I wasn't comfortable with a real nude. Instead I set up the camera and took this adult shot, which shows a little skin, but nothing too risque. I'm still uncomfortable, however, with seeing myself in such a sensual way, and chose once again not to share it on Facebook. I used some filters to change the photos to black-and-white and mask some of the more delicate elements. I was going to use these two shots to write more about sensuality and the body, but after today I realized there is more than one way to be laid bare, more than one truth to be discovered in these photos.
The adult shot not only suggests sensuality, but vulnerability. I think many of us consider vulnerability to be a weakness and try to avoid feeling this way. It's dictionary definition means being open to harm. But, vulnerability is also a pure and honest emotion and there is a beauty in it. To look at my reflection in my photos and my actions is to be laid bare and to be made vulnerable. I am trying to find the beauty in what I see and to be kinder to this child and this woman in every way.
Writing Prompt: In what ways are you hard on yourself? How can you be more forgiving?