Life has a funny tendency of kicking us the most when we're down on our luck. Wandering through hard times seems like a never-ending cycle, especially when the ones we love hurt us the most. Whether we're facing relationship chaos, financial catastrophe, or stress at work, we are all products of insecurities. Do we meet our stressors, worries, and troubles head-on, or do we file them away into tiny boxes camouflaged within our fictitious façade of glamour and positivity? I would argue that most of us use the excuse, "I'm working on myself," more than we care to admit, but are we really? There is always room for improvement in anything we do, but are we holding ourselves accountable for our actions, or are we slipping under the pressure of our lie's slippery slope?
This photo shoot was centered around the struggle of battling insecurities. Internal and external insecurities plague our world, and the presence of body shaming, discrimination, and bullying only heighten our vacillations. Facing our doubts head-on will never get easier, but if we hope to improve not only our self-esteems, but also, the world in which we live, it is a necessary unpleasantry.
Will you continue to be a product of your insecurities, or will you wear them like armor, and accept them, own them, and display them with pride?
For one of my school assignments, I decided to do a creative photography project around the idea of “the other” in society. It started as just another school project, but by the end, I was engrossed in the process, and I continued to wonder how else I could facilitate the conversation about the elimination of bullying, binary-reliance, and discrimination on social media. By entering myself into a dialogue that was previously closed, I explored the idea of “the other” firsthand, where I learned the true meaning of being different.
Seven looks, nine hours, and 1,500 photographs later, I had what I needed to start exploring, but it wasn’t until after I started to edit the pictures that the conversation really began. When we first started shooting, I didn’t think much of what I was wearing, or the work I was doing, it was just a pair of heels, a long, over-exaggerated coat, and some makeup – nothing bad could come from that, could it? After all, I was in a safe place with someone who loved me, so I had nothing to worry about. Upon completion, however, my friend, Grace O’Brien, who co-collaborated and photographed the project, told me how proud she was of me because it was “a big thing I just did.” I didn’t really think much of her comment at first, but when I jumped into the shower to wash off the grime of the makeup and the oils from shooting for nine hours, I instantly realized how much more the shower meant. For me, I dressed up like this for the project, so I could stretch my creativity, and further facilitate the discussion I mentioned earlier, but for some who don’t feel right in the body they are in, they dress up to return to their normal. I felt the need to wash away something that didn’t feel right, something I would be judged for, something that wasn’t me. This got me thinking about the thousands of people who don’t feel comfortable in the skin they’re in, and the only way to return to their normal, their safe-place, their equilibrium, is to put on the makeup, the heels, and the dresses, because for them, this is home.
Very quickly, this project’s importance grew exponentially in my eyes, and I finally felt like I was doing some important work that was more than just a school assignment. I took the idea and ran with it, and I cannot wait to continue to explore what “the other” has in store for me.
For the full experience, check out @tales_of_the_other on Instagram, and let me know what you think!