For the last three years I have been taking self portraits of myself.
I’ve always shied away from the camera – ironic seeing as I love to photograph others. I have a physical defect, a lazy eye, something that prompted a lot of bullying throughout my life. This has led to a huge complex about my looks and my face in particular.
I still struggle decades later but then I lost my Father. I hardly have any pictures of him and it made me see the importance of being present in the story. When I had my children, I struggled for years to make sure I was present in photos and only managed it every now and again. It usually involved my husband taking quick pictures on the phone while I put on a cheesy smile.
And then one day I looked at myself, my jiggly belly, the lazy eye and I said, my body has given me children, it has created life. I should celebrate that. It was then that I decided to start photographing myself, with the girls and without. Over time I have slowly grown to love myself and my body.
I don’t always include a picture of me looking straight at the camera – I still struggle with that, though things are better now!
A couple years ago now, I was interviewed for the Your Stories feature on the For The Love of the Photograph blog. I look at those images, and I still love them. I am beautiful, in my own way. A quote that I have come to love continues to come to mind when I review the images I have taken of myself:
And I said to my body. Softly. ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath. And replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’ – Nayyirah Waheed
Isn’t it incredible? I try and remember it every time I find myself criticising my looks in the mirror, and then I go photograph myself.
And I plan to continue to do so for the rest of my life. I refuse to allow myself to disappear. For my children, so they too can know how to love their own bodies.