When I was in my twenties, I can remember weekend nights when I would tell my friends I was busy. I would then pull down the shades and spend the evening with my camera, tripod, and a multitude of costumes. As a fine arts major, I always had an excuse for playing dress up. I would take many of my photographs and use them as studies for my paintings. Although on the surface, this kind of thing might reek of some undeniable narcissism on my part- it had a lot more to do with the opposite. I was uncomfortable in my skin and I had no idea who I was supposed to be. Through my pictures and paintings, I forced myself to be in relationship with a subject matter that often felt incredibly foreign. I am not sure how I became so painfully insecure. I wish I knew so that I could do everything in my power to ensure that my daughter doesn't suffer the same fate.
At some point, I began to understand that I could really be whatever I chose. Through painting, I understood my face. The shape of my mouth, the color of my eyes, the line of my jaw. I would look at others, and notice how we shared characteristics - and if I could find beauty in them, I must also be beautiful. I began to appreciate that I did not conform to what the standard of beauty was in many ways, but it didn't matter. I could be my own type of beautiful. Of course, I now realize that acceptance of your physical self is a moving target. With each passing day, the physical me changes. I remember a few months ago having a realization that looking back at my younger self, I can indeed see how I was so much prettier than I ever gave myself credit. I wonder if when I am eighty I will look back at my 45 year old self and think the same thing.
Cancer is not pretty. I pass mirrors and don't recognize myself. A bald and moon shaped face stares back at me where I once was. (They call it chemo-bloat) My physical body is pale and exhausted. So what can I do to accept this new me? Take pictures of course! After the kids were in bed, I spent time putting on my makeup and had a photo session. I would highly recommend it. I don't know if I accept what I look like as of yet, and I know it will continue to change. But forcing myself to spend time with my new self feels healing.
Hope you enjoy today's calaca:-) For more calaca love, visit Rebecca's blog here!