Monday, February 14, 2011

The truth as I see it. The truths my models bring to me.

I take these photographs.  I paint these paintings.  I learn about these women - the skinny ones, the fat ones, the fit ones, the sluggish ones, the old, the young...  Each of them is so perfect, so unique.  Each shares part of her story with me, and I feel such compassion, such empathy, such a strong desire to portray them as beautifully as I possibly can because that is the truth as I see it.

They tell me about themselves as children, about their operations, about their abortions, about their partners and their children, about their eating disorders, their abuse, their happy childhoods, their healthy upbringings.  They share with me how they feel about their bodies whether they use words or not.

I ask each woman try to find a word to describe how she wants to feel and appear in the photographs.  Here are some of their answers:

powerful, like a Goddess, strong, beautiful, graceful, prayerful, meditative, centered, calm, energetic

Some women are defiant - they will show their bodies if they damn well please.
Some pose because they know they need to/want to in order to march through their fear to the other side.

Some want to feel beautiful and think I can help.  Sometimes I can.  Sometimes I can't.  I try.

Some have had eating disorders or other issues about their bodies.
They might be shy about posing nude for me, a virtual stranger. They might believe they look too fat or too skinny or too tall or too muscular or too ...  whatever their loved ones have sadly led them to believe was true.

Some are defiant yet scared.
Some pose then know it is the right thing to ask me never to paint them.  They want to not be seen by all.  Yet they wanted/needed to pose.

Some are simply comfortable with who they are.  They revel in the feel of the air on their skin.  They love feeling the warmth of the lights on their skin.  They dance.  They move.  They close their eyes and feel the grace they were born with.  They love the feel of their muscles and skin and hair.

Some have hated their bodies in the past but done so much work that they are in a different place now and want to celebrate it.

Some have me photograph their scars and tell me the heroic stories that accompany such fascinating beauty.

Some are awkward at first and move stiffly until they realize they are safe and seen with compassion.  Their reserve melts.  A magical moment occurs and they allow themselves to be.  To just simply be.  Be in their own skin, naked, and seen by another.

Some weep with joy at the freedom.

Some blame me for the shock.

Some are wounded because they needed to say no to modeling but didn't.
Some move through the myriad feelings and come out different.

Some are healed.

All tell me stories I am honored to hear.  All share a most precious gift - vulnerability and trust.
It is one of my deepest wishes that I honor that trust and give these women the gift of being seen with love and honored for the beauty that shines from within.

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