At the age of 16 years old I decided that I would try to make my body “good enough” for a modelling agency. It was my dream to model. Therefore, I took my weight and looks into my own hands, with one goal in mind: acceptance. Growing up I had had no thought about my outer appearance or much care for it. I loved food and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to restrict such a joy in our lives. However I suddenly became obsessed with the idea of being accepted by an agency, and I believed that if I was, I would have “made it”. Initially my dream for modelling was to be a presence of purity in an industry that promoted the opposite. I hoped to be a role model, someone that would stand for something different and tell life changing stories of the miracles I encountered, truths I discovered and hope I tangibly felt. This is where my dream began. I had wild vision and little understanding of how that would happen.
However at the time of when these dreams were birthed, I didn’t have many people around me who knew about this dream or the importance of identity. So I slowly allowed other things to influence my sense of identity and worth. As a result, I slowly lost more and more weight. In my opinion, I felt the same and saw no difference to my body, believing the exercise and restricted eating wasn’t making a difference. However over time friends and family began to worry and started to comment on my health. I was deceived and in denial at this point.
My turning point happened up in a tree house with one of my best friends. She kindly asked me to go and see a doctor to get my weight checked, as she suggested I was underweight, especially as I hadn’t had my period for a while by that point. I was shocked she thought this, but agreed to visit the doctor to make her happy. The next week came the shock of my life. After hearing I was on the verge of anorexia from the doctors, I realised the very thing I was controlling had taken control of me. This moment of confusion and anger threw me into a mix so many questions, fears, anxieties and disbelief. It made me question what I could trust, who I could trust, what ‘true beauty was?’ and I wondered how I did not see this reality unfold? In this moment of harsh reality, truth pierced through the lies within me – the revelation that beauty wasn’t found in being super skinny slapped me around the face. As apparently I was too skinny and yet I didn’t feel that and couldn’t even see it!
I was broken by this news and cried the whole way home in disbelief. I had judged others who had struggled with eating disorders, thinking I would never go through that. Yet there I was right in the middle of it. The next few months I was confronted even more with the truth of my situation. It was scary to see how I had displaced my fears and uncomfortable emotions with restricting food and increasing exercise. I honestly struggled to articulate my heart or know what was going on inside. Simple feelings I would try to avoid. It was through counselling and art therapy that I found a safe space to “just be” and to be real and honest with myself and my emotions. Through letting out my tears I found healing. I would just draw when I didn’t have the words to express the feeling inside. Through just being I found the echo of my heart cry.
Through this process I saw the power of vulnerability and that there is strength in weakness and asking for help. I had always thought accepting help was a weakness – but through this journey I realised it was actually a real step of courage and strength. The more I said “yes” to it, the more I saw progress and new glimpses of freedom and clarity.
During this time, anxiety levels were high for me and I struggled to make decisions. Life felt overwhelming. I feared regret, failure and making mistakes. However I started to challenge this feeling and realised it didn’t align with the definition of “grace”. Grace is about bringing beauty from mistakes and receiving what I do not deserve. I couldn’t understand this. I felt ashamed of myself and as a result I hid from friends and didn’t tell people about what I was facing, in order to keep up a facade to protect myself. It was crippling and humiliating. Over time I got used to the feeling of shame and humiliation, I almost wore it like a cloak.
In 2014-15, whilst I was on a foundation art course in Falmouth, I decided to face the fears, shame and feelings of “not being good enough to model“. I faced the camera and lies with courage. Instead of letting the fears make me run away, I became deeply inspired by Nelson Mandela, who famously quotes that:
“behind our fears lies our destinies”.
So as I faced the fears I started to see freedom arise. I was surprised when I looked into the camera for the first time that I was able to replace the flood of negative thoughts with the truth of who I am. Something significant happened on the inside of me each time I believed the truth. On one particular shoot that I will never forget, I heard a voice in my head as I looked into the lens say to me: “you are enough as you are“. This was the moment everything changed. I suddenly saw myself in a new way as the lies melted away in the presence of this piercing truth. I saw a glimpse that life could be different and better than what I was currently experiencing. “Truth sets us free” rung true as I could feel freedom breaking through as my mind began to be transformed with these words of radical truth. As I changed into each new outfit I would hear a different part of my character and began to repeat the word I felt over myself. The result of this was life changing and even the photographer could tell something had changed inside of me, as the photo was evidence of this.
I decided I would track my journey throughout this process. I believed at the time that my journey could be an inspiration to others to never give up, to turn ones breakdown into their breakthrough and instead of self destruction to dive deeper into learning to see our true reflection.
BEAUTY COMES FROM BEING YOU! IT STARTS IN OUR MIND!
As a result of finding freedom in front of the lens, through creativity and writing, each blog post is directed towards discovering deeper truths, sharing miracles, stories and reflections on my journey in learning to appreciate more and more of who I am made to be. They are created to inspire others that we each are a masterpiece to be loved and appreciated. There are truths within us that only we can bring. I hope to share my journey with you to raise hope, faith and vision. It is time to break boxes especially in regards to how we view beauty and I want to unashamedly share my personal insights along the way. Our testimonies can become others prophesies, so may my journey ignite hope in you to believe that it can be the same for you. Freedom and hope are possible in every situation. Our perspective and the lens through which we see our lives changes everything.
Remember to always look through a ‘lens of liberty’….
IT IS TRUTH THAT SETS US FREE!