The Body Project

5 Ways That We Hide

Last week Thursday, two friends and I attended a presentation in Madison, WI about beauty called Dream Big: You Are Beautiful and It's Time for You to Believe It. First of all, the woman who did the presentation, Kyira Hauer, totally fucking rocked it. She is the founder of #ReclaimBeauty and an advocate of embracing ones authenticity. After telling her amazing story, she dug into the five ways that we hide our true selves. And they took me back because some of these five things were unexpected.

5 Ways of Hiding

  • Over-perfecting: trying to maintain a specific order; rigidity; not starting things until everything is perfect.
  • Over-spending: trying to keep up with the "extras" you need to keep up appearances. 
  • Over-analyzing: worrying too much about outcomes you have no control over the what-ifs
  • Over-caring: caring too much about what others think or how you fit in
  • Over-comparing: building yourself up or tearing yourself down based on subjective experience of others

I've definitely found myself hiding behind a number of these, but the biggest one is over-perfecting. Sometimes, I won't start things until conditions are right or I won't finish things until everything is up to my expectations. Sometimes, I'll adjust a piece of furniture in my house because it's askew! I can drive myself crazy with my rigidities and have even found myself blocking intimacy in times of deep rigidity and not wanting to break from my order of things. 

So, how can we see/show ourselves and see each other more?

Maybe it starts with acknowledging how we hide, and then we dig our way out of hiding by being vulnerable. That's what I did in today's video.

Okay. Talk to me.

Did one of those ways of hiding hit you? How do you hide? And how do you (or do you want to) dig your way out of hiding? Share with me in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.

 

JOIN OUR TRIBE to continue having these conversations. We have lots to discuss and share!

Advocate of Love & Co.

A little glimpse of The Body Project mini gallery setup at UW-Waukesha. Candids of this event by Kasey K. Photo.
A little glimpse of The Body Project mini gallery setup at UW-Waukesha. Candids of this event by Kasey K. Photo.

Confession

I struggle with labels, in the sense that I don't know how to use them or whether I want to use them.

Let me explain

When I went to UW-Waukesha to set up the mini gallery of The Body Project, I was greeted with such enthusiasm and kindness and felt a little overwhelmed, yet honored, by the special attention, which afterward, had me in a bit of a panic.

I'm not an expert on body advocacy. I'm not an expert on photography. I don't have all the answers nor do I feel comfortable being regarded as the only person in the room with the most knowledge about these two subjects.

Laughing with a couple of professors at The Body Project mini gallery in UW-Waukesha while a student checks out the book! Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.
Laughing with a couple of professors at The Body Project mini gallery in UW-Waukesha while a student checks out the book! Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.

Cue Freak Out

My brain ran through the gamut of questions I might receive and a few scenarios of me being completely struck speechless by a question I wouldn't be able to answer. And then, a few lovely people in my life said some beautiful things to me. These quotes are the gist of what they said:

"Regardless of what you know, you do know that you worked your ass off for an entire year on this project. That is a big deal, and that's what they want to know about. They want to know about these women and why you did this project."

And this piece of advice that made me laugh, because truth:

"It's not about you." Let that sink in. Lol! Then she furthered with, "It's about them and what they need to know and implement into their own lives. You're there to give them the tools so they can figure it out themselves, whatever it is."

Sharing one of the participant's stories with some students of UW-Waukesha at The Body Project mini gallery. Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.
Sharing one of the participant's stories with some students of UW-Waukesha at The Body Project mini gallery. Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.

The Challenge

And so I went, and it was perfect because it happened the way it needed to, regardless of my worry. But yesterday, this was my reflection in my journal:

Lately, it feels like I've reflected on many large topics: loneliness, love, friendships and their meaning, aging, spirituality, time, and connectedness, and I don't dwell or linger long. However, I seem to hold each of them and taste them for a moment to experience the energy each topic brings, if only momentarily, and I think it's increasing my compassion (one of my goals since starting The Body Project). People simply want to be loved, appreciated, acknowledged, heard, and supported. This is why I'm here. This is my advocacy.

And this is what I fear expressing because it's hard to express. People asked me at the gallery, "What is your next project?" or "What are your plans for the future?" and I never have any idea because #1. I don't believe in looking too far into the future because the present matters most and #2. I don't know how to explain what it is I'm doing in life. My next project may not be related to photography. My future plans may not involve being a photographer at all. The next thing I do could involve my writing skills (something in which I did happen to grab a degree). See, I'm caught up in the idea that I need to have a label or stick to an image of what I am and what I do in order to be taken seriously and respected, but what I want to advocate doesn't come with a degree. You don't major in love. No one gives you a signed paper for appreciating others. Jobs don't hire you because you like to hear people out or let them tell their stories. Okay...some do... but aren't they often for greed, advertising, or selfish purposes? When is it ever just for people?

UW-Waukesha students signing up for the raffle that included a copy of The Body Project book and looking through the copy I brought to share. Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.
UW-Waukesha students signing up for the raffle that included a copy of The Body Project book and looking through the copy I brought to share. Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.

Dreaming

My dream in life is simply to make sure people know they matter--whether through writing about, talking with, or photographing them. I will, no matter what, create space for their voices. This all sprouted from one conversation with a man named James who works in the Diversity Center of UW-Waukesha who asked, "What can we do with you, artistically, to show these students they matter?"

Anything, James. I'm ready for anything.

Me with the backers of The Body Project mini gallery at UW-Waukesha. From left to right: Elizabeth, Connie, and James. Awesome people that I plan to work with in the future! Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.
Me with the backers of The Body Project mini gallery at UW-Waukesha. From left to right: Elizabeth, Connie, and James. Awesome people that I plan to work with in the future! Candids of the event by Kasey K. Photo.

To see more images from The Body Project mini gallery at UW-Waukesha, click here.

  • Join The Body Project Facebook group.
  • Contact katy@katydaixon.net if you’d like your story featured on the blog, have questions, or want to purchase a magazine or book of the project!
  • LIKE katy daixon photography for updates on projects, new blog posts, and sneak peeks of sessions.

My Story

blogimage.jpg

Currently

The past few weeks, I have "kept my nose to the grindstone" (as my grandma and grandpa always told me to do) regarding the final details of The Body Project gallery, reception, book, and magazine. I have been tense. I have ranted and raved. I edited and unedited participants' stories. I've cried. I know I haven't written, and I'm sorry. Today, as I sit and read through/edit the last few stories for the book and magazine, I realize that I have never shared my full story with any of you. The story I presented in the first blog post was only the most recent inspiration for this project, but wasn't a well-rounded story that made me as vulnerable and open as all of you (who participated in the project) have been with me. Some details you might recognize, but I owe you all this.

My Story

Growing up, I had tremendous support from my parents and grand-parents and never once felt a lack of love, appreciation, or guidance. I never put much stock into my developing body (aside from the “Wilson women thighs” I was blessed with) because I was so much more in love with the development of my emotions, creativity, and self-awareness (though I was too young at the time to realize that I had already begun understanding/flexing my internal journey more than my external). The space I was allowed to grow as a child created a little girl who lived in her own world.

Throughout elementary school, I had glasses and braces, so was of course called “four eyes,” “nerd,” “brace face,” “metal mouth,” etc. but I wanted glasses and loved the freedom of choosing the colors of the rubber bands on my braces, so I didn’t care about the name calling. I was excited when I got my first period because I actually felt like I had entered a whole new realm of experience. My boobs didn’t fully bloom until the end of middle school while many girls around me, including my best friends, were fairly well-endowed. But again, I didn’t care, and I wasn’t self-conscious about my flatter chest in my tight 90s tees. I knew I was pretty because I was always told so, but I never considered whether that made me better or not better than others. I was simply confident and blissfully happy in my own little world.

At the end of my sophomore year of high school, a guy completely opposite from me (at the time, we’re incredibly similar now) turned my world upside down. He challenged my beliefs and opinions, influenced my desire to try on new faces--I dyed my hair crazy colors, wore a mixture of my own clothes and those of his genre (punk), and even came to school one day with humungous “liberty spikes” (chunks of your hair spiked up and out), dressed as me, simply to toe the line of both worlds. It was freeing. I finally took notice of the external me. I realized I liked to play with styles, colors, hairdos, makeup, etc. I realized that I liked my body, and that I was a sexual being. Our relationship was tumultuous, though. One second, we were playful and the next was a screaming match. I realized that our differences stretched further than our clothing choices, taste in music, belief/not belief in God, but into our future and how we wanted to live our lives. I didn’t agree with his lifestyle choices and tried to change him. In the end, I beat myself up for being so judgmental and controlling and vowed to be more open-minded toward all peoples.

For the first year of college, because I had set that lofty goal of being more open-minded, I was terrified of failing. So, I was the woman who sat in the corner of her room with her nose in her journal and her door shut. I was heavily against drinking, drugs, partying, random hook-ups, and cliques. I had (and still have) incredibly high expectations for myself that began the day I became aware of how I affect/treat people. I spent a great deal of my time on the phone with my best friend (who was my stand partner in orchestra my senior year of high school and is now my husband), as we listened to each other talk about anything and everything in the world. I was incredibly afraid to live and experience things, make new friends, and be vulnerable. I feared that I would disappoint myself and break those expectations. Meanwhile, the man I was falling in love with was dating a woman exactly like my ex. I fell into a pit of self-doubt and confusion. For the first time, I compared myself to another woman and wondered if I was better than her or not. It took three years for anger to subside from within at the mention of her name and for him to convince me that he loved me for me, even if I wasn’t fully confident in myself.

Then, in 2005, I found out I had moderate dysplasia (pre-cancerous cells on the tissue of the opening of the cervix) and would need to have that tissue removed. This news rocked me. What had I done? Why would this happen to me? Suddenly, I was no longer invincible. I was rudely awakened to the harsh realities of the real world, the one I didn’t live in on a regular basis. For the first time, I actually had to pay attention to my body and this drove me to tremendous anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and fear of illness.

But, that didn’t stop me from treating my body like shit, post-surgery. I drank five Mountain Dews a day, ate pizza rolls and popcorn chicken for dinner, full-sized candy bars, chips, and french fries for snacks. Fruits and vegetables? What the hell were those? I developed allergies, psoriasis, digestive issues, sudden weight-loss due to a wheat intolerance, and a really poor morale. Yoga helped me move past the size of my legs and embrace the inner me again, but my confidence in the external me plummeted with those other varying physical issues. Numerous doctors, allergy pills, shots, and creams later, I said, “Fuck it. This shit isn’t working.” I turned to holistic medicine and natural healing. I turned toward healthy foods. I turned toward positivity.

Some days, I think this is all bad karma. Maybe I was too judgmental of people. Maybe I was conceited. Maybe I blah blah blah. I can blame it on anything, but it doesn’t change anything accept my mental state, and for me, my mental state has a helluva lot to do with my physical state. I have to stop obsessing over my imperfections and understand that perfection is unattainable. I have had to/am still working on retraining my brain, adjusting my thought process, and reminding myself, daily, that all it takes is letting go and embracing what is.

Where It's Led Me

I choose to move forward. I choose to be humbled. I choose to walk around with gratefulness and appreciation. I choose to be open, honest, loving, and vulnerable. What started as a strong connection to my internal world that I ignored when I was awakened to my outer world, has now brought me to the marriage of both. My desire is to remind others that they are beautiful, inside and out, and that self-awareness and self-acceptance of body, mind, and spirit are key.

Let go of your imperfections.
Let go of your imperfections.

In case you missed it, I was interviewed on 940 WFAW yesterday! Listen to the podcast. My interview is about twenty minutes long, and we have quite the interesting conversation.

The Opening Reception is just around the corner! Please attend if you can! It's from 5-8p at the Cultural Arts Center in Whitewater, WI on November 15th. There will be hors d'oeuvres catered by The Black Sheep and 81 images to marvel over. ;) Come say hi and wish me a happy 30th birthday! ;)

  • Join The Body Project Facebook group.
  • Contact katy@katydaixon.net if you’d like your story featured on the blog, have questions, or want to purchase a magazine or book of the project!
  • LIKE katy daixon photography for updates on projects, new blog posts, and sneak peeks of sessions.

Ask Yourself, What Makes Me Happy?

Soledad was a breath of fresh air. She lit up the room the second she walked through my door, and the minute we dug in, passion for life, love, and happiness poured from her. Her shout out is to all the small ladies out there (she's 5'1" and 95lbs). She has never been able to gain weight, and though she was forced to eat more as a child in an attempt to make her thicker, she has always held onto (or reminded herself of) personal happiness. A perfect example of this was her folder that rested on my dining room table that had positive affirmations written all over it. And she wasn't ashamed of it either. She said, "Oh, my folder has positive stuff all over it. When I have a bad day, I just read it and think, "Yeah...it's all good!" Love. It. I love her story and the way her photos turned out. I couldn't choose my favorite, so you're getting them all. ;)

Soledad's Body Story

Where to start. I guess I can begin with why I decided to do this project. My friend from Marching Band introduced me to The Body Project after I posted on Facebook how upset I was that it's becoming a "bad" thing to be skinny. I saw a picture of a girl with beautiful tattoos, but instead of people admiring her tattoos, they were mentioning how skinny she was, stating things like, She's...

  1. Not curvy
  2. Too skinny
  3. Boney
  4. Ugly
  5. Not pretty
  6. Anorexic

This is the photo (which we used as inspiration for her portrait):

Seeing this made me outraged. People used to state these types of things to me, as well. I have been put down to the point that I have felt uncomfortable in my own skin. People have said things like, "Why don't you eat more?" "You're too skinny." "Have you tried to gain weight?" "Are you anorexic?" And so much more. When I would go to my friends' houses, their parents would serve me a huge plate of food and not let me leave the table until I was finished because they thought my parents weren't feeding me.

More than bones.
More than bones.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that no matter what type of body you have, others will find a bad thing to say about it. In this day and age, there has been more support of "curvy" girls. Not saying that's bad. I fully support that. The things is, there is no balance. Society uplifts one and downs the other. Because someone is skinny doesn't mean they aren't beautiful, too.

I am skinny and that’s that.
Hermosa (Spanish for beautiful)
Hermosa (Spanish for beautiful)

I can't change who I am or what I look like. I have tried several times to gain weight just to fit in with what people wanted, but that's not me. I wanted to do this project to feel beautiful in my skin. I want to be able to walk confidently, dress the way I want, see myself as beautiful. I want to feel comfortable being who I am. I don't want all the things that I have seen or heard to bother me because I know I love myself and know my worth.

There are always going to be people that are going to think differently of you. They don’t matter.
More than bones. #2
More than bones. #2

What matters is that you know that you're a good person. Help as much as you can, love as much as you can, and never forget your worth and how important you are.

I wish there would be equality, a set balance for the future. I want everyone to feel happy in their own skin. It doesn't matter what size you are. You only have one life. I've learned that if you are not happy in your own skin, it's time to make HEALTHY changes. Try new things. That way you can find the things you do and do not like.

Learning more about myself is one of the best things I have ever done in my life—just sitting down and asking myself what makes me happy.
Hermosa (Spanish for beautiful) #2
Hermosa (Spanish for beautiful) #2

It's true, you cannot love another until you love yourself.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience this project.

Much love,

Soledad

  • Join The Body Project Facebook group.
  • Contact katy@katydaixon.net if you’d like your story featured on the blog, have questions, or want to purchase a magazine or book of the project!
  • LIKE katy daixon photography for updates on projects, new blog posts, and sneak peeks of sessions.