The Silver Lining of a Recovered Bulimic

Here we go, with sweaty nervous hands, a fast heartbeat, and tears just waiting on standby.   I’m notorious for holding back feelings. Just ask my husband.  And when I let them out, they just come crashing in like a tidal wave!

Honestly, I’ve been wanting to write this post now for 2 months.  I’ve been thinking about this project since the beginning of summer.   I kept asking myself, what is taking you so long, just write the damn post Melissa.  But I couldn’t.  It’s not that I didn’t have material to write about, I do.  It’s not that I don’t have a good support system, I definitely do. I was terrified most of being judged by my family and friends. People I love so much.

For fear of being judged or talked about, I simply put off this post.  Then I thought to myself a few weeks ago, who the heck cares!  I’m sure there is someone at any given moment talking about someone (possibly me).  People are going to talk, people are going to judge, but what I came to realize is that everyone in the world can judge me. I’m actually okay with that.  I’d rather be judged by everyone than to not share my experience.

This project also has nothing to do with wedding photography, btw.  However this project all stemmed from one bride.

One night, we were driving home from a wedding in the city.  It was late, and Michael fell asleep.  Normally, I sing my heart out because I’m still on a wedding reception high, but on this particular night, I was quiet on our drive home.  I got to thinking about the wedding we shot that day and how gorgeous I thought the bride was.  Even without the white dress, and the makeup, and the lovely hair, she is just a natural beauty.  Inside and out. She seemed so comfortable and confident in her own skin (but not in an egocentric type of way). I admired her. I thought to myself, wow, I wish I felt the way she did eight years ago.

So on this midnight ride home, thoughts and ideas were stirring in my mind.  This particular bride, fueled a spark inside me, she inspired me.  I felt it was time to talk about my struggles, my experiences and it was time to try and help someone else.  I don’t expect to save the world, but if I can help just one person, I consider this project a success.

At first, this project started out as me using my passion and talent to document the beauty of other woman.  With woman that had insecurities at some point in their lives. I think most of us can fit into that category.  Am I right? So I wanted to take it a step further. I want to photograph women who have had serious insecurities that affected there life in some shape or form.  For example:  During my junior year of high school, I had an eating disorder.  What started out as insecurities about my body, led to anorexia which turned into bulimia and continued for six years.  I had an addiction for six whole years of my life.  Six years that I cannot do over.  I felt like I let this illness rob me of 6 glorious, beautiful years.  I know the saying goes, live life without regrets.  I cannot say, that that was a good time in my life, a moment in time that I was proud of.  And I’ll be honest, I wish I never experienced it.  But, I did.  And now instead of hiding behind that past, I see the silver lining of it.  It’s a very big problem in our world today.  So many of us are oblivious to it, but it is a huge problem.  Eating disorders know no limits when it comes to gender, age, social status, etc.

My eating disorder took over my life.  As much as I tried to “get better” or eat like a “normal person”, I always found myself back where I was.  And what I was doing was killing myself slowly, one day at a time.  I felt like life as I knew it was spiraling out of control. My daily routine became very much a pattern.  An unhealthy and sad pattern.  My disorder ruined every one of my relationships (except this one, but Michael has helped me through it).  But until I met him, I felt like a failure.  Everything was failing.  To give you some perspective as to how unhealthy I was.  Pre-eating disorder, I was 125lbs, 5’8.  At my all time low, I was 92 lbs.   I am currently 117 pounds.  Still thin, but I have always been thin.  I get that now.  My mind isn’t tricking me anymore. Mentally, I’ve found my happy place.  And now I can talk about it. It’s not hard to talk about.

I do not want to tell you my entire story now.  But just a glimpse.  I will be getting deep into my own life story as I will be the last subject to be photographed in this project.  But I do want to tell you the reason I am doing this project.  Yes I’m doing it for awareness and because I have a story to tell, but I’m also doing it for my children Ava and Bella.  I never want them to feel as if they are not good enough.  I never want them to feel they are not pretty, or not skinny enough.  I am trying to be the best influence for my girls.  I encourage them daily.  You will never find me criticizing myself in front of them.  You will never find me checking myself out in a mirror around them  (unless we are in the changing room together, and even in there, I’m positive). I encourage active living and healthy eating to them, but I will never put them down in a way that makes them feel the way I felt.  And if ever that day comes that they feel like that (our society has a way of doing that to young girls), I will continue to encourage them to be comfortable in their own skin.  Being comfortable and confident in “imperfect” skin (because let’s be honest, we are all imperfect) is far more beautiful than being uncomfortable and not confident in perfect skin.

The project details:

I’m looking for 10 supportive women that have had some insecurities in their lives that they are willing to share to others what they’ve experienced(you’ll be getting your own shoot, and a blog post all about you!).  This number may also vary depending on the response.  I would love to photograph every female in this world, but with timing, and having little girls of my own, I can only give so much time.  Who knows, depending on the amount of responses, I may make this on going and do one every year.

I’m not just looking for women that have had eating disorders, or have eating disorders.   And if you’re afraid to be judged like I was, then you should talk about it.  Because so many others feel the same way you do.

This project will be ongoing for the next year.  There will be a blog post about each woman, including myself.  At the very end, I’ll bring it all together for a big bang.

I will be donating all of my time and talent, I also have several other amazing vendor friends that are doing the same.

However, the shoot is not completely free.  You must be comfortable donating $150 (myself included).  All proceeds being donated to Rewrite Beautiful. A non-profit that focuses on rewriting what beauty means and creatively changing how girls see beauty in themselves.  Check them out, they are amazing and so inspiring.

You must also give me creative freedom.  🙂  I want you to be open minded and allow me to photograph your beauty the way I see it.

This project will also be shot mostly on film.  Why?  I love the process and the anticipation of seeing the film. Every single time, it’s like Christmas morning. It excites me, just like this project.

What I am not looking for:

I am not looking for women that just want to update their facebook profile with a new pretty picture.   Sorry this isn’t the right project for you.

This project is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done {Ahh jeez…tears}.  And my expectations with it are not crazy.  I do not expect this project to go viral, but I do hope that you’ll share this in hopes of raising awareness.  I also hope that by you sharing, more woman will reach out to me. If we can all just help one person or even better, save one life, that would make this a successful project. So please help me spread the word about this project.

If you’d like to help out in other ways for this project please email me at melissa@m2-photography.net  I could always use more talent {hair stylists, makeup, floral, clothing, etc}, supplies, money to fund film and processing, and travel.  Anything is greatly appreciated.

xoxo,

Melissa.

 

The first gal in my project is a dear friend of mine from Boston.  I love her to death and I want nothing more than to see her happy. She has been through so much heartache, but she keeps living her life the best she can and that is so inspiring. She is a beautiful soul! A full blog post with lots of pictures coming soon!  A special thank you to my friend Tanti from Papertini for donating this floral crown!

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