I will not avoid you any longer + Kaleidoscope
I took this series of photographs after I broke my leg in a car accident this past summer as a way to document how my relationship to my body has changed. Having to take care of my body when I have battled with body dysmorphia and eating disorders since a young age felt so abnormal and frustrating to me.
It reignited fears of my eating disorder and challenged my body dysmorphia as I had to live a stationary life on painkillers and couldn’t exercise or walk around. I was terrified of gaining weight and had a new type of shame of having a broken and ugly body.
It forced me to look at my body differently and care for it and accept it no matter what it looked like.My body wasn’t working for me anymore, instead I had to work for it.
I began to look at my body through a lens of care and curiosity rather than shame or judgement, and saw it as the fragile vessel it is that we only get one of in our lives.
Women since the Palaeolithic times, as discussed in the article “Toward Decolonizing Gender: Female Vision in the Upper Palaeolithic”, have looked at and documented their bodies for the purpose of educating each other of the changes undergone through pregnancy and growth.
This article gives new evidence that women made these small sculptures of their bodies for educational purposes about childbirth. They made these for each other rather than as sex objects made by men, which they have been thought to be for centuries. The article shows diagrams of how the distorted and foreshortened forms of the sculptures correspond to how women look down at their bodies.
In the current media climate and patriarchal society women are valued by their appearance by others and especially themselves. Body dysmorphia is on the rise and there is a general dissatisfaction that women have with themselves, with a shocking 97% of women admitting to having moments of hating their own bodies. A distorted self view is indoctrinated in us by society since very young. Internet culture has made this worse with 'pro-ana' 'thinspo' images being rife on social media and disguised as 'healthy' or 'aspirational'. Girls are taught that they only exist to be a desirable object and subsequently they can’t see themselves as otherwise.
I looked to those ancient women in this series to remind me that my body is not just an object that defines my worth but a home that cares for me as much as I care for it.
I went to see the Carolee Schneemann exhibition and was particularly touched by her claim 'I do not "show" my naked body! I AM BEING MY BODY.' She declared the right to her body and to be an artist at the same time. I am aware that as the photographs I took are of my own nude female body that I could be accused of adding to the many plethora of images of nude women both online and in the history of art. However, just like Schneemann I want to have ownership and freedom with my body rather than allowing it to be reduced to an object to be sexualised. My body is my medium and I channel my life experiences through it.