Saturday, 18 January 2014

living in our bodies

Photographer Elinor Carucci has recorded her motherhood in visceral photos.  You can see some of them on her website here.  

Judging by her photographs, Elinor is a lot more comfortable in her skin than I have ever been, as are her family.  Her pictures are beautiful, and somehow real beyond real.  My Dad worries that I share too much on this blog, but she shares so very much.  I think she is very brave.

Elinor's latest book.  The picture
is entitled The Woman That I Still
Am, and it's perfect.

I heard Elinor interviewed on Woman's Hour a while ago with Ana Casas Broda.  They, and a group of other photographers, were exhibiting their work on Motherhood in London.  

Elinor said that her body after birth was not the body that she knew, and her old body has not come back, but that's ok.  She said it took a while to readjust, but she really seems to be someone who lives through her body.  If that makes any sense!  She describes the physicality of mothering, and the refocus she felt of her sensuality from her partner to her children for a while, saying "Maybe [you do] not need some of your sexuality for a while because you're so physically fulfilled with your children." She stressed that this is beautiful, and good for children.

Ana Casas Broda also takes visceral photographs documenting her motherhood.  Ana has had a difficult relationship with her body throughout her life, particularly around weight control and also fertility.  She says the story of life is written on the body - gaining and losing weight as well as having babies.

I've mentioned these photographers because so many of us take lots of photos, and yet paint ourselves out of our own lives because our bodies have lived them, and they don't fit how we feel they should look.

My children are all still in the wonderful stage wherein they are confident of their gorgeousness.  They are told they are beautiful, because they are, and they see that they are.  But...

The boy with a wish jar.  I wish we didn't have
to go through this.
My son is eight now, and he's starting to worry about what others think about him, especially his long hair.  He's started censoring his behaviour (although I'm happy to say he's got not intention of cutting his hair - though it's his hair and it's up to him), not wanting to be singled out, even for praise, for fear of giving the wagging tongues a chance to judge.  I'm horrified.  I know it happens, but it had such a huge affect on me, and I still don't think I'm over it.

I may walk tall, and talk the talk, but I still paint myself out of my life.  I don't want that for any of my children.  I don't want that for me.  My life is written large on my body, and I want to be grateful that it mainly works, and not worry about whether people are thinking I'm fat, or that my hair is not right.

I'm drawing inspiration from Shane Koyczan's beautiful poem, To This Day, which you'll find below.  He says that to kids the very definition of the word 'beauty' starts with 'Mom', "and if you can't find the beauty in yourself, then find a better mirror."

I want to look at my body as one that has been through a lot, and still works.  I don't want to paint myself out of my life any more.

How about you?  How's your body holding up?  Are you painting yourself out of your life too?

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