'The wild woman carries with her the bundles for healing; she carries everything a woman needs to be and know. She carries the medicine for all things." -Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (WWRWW)
This self portrait was taken in the year after I gave birth to my daughter and remains, to this day, an absolute fave. of mine!! Even now...just looking at it makes me smile!! I gave birth (for the first time!!) at age 40 and this photo stands as a testament to the heady, powerful and very real feeling I had of gathering myself up, claiming my power and standing very firmly in the center. It's not about the purely visual image...not about my stretchmarks (which are visible if you look closely) or about my added pounds post pregnancy. It's not about any of that but rather about the claiming of it all. As women (and -for lack of a better definition-as a visible minority woman of color-very clumsy + awkward, I know- ) we are constantly bombarded and saturated with negative messages...images of what we should like, how we should act and feel and think and...on and on. Well...for some magical reason...for me...giving birth and turning 40 in the same month, stripped all of that away. The striving, the wanting to be other than, the not enough-ness that has followed me my entire life, the pain of not fitting in...all of that just fell away to reveal...what had been there all along; hidden and patient. Now my beauty (or lack of) was not defined by society, the scale, the mirror...the junk. It was revealed to me by my baby's smile, breastfeeding, gurgling and cooing...first steps and smiles and love...tenderness and longing. This photo was also the first time I started to realize the very powerful and healing effects of self portraiture. It showed me how I could define (and re-define) mySELF rather than surrender to the images society projected. It gave me a means to harness my strengths and stand firmly (and proudly) in who I am. This photo was the seed for the self confidence to start writing my blog, sharing my stories and getting back to painting. This photo says..."I am here. I am me. I am."