Sunday, October 7, 2012

Real Shapes from Light Fantastic

I haven't written in here for a long time because, well, I haven't exactly been staying image positive. Its been a rough couple of months with quite a few ups and downs. I had a pretty bad week not too long ago due to some commentary from some ladies about my ample bosom. I actually sat and cried for a bit, suddenly feeling like I'd been sucked back in time to the most painful years of my life where I hated myself completely.

There was a time I never looked in the mirror. Ever. Even for practical things like putting on make up or getting dressed in the morning. It would irritate my mother to bat shit proportions. "Are you not ashamed of walking out like that in public?" At some point, I caved in, even if for no other reason to avoid having a rat's nest on my hair (see, I've always been hair obsessed, just, perhaps, not as I am now.) I hated my body. Every curve of it -- from the way my calves sloped out gently then back in at my ankles or how my thighs curved into the perfect roundness of my hips. I disliked the way my ass stuck out firmly, the way my eyes seemed huge and most of all,  I especially disliked my breasts. I know it sounds preposterous but I couldn't see the perfectly lovely girl I was back then. Instead of attractive, womanly softness all I could see was lard. Mounds of lard, especially two very large ones glued to my chest.

God. I hated my breasts. With a masochistic fashion. I started by trying on a minimizer bra at the urging of another big-breasted gal. And when that didn't work well enough, I wore two at once but that wasn't enough. I even went as far as shoving my K cups into smaller cups until I had myself squeezed into some DDDs. When I wanted to run I'd put on a cut up control top panty hose over that THEN wrap two Ace bandages around me. Finally I'd slip on a sports bra then a shirt. But that hurt more than help and I eventually stopped running.

On really rough days I'd run a pin across the sensitive flesh until I was left with a red cobweb of fine lines that stung every time cloth brushed against it and burned in the shower. I always was careful enough to never do it so hard or deep that I'd wind up with permanent scars. I did have marks that took months to go away though. (My arms were a slightly different story and I still got some faded scars in there somewhere. And mom if you're reading this, I'm so, so sorry you had to find out this way. Cutting is a compulsion that I am quite ashamed of and I didn't tell anyone back then. Bookworm only found out because she saw it but I made her swear not to tell you. So there, now you know why I wore long sleeves, leggings and pants all year long.)

Anyhow, I haven't done ANY of that since some time after we were dating I broke down and told Jouji what I was doing. He made me promise not to do it anymore because he loved me... and he found me beautiful, scars and all. He found it ludicrous that I purposely marred what he called perfection.

Its been about six years since I felt compelled to pick up a sharp object,  but damn it, I wanted to, desperately. It doesn't help that I have the masochistic habit of picking at a scab while it heals both figuratively and literally. My mind kept going back to the comments I'd been told off-line AND on a thread I started at a forum I frequent. I mean, for fuck's sake, I couldn't believe some of the shit coming out of other women's mouths/computers.

It'd been about four days of sheer anger and depression form me. I'd burst out with "I can't believe that someone would find two bags of fat squished together fucking erotic and distracting!"

Jouji kept asking if I was 'still on that' topic.

See, he couldn't fathom why it bothered me so much, although he knew I have 'issues' when it comes to my body. Sure I have moments where I hate looking at myself in the mirror or I'll be depressed for an hour or two but then get back on the Health Bandwagon again. The only other time I get *this* worked up is if Mom has anything to do with something. [Seriously, I love her, but she's got a way of saying the most well-meant thing in the most hurtful of ways. She's not even conscious of it and therefore I don't say anything. Someone once told me that you can't change the world, just your own perception of it. I'm honestly trying to learn to let go of some things here. LOVE YOU MOMMY!! ]

Hell, I often make fun of my own predicament. "I work hard for this curvacious body. I drive around for hours for the right spot, no more than a hundred feet away from the door."

But a week or so ago, while in the middle of my rant fest, an interesting little blurp came up in my facebook newsfeed that instantly changed things for me. I was reminded that people have been trained to think a certain way about our bodies, especially women [I'm not saying men don't suffer from this, because they do], from a young age. It takes a LOT of energy and dedication to go against the grain and not keep from getting sucked in.

In a world saturated with impossible to achieve body ideal, a friend of mine and her husband are fighting the good fight to change it. With a series of images called Real Shapes.

I met Emma and Martin booth many, many years ago. So long ago, I can't accurately remember the date but I'm willing to bet it was sometime around 2002 or 2003. I was still living at home, hating myself and my life. Although when we met, it was all in cyberspace in this nifty little mud called RetroMUD.  In this world, Emma played a changeling cop named Naga, Martin a werewolf cop called Eikichi and I an elvin cop (yes, we were all in the same guild) called Shania. I explain this because a few things have remained constant.

Emma's Naga liked to run around nude and has always, ALWAYS been very proud of who and what she is, regardless of what creature incarnation she is. Eik has always been the ever-loving, supportive guy. I, have always felt like the n00b who is still learning the ropes and slowly getting comfortable in her own skin.

And I suppose that is our true selves coming across the play.

Eventually Emma and Martin began to date outside the mud, got married, had a beautiful girl. Emma has been superbly artistic. Martin's just the same supportive guy with his own artistic ideals. A hobby turned into a very serious hobby and now its a side business [I hope that some day it becomes their successful bread and butter as I believe photography is their calling!]. I've watched their art grow from quick, at-home snapshots, to random, artsy pieces of nature, to beautiful scenes. [I totally fancy some of the work Martin has done for a few bands!] Hence: Light Fantastic.

I adore that Light Fantastic is a husband and wife photography team. You can feel their passion through the images.

Lets take a look at some of the pictures in the series, shall we?

To see more of the series "Real Shapes" or just more work
 from Light Fantastic, follow the jump! 

I asked Nags (Emma. Its super hard to call her this after calling her Naga for so long) if I could interview her about her current project.

Demise: ya up for a quick interview? I figure I got this fancy beauty blog I like to focus on positive body image and why not feature your series? 

Emma Booth: Oh ok 

D: Yay! 

EB: I still have lots more to post though ^^

D: That's fine. Its still flippin' inspiring.

EB: Thanks

D: I know plenty of women who would eagerly await for the next installment.

EB: That's nice to hear~ So I'm not feelin that well, is a typed interview ok?

D: Oh yeah. Absolutely. My skype's being stupid anyway. That and I think Gwen's [her daughter] at nap time or was so I didn't want to make noise.

EB: Nah she's up but Martin's got her 

D: (she's gorgeous, btw.)
Anyhow, shall we start? Then I can like, edit my piece and get stuff ready when we're done.

EB: I might be a little slow, typing on iPad. But yep sure

D: Fancy! Anyhow, you've gotten a lot of positive feedback from your current work Real Shapes. Was this something you were expecting when launching the project?

EB: Honestly when it came to posting the first image I was worried about what sort of response we might get. So far it has been overwhelmingly positive, and that did surprise me.

D: I for one, love it. It was like a glimpse of sunshine on a rainy day for me. It made my week.What inspired you to create the series to begin with?

EB: The inspiration for the initial image actually just came from looking in the mirror. I noticed the way the window light was falling on the outlines and thought what a nice photo that would make if only it wasn't me.That's when you turn around and say well,why not me? The shape that's put on the covers of magazines, and ads, television and so on that's seen as the 'right' shape, is only natural to a small amount of people. Not only that, but many of them are further stretched and thinned down and skin-smoothed and basically edited beyond recognition. I wanted to challenge that I guess, and just put something honest out there. (sorry for the big ramble there, and also excuse me, gotta help with the grouchy baby)

D: Don't worry about it. Kids, pets and husbands all require attention sometimes [ ETA: Read: when you're busy, on the phone... interviewing someone..]. Do you think that being a mom-- especially a mom to a little girl -- has been a driving force behind "Real Shapes"?

EB:When it started, the project was more an encouragement for the grown women in my life. People do find their own meanings in art though, and I have since spoken to several people who believe the message in my photos would benefit their children. I agree with them. Acceptance for different body shapes is definitely something we should pass to our children.
(optional extra in case I am rambling too much--->)Everyone is different after all, and there are more important things to spend our energy on than critiquing someone else's looks.

D: I know Light Fantastic is a husband and wife team and often most your'e doing the editing. However, you've been known to get behind the camera quite often; are you doing the shooting for this series or is it Martin?

EB: As the shoots are done nude, and our subjects so far have all been women, they have for the most part opted for me to photograph and edit them. Most of the shoots have been done in the homes of the subjects as well, to keep things as comfortable as possible. This type of shoot does require an amount of trust and I take care to maintain that.

D: So... if I'm willing to fly you over to this side of the pond would you do it? You really don't have to answer that -- Anyhow, from what I recall you said the demographic of your models is about 25-50 and all have been mothers (I think I may be making some of it up. Feel free to correct me!) Is there anything else about your models you'd like to share?

EB: Hmm a free trip to the US to do a photoshoot? [ETA: Light Fantastic is homed in New Zealand] Hell yes. The models so far have ranged in age from 25 to 52, and yes all of them thus far are mothers. What I love about the photos is that they all look fantastic regardless, without any fancy editing.
As to sharing more about the models, I'm afraid I can't say anything else about them publicly, for privacy reasons

D: Hence why I adore you, Nags, you're one of the most trustworthy people I know. In and out of game. Anyhow, on your facebook fan page a gal inquired about buying a print. Have you thought about doing some prints or perhaps doing a showing?

EB: When we have done more of these shoots we would like to have them in exhibition, though we're not sure how long until we will have enough material for that.
At the moment our web site has come down for a major overhaul but when it returns we will have prints available to order online. At the moment anyone interested in prints should contact us directly or via Facebook.

D: -squee- I can't wait. Anyhow, thank you for your time, Nags!  Give little Gwennie a hug from moi.

ETA: Once the website is up and running, I'll post it for all of you to peruse. I honestly want a few prints for myself, especially this one.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spirals and Whurls

I've heard so much curl-bashing in my life, one would think I would be dead-set against having natural curl myself. The truth is, I love curls. I love them so much, that I get curl envy whenever I see a beautiful head full of springs.

And I'm talking about *all* sorts of whurls. Long, barrel curls, spirals, tight little tufts that stay in any direction it gets pulled into. It breaks my heart a little bit every time I hear  woman complain about how 'gross' her curls are. It irks me whenever I hear a person say "curls are so unprofessional!"

The truth is that curly-haired women have a bad reputation. They're usually seen as temperamental and disorganized, often sexually overcharged with a bit of a sadistic streak. If we're solely judging one's curl- or lack there of- based by these adjectives, I should have an afro. A red-headed afro (The social view of gingers is another blog topic in my opinion). And yet, when my hair is left in its virgin state it is a very, very, indecisive type of 1b/c.... and a dark shade of brown akin to mahogany with its deep red undertones that peek out at the right angle of light. 

So why am I discussing this issue today? 

I just came back from a trip in which I got to hang out with my niece. Monkey is a precocious, lovely child with the most amazing head of Goldilock spirals that spill to her waist. It is fine as thread, soft as silk, shiny and breath taking. It kills me to know that at some point, she will come to hate her curls because of some idiot who doesn't understand that dependent on the humidity, it will frizz. And the saddest part of it all is that her hair is far from the 'kinky curl' of mixed races -- which by the way, I hate the term 'kinky' because to me, kinky makes me think of hair that's been burnt and bends in all directions. 4c curls make tight little circles when shed. Its cute! --- I hate to think of the stigma that my mixed and African ladies have to put up with. 

While I was there, one of my sister's friend came for a visit. She had the most amazing round afro adorned by a long scarf. My niece, at having never seen such a curl before, simply stared in awe. My sister's friend, henceforth kown as B, simply laughed and said "Do you want to touch it?" 

Monkey stared in silence and simply nodded her head. B grinned, bent at the waist and urged Monkey to touch those lovely tufts. And what did Monkey say? "Its so soft!" 

So there you go folks, tight curls are neither kinky nor tough.. The next time I hear someone say that an afro is nothing more than a glorified 'brillo pad' I will have to be held back before I give them a one-for. And my ladies with ANY form of curl, there are quite a few of us who simply admire your whurls. We may not say much but boy, do we sit in awe at the beauty of it. Hell, I know of many who perm to get a curl and others who sleep with uncomfortable rags to get a spiral. It never comes quite the same as the real thing, but damn it, we try. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fab Friday!

Celebrating beauty in all shapes and sizes (species and things too!)  -- Every Friday

When a person thinks about the desert, the first thing that comes to mind are vast expanses of nothingness, dust, heat and tumble weeds. The truth of it is there is so much more to a desert that is hidden, or over looked, such as.. oh, I don't know, desert flowers.

(Rose Cactus. Found in Clover Springs, Utah -- follow the link! : More Desert Beauty ) 

Some of us are allergic, others simply disgusted by their smell and texture. Can you guess what this is?

Aloha, Amigos!

Beauty standards of today are absolutely ridiculous. It is almost impossible to open up a magazine without seeing a twisted, skewed up version of what Beauty should be, change the channel on television without being told about how Celebrity Y is horribly looking because of Z excuse. Hell, even the radio has something to say about how I should buy a certain product because my hair is too thin, my teeth not white enough, blah blah blah.

And sometimes I fall for that crap, then begin nit picking at my body, my fashion and my home because I  don't fit into some form of ideal..

Then it got me thinking: I'm a twenty-seven, almost twenty-eight year old woman who *knows* better than to fall victim to what So-and-so has to say. I have a very impressionable thirteen year old niece who straightens her hair every other day because she doesn't like her curls, another lovely 11 year old who will soon start feeling the societal pressures to fit in and yet a third niece, four years of age, whose precocious sense of style sets her apart from the rest. I look at the latter's St. Patrick's day ensemble and fear that one day, she'll be too  scared to wear a silly tutu on top of a pair of leggings because "only little girls do stuff like that."  How can I teach my girls to be strong, independent and find beauty with what Mother Nature has given them when I still struggle on some days?

There is so much beauty out there -- every where -- but if only we could see.

So there you have it, this is how the idea of this blog was born. Welcome to Fabulush... because you don't have to be drunk to see the true beauty of our bodies regardless of what we look like.