Anonymous / 06.27.16
Looking at the man in this picture is a surreal experience. He's intimately familiar, but somehow fundamentally different at the same time. I recognize this as an image of myself, but have the unshakeable sense that he and I are no longer one. Did the man in the picture change, or did I? I don't know.
I do know that, leading up to the day of the shoot, I didn't go to the gym any more or eat any less. I know I was oddly calm when I took my clothes off in front of some friendly strangers, and shared details about my life that I've kept mostly private. Pun intended (?).
For as long as I can remember, I know that I carried a deep sense of shame, insecurity and guilt within me that couldn't be quelled with exercise and people pleasing any more than binge eating and pot. I know I always felt ugly inside and out regardless of what others said or I accomplished. I know I was perpetually alone whether you were there or not. I know I was passively suicidal for so long that I thought it was normal to always be somewhat expectant and open to the possibility of dying or killing myself. I know I felt trapped inside a body which only ever seemed to disappoint me and reinforce my belief that I was worthless.
Looking at this picture, I also know that I am no longer that person.
Living that way hurt like hell, but I never gave up. I loved life too goddamn much, even if my own was torturous. Gradually, through a lot of trial-and-error and experimentation, I learned to work with my body as opposed to against it. Slowly, I starting sinking into my emotions and exploring the connection between my persistent state of dis-ease and the constant stream of negativity, fear and loathing which dominated my thinking. Eventually, I asked for help and received beautiful, glorious and unconditional love from others until I could remember how to love and care for myself.
The process is by no means complete, but as I write this I'm realizing how far I've come and how much joy there is in store.
This a picture of a naked man. It's also a picture of a flower opening to the rays of the sun. I couldn't feel those rays for what seemed like forever, but I never gave up hope that one day I could and would. If you're suffering, I hope to God that you do the same. Be courageous. Never stop fighting for the beauty that you are, regardless of how you're feeling and what you (think you) look like.
"you don't know what i know; what i'm capable of
what i slaved for and traded in favours
and gave up for you what i gave up for Love"
- chance the rapper