This photographer overcame body image fears to step in front of the camera. Here's how - and why she did it
I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the camera. As a natural extrovert (some may even say show-off) I never shied away from an opportunity to get in the spotlight.
But having it documented, immortalising myself on film…that was something different. As my weight went up and down over the years, fuelled by disordered eating and self-loathing – so too did my feelings about photos. I remember getting my prints back from the chemist (yeah I’m a 70’s child!) and poring over the shots - beyond happy when I found a ‘good’ one and devastated when I came across a ‘bad’ one. So much worth was tied up in what the camera captured.
About 9 years ago I found out I was pregnant with my third child. My third girl. I felt such a responsibility as a Mama to these girls…and a little voice that had been oh so quietly waiting patiently inside me started to speak up. She was tentative but insistent.
‘Three girls!! All looking to you on how to move through this world as a woman. What will they find?’
I’d spent 25 years chasing a body I could never become – never for long anyway, and not without huge restriction and sacrifice – both physically and mentally.
I was tired. Tired of the battles I had in my head every single time I thought about food. Tired of the endless overly restrictive diets. Tired of missing out (I once passed up a weekend away because I’d just started a new diet). Tired of hating how I looked in the mirror.
It was time to get help. Firstly for my girls, then as my self-love grew - for myself. It wasn’t easy and it took many years of therapy and hard work, unlearning everything I thought I knew about food, eating and mental health.
My body is now fuller, rounder and squishier than it’s ever been. Initially I really freaked out about this. I hated seeing myself in photos and videos and was happy to just see myself from the one flattering angle, in the same position every day, in my full length mirror.
But on my journey something changed.
It wasn’t a single moment, more of a gradual blossoming. And honestly, I’m in a pretty good relationship with my body now. Some days I love it and think I look great…others are more just feeling neutral about it. So it’s still a journey, but I don’t look in the mirror and loathe what I see any more. It’s a pretty damn good place to be.
It’s no big surprise women in particular really struggle with body image issues. At every turn we’re told we’re not thin enough, young enough, beautiful enough. We live in a world of body pressure and honestly, it’s crap.
It’s time to flip it on its head, embrace our beautiful selves and work the camera in our favour.
Part of my journey has been to have lots of photos and videos taken of me, so I can really see myself. I look at these images and tell myself it’s me, and it’s ok!
I want to put them out in the world so other people who look like me know that It’s ok to take up space, show yourself and live your best life no matter what size you are.
I also feel strongly about my girls growing up surrounded with images of lots of diverse bodies in tv, magazines, social media and websites.
In business it’s crucial to put ourselves out there on our websites and social media. Humans connect with humans, and by embracing every damn part of ourselves we show an authenticity that connects us with others.
Video and photos can be confronting – I get it. You’re seeing yourself from every angle in an uncontrolled way…moving, talking – as you’ve never seen yourself before.
The thing is…your friends, family and co-workers see you like this all the time.
And guess what?
They love and respect you anyway. When they’re talking to you they aren’t thinking about how big your nose is, whether your hair looks fluffy or if your tummy looks big. They’re listening to your words and soaking up your presence. They’re looking at you as a whole wonderful package, not a bundle of flaws.
You deserve to be seen – to have your business seen. If you’ve been hiding yourself I urge you to be brave and book that video or photography shoot.
Show yourself. Tell your Story. Screw the status quo!
Are you with me?
Michelle Sokolich is a brand storyteller who helps you reach your audience with video that makes people pause, and photography that shows your humanness. Connect with Michelle: