One time I modeled for my friend Cath, who happens to be a professional photographer. It all started on a text conversation in which she asked me how I’d feel about modeling on a track in workout clothes and heels. It would be a statement about femininity and power – but more on that later. Without hesitating or thinking too long or hard about being self conscious or afraid, I said “Sure!” See, I couldn’t stop to feel these feelings in that moment because I knew if I did I’d chicken out and say no.
Like anyone, I have had some major insecurities. Many of these insecurities I’ve consciously focused on overcoming during the past few years. And this isn’t only pertaining to my body. I’ve had insecurities about my intelligence; I’ve wondered things like ‘Am I smart enough to make it as a writer?’ and ‘If I start a blog will anyone actually read it?’ I have insecurities about my sense of humour; I’ve wondered, ‘Do I come across as an ungrateful wench?’ and ‘Did I offend someone with that off-the-cuff joke?’
The thing is, in my teens and early twenties I let these insecurities, these fears, rule me. I mean, they RULED my life. I became an editor early in my career partly because I enjoyed editing (yeah, huge nerd) but largely because I didn’t think I could cut it as a freelance writer, which was my secret unspoken dream career (I couldn’t even give voice to the dream for fear of looking like an idiot or, worse, failing). I was also insecure about public speaking. I’d shut my mouth to avoid looking or sounding stupid. I once had to do a 1.5 hour long presentation in 4th year university; I had to teach my class of 15 intelligent writers a topic on human rights and poetry. I was petrified. I broke out in hives and don’t remember a thing of it except for the instructor interrupting to tell me, ‘Slow down. Take a deep breath.’ Public speaking terrified me that much.
I’ve since gotten better in front of people in formal settings by forcing myself into these uncomfortable situations. I’ve since stopped caring so much about physical insecurities (having a baby actually helped me – once you’ve had a handful of people staring at your basically naked body as you push out a human, I feel like it happens). I’ve since stopped worrying that my sense of humour is going to turn someone off. And most of all I’ve stopped worrying I can’t cut it as a writer because I just went out and did the damn thing. I credit all of these things to life experience and pushing fear aside. Not NOT being afraid, but rather being afraid, accepting that fear, and then saying ‘Yes’ to opportunity anyway. Not being fearless, but rather being fearful, knowing it’s human and okay, and doing things despite it. I’ve still got a long way to go of course, but I’m getting better.
With this said, here are the photos from the shoot with Cath (Catherine Cachia, aka @catherinecachia). I’m no model and to do this I had to push certain insecurities aside and have trust in her (and of course Kathleen Sou, @kathleensouhairartist, who did this flawless pony for me). I’m SO glad I did because I love how the shoot turned out; Cath did an amazing job. Our purposeful intention going in was to make a statement about femininity and what we as women can be, and often are. To me, this means being powerful yet fearful, insecure yet brave, vulnerable yet strong, emotional yet stoic – sometimes all at once. Being a woman, to me, means being afraid (sometimes of countless things) and just doing stuff anyway. It means knowing what much of society expects of you as a woman (softness, rounded edges, and sweetness) and then being brave enough to just be whatever and whoever you are anyway, sharp edges and all. I believe we as women are powerful beyond our own comprehension and that each of us can unlock our potential with life experience, opportunity, and by embracing our fear.