Just some recent photography.
In my opinion, navigating the world of fashion has some potholes.
Maybe a lot of potholes.
Fashion, at least as we know it in contemporary society, is rife with body ideals and
unattainable beauty standards. Models are such a small percentage of the population, body type wise. Actually, the ideal body type we see in the media and on fashion magazines is nearly equivalent to that of a prepubertal girl. Seriously, I am not kidding.
As someone who really loves fashion and clothes and expressing myself in this way,figuring out how to appreciate fashion without bombarding myself with image upon image of edited, manipulated, unattainable bodies has been challenging.
Here’s how I do it: I don’t.
I simple don’t look at fashion media. Occasionally, I search Pinterest for inspiration. But mostly, I figure out how to appreciate fashion through my own body and appearance.
Fashion, therefore, serves as a means of appreciation for my body. It is a neutral ground of body acceptance.
Through clothes, I work to acknowledge my body. I don’t necessarily LIKE my body, even if I like my outfit, but I can appreciate my body as a part of the art of fashion. Body neutrality.
Part of my recovery, past and current, is figuring out who I am both in what I like and how I present. Throughout my recovery, I experimented a lot with clothing styles. I went from dark and gothic, to dark vintage, to somewhat alternative, to a strange mix of all of the above.
Fashion style is personal. It doesn’t have to fit into a box with a label and a color and sit on a shelf that is labeled “me.” It can change and flow and be fluid. Much like us, fashion is not static.
Embracing the fluidity of my personal expression, though it means I have gone through lots of clothes, has allowed me to experiment with my comfort zones and boundaries. And, boy, have I learned how to thrift shop! (You have to, if your style keeps changing!)
Even now I look in my closet and wonder what in the world I was thinking when I bought this or that article of clothing, much like I look back at my past and wonder why I did something or why I picked what I picked or cringe because an experience was just really embarrassing and I didn’t realize it.
And, that’s okay. People change. Trends change. Clothes change. We change.
It’s all part of life.
It’s true that you can view the world through so many different “lenses.” I can name a number that I use on a daily basis. But we often don’t realize that our views can become jaded based on the lens of choice for that moment, situation, day, etc.
One can see the world through a “I hate everything and I don’t want to be here so I am going to be miserable” lens, in which we see nothing good and are consigned to having a horrible time. One can look through the “no” lens, where everything that happens is a no-go and one is snobbish and unfriendly. One can look at the world through a “positive, peppy, I am not gonna show any sadness” lens, which seems good but ultimately makes you cry inside. There are positive lenses, negative lenses, neutral lenses, recovery lenses, destructive lenses… you name it and it’s a lens.
I admit, I’ve put on a ton of lenses in my life-especially through my recovery journey- and not all of them have been positive or happy. But the one I love the most is the lens I look through, literally, when I see the world through my camera.
There is a reason that “art therapy” exists in its many forms. It is freeing, emotional, raw, and often mind-opening. For me, this occurs most often when I am behind a camera.
Looking through the lens, I see the world as it is. I see the angles, lines, grids, elements, colors of the world around. I do not see opinion or personal bias. I cannot see in a jaded view through my camera. I cannot even see myself differently than how I am-though rarely do I take pictures of my own person. For me, this is freeing.
I don’t believe that photography is a “cure-all” for dysmorphia or misperception, but I do think that it can help.
Maybe give it a shot. Look through the lens of your phone camera if it is all that you have. Walk around and look at the world as if you have never seen it before. Let go of the judgements and the preconceived notions. Let go of them and give yourself the grace to let go of the judgements for yourself as well, at least while your eye is behind the camera lens.
Here are some of my photos from various periods of time. I use a Nikon DSLR camera and usually put it on manual. As you can see, I like flowers…