In Our Sense Of Self We Trust…
Once upon a time, there was a girl, full of dreams and wide eyes, full of adventures, she grew to be a woman, like most, full of hope the dishes will get done before she is too tired to get undressed and that her fav dress will still fit and that no one will notice her unruly eyebrow hairs today, concerned with bills and low fat food stuffs and getting to work on time. Sometimes lost in the banal of the everyday. Sparkles and dreams are held, still floating there, waiting to release her soul, just after the washing is folded and the dishes are done.
Pushing and seeking her truth, waiting to find, waiting to fly, tethered to the everyday. But that is this madness we call life. The Human Condition. The struggle and the joy. The flight and the grounded, the balance. The tightrope we all walk.
Sometimes lost in the banal moments of my day, I feel so very ordinary. Just me. Insignificant. I can’t help but look at others and think, I am not nearly as sparkly as they are. Not even. So very grey. But, it’s not just me is it? I think at times a lot of us feel the same. That we are not as pretty as she is? Or as skinny as she is, or as sparkly…
Brent had asked if I would be in the IRLWT a little while ago. I was like hell no!! My neurotic internal dialogue overwhelmingly screaming; I can not possibly be in such a series with so many amazing sparkly women, so many beautiful lips and then me, hell no! I don’t want to just be another pair of dull lips in a line up of amazing red, I am too fat and too saggy and too wrinkly and too bland, oh hell no! How could I possibly?! (All nonsense silly notions that have nothing to do with anything other than my own silly insecurities)
I jokingly said I will be in the beards….. (I was thinking that way I cant be in a line up with so many beautiful woman and others wont realize how plain I am, silly I know but there it is. Plus I liked the idea of being the only female in the beards. Something subversive about it I loved) So a bearded me it was to be. And it turned out to be a kickarse image, much fun. And as it happens was the very last beard shot to be taken.
Along the last part of the IRLWT/IBWT process I have been lucky enough to be at a few of the shoots and have been exposed to the post/editing side of the images. The biggest thing I have learnt from all of this is that fundamentally we are all the same. So many amazing strong beautiful women and men are often also full of their own little insecurities and personal hang ups. It’s just being human I think. Just about each of us being at a different part of our journey, or a different section of our personal evolution. Up close, before the editing we all have such beautiful and fragmented flaws. Some that are a part of our story and some that are not. The editing process removes distractions, that’s all, removes the things that are not significant to the story that is being told. The final image is just the beautiful person you see.
Some amazing beautiful beings I have met during this process have reconciled how they feel and just don’t care anymore, or do and keep pushing to overcome it all. I admire them all. What makes them attractive is their sense of self, their desire to push past their insecurities and choose to be photographed anyway.
The IRLWT/IBWT collection of images are not just portraits. At all. It is the coming together of a group of strong, inspiring, creative, brave lips and beards. Beings who have each chosen to represent their self in a most definable manner. To be captured in a way that reflects who they are, who they want to be, their alter ego or their inner self. They are all amazing. What a privilege to be held within such a group.
They all have something to say, through their eyes or the way they hold themselves, the things they have chosen to bring to the image, they way they have styled their hair or make up or the outfits they have chosen to bring. Not one single one of them, or me, are special. ‘Special’ infers you deserve something more than somebody else. You do not. You are not special. I am not special. But, you are unique. I am unique. Right down to the creation of our very fingerprints. They are mine, and mine alone. No one else in this world has prints like mine. No one else in this world but you or I have that amazing, unique combination of body, mind and soul. Unique. And amazing.
And for me that is what all this is about. Red lips and Beards. Capturing and celebrating the commonality of the human experience and all that is unique within it. It is beautiful. The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. And it is beautiful.
And then of course there is Brent. Brent Leideritz Dearest photographer extraordinaire. Through his lens and his being he sees the world and the people within it like no one I have ever known. He who gives all these amazing people space to be whoever they choose to be. He sees beauty in people that sometimes they don’t see in themselves. He is gracious and patient and kind of heart when negotiating my fragmented female consciousness. He who listens to my hormonal tears: But I am not as pretty or skinny as they are! And tells me I am being silly. Tells me there are so many amazing beautiful people in this world if you look hard enough. But there is only one you. Only one you. He who gives me space to explore and fly and sometimes cry. Space and encouragement to just be. To be all I choose to be.
All The Things.
This is Brent’s IRLWT photograph of me. The very last shot taken and edited for IRLWT. There happened to be a miscount when B was putting the book together this weekend, short one red lip. Curious. Presently feeling very blessed for all of the things.
IRLWT & IBWT series concept, photography & post production- editing & beard!- b.
model, styling & make up- Aj