I Woke Up Like This

For Anyone Who Doesn't Love Who They Are

This is for anybody who doesn't love who they are.

While the world tends to avoid the unpleasant parts of human existence; I illuminate them with this project.

Human suffering is an important part of our existence. It may not be something we enjoy speaking about but I believe we need to do so regardless of our discomfort. Because without knowing the sufferings of human existence, without empathizing with the struggles of those around us, we do not fully understand the importance of the parts of our lives that we do enjoy. Without knowing the suffering of others, we set a standard of treatment towards others that only mirrors that of our own struggles. And I can promise you; we all suffer differently. But at the same time, we share these oddly common themes of life.

Humans are persistent and marvelous beings.  The love we share with others, our sense of belonging, our accomplishments, the miracle of community, and the advancements we make everyday for the sake of our future all tie us together. Alongside the beauty we find common themes such as grief, loss of identity, self-hatred, survival, and the search for moments of happiness we can reflect upon when we draw our last breaths. We all want to be known, understood, loved, and appreciated. All of these good things we have in life began as tiny sprouts in a dessert soil of existence. The pursuit of happiness means nothing if we do not understand the journey there in all its beautifully dreadful facets. 

This project celebrates all of the strengths you can find within hardship. It explores these themes of existence I've mentioned through sociological and psychologically infused interviews. It reveals the secret struggles of everyday people around us and it enlightens the pain of the not so spoken of struggles of it's participants. It explains why people behave the way they do, how human suffering can change a persons behavior, and how that suffering can shape their identity. My heart has always ached for those who suffer like I have. I've always had to be patient with those who suffer because I was raised by those people. My entire family has suffered from addiction, mental illness, grief, poverty, and toxic shame for how they've coped. In a world where mental health services are only offered to those with the resources to obtain them. I am hoping that this project will create empathy within those who cast judgement upon the suffering. 

Through visual imagery of the nude body, in it's most natural state, I hope to draw people in with this common denominator. I don't chose my participants based on beauty standards or sexual prowess; I chose them based on how much they've struggled and how much they have not. To illustrate how people suffer differently based on race, gender, class status, sexuality, geographical location, and ability.

Someone I value immensely in my life once told me, "Don't do what is easy; do what is right". 
It's easy to pass judgement on those who don't fall into the social expectations of society.
It is hard to learn why they differ, empathize with the circumstances that build that difference, and understand their suffering.
 

I want those without a voice to have a platform to speak their truths.
I want the world to understand fear sparks hatred towards struggles we don't personally know.
I want everyone to wake up feeling like they are enough.
Above all; I want people to have as much love as they need to grow and be loved themself.
With that said...

I challenge you to understand those whose trespasses against you hurt most. 
I challenge you to empathize with the parts of yourself you aren't kind to. 
I challenge you to question your judgements about those whose experiences you know nothing of.
We all Woke Up Like This. 
We all have our dark secrets. 
We all have our bodily and mental imperfections. 
And that's okay.

Be Kind to Yourself,

Jillian