I'm sorry if it seems I've been absent lately. As do many of you, I struggle a lot with maintaining my life. Trying to manage my fibromyalgia has taken up a lot of my energy.
Anyways, I just wanted to say that this woman is brilliant. Fierce. Sexy. Humble. Proud. Brave. And kind.
She sent me an email when I was in Colorado shooting all of these sessions I've been posting. I looked at my phone, opening the email, and read a message from a woman with PCOS and MS asking me to drive three hours away from Denver into the mountains to shoot her. Of course, I agreed to do it. And man do I treasure this day. The beauty in her, the beauty of the location, and her story are all special to me. Above all, we related in terms of pain. She was the first person to actually reach out to me about my pain, knowing it all to well herself. So, thank you woman. You are an inspiration. And I hope we meet again soon!
Be Kind To Yourself,
////// BEFORE SHOOT //////
How would you rate your self-esteem?
Between a seven and an eight.
What goes into that?
The positive thing is that I've always appreciated my wit, which kind of sucks because of the MS. It makes your mind slow down. I like feeling like I'm different. I've always tried not to go with the normal flow of things. Like my parents were ordained and licensed ministers and everyone in my family is religious. By the time I was twelve, I was questioning why I should take it all in faith. To me there was no proof of an existence of a God.
Why did you want to participate?
Because I can relate to a negative body image. I have PCOS. That causes weight gain, facial hair, infertility, so growing up everyone used to pick on me for having a mustache and a beard. I would go one week being 148 pounds and three weeks later I would be 175 pounds.
Explain what PCOS is for the readers.
It's Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The short of it is your pituitary gland overproduces insulin, which for some reason affects the ovaries, and causes them to produce extra testosterone. Testosterone in a woman will cause infertility, weight gain, depression, facial hair, acne, abnormal periods. Sometimes I'll have one for three months, sometimes I'll won't have one for three months.
What would you rate your pain level at daily?
Between the PCOS and the MS, probably at a constant five and some days its an eight. It's frustrating having that because when I was a kid, I wanted to be a Mom and someone elses significant other. I tried a bunch of treatments, they put hormones. Sometimes with the PCOS I feel more like a guy, in my personality and what affects me. When they put me on progesterone and estrogen; I felt like I was loosing my mind.
/////// AFTER SHOOT ///////
So how is your self esteem now?
I'm about a 67/10 right now.
It just feels good to be able to be who you are and not be ashamed of it.
What was your favorite part?
It was sitting up on the ledge of the porch.
What is your favorite body part?
Idk my eyes I think, people always say they're really intense and you can see spark in them.
Definitely my lips. My labia majora.
When I was younger it was really nice and perfect and symmetrical. When I was 18, someone, who I thought was my friend, raped me. I kept trying to fight him off but he was a big guy. He reached down with his right hand and grabbed my left side to get me to stop. When he did that, he tore it.
How did that change sex for you?
It was hard for me for a long time to be a guy. Because I looked down there and saw what that guy had done to me and what was taken from me. Anytime a partner would be down there, I thought he would notice. Like, "There's something wrong with you and it's ugly."
Did you get justice?
No. I was so ashamed. You know, like I said, my parents were religious. I thought by telling them; it would be my fault. Of course, it's victim mentality. We always think it's our fault. But if an bowling ball ever did fall out of the sky and land on him; I'd be okay with it.
A lot of people never report their rape because of that victim blaming mentality.
It's that right wing, southern mentality that leads that to happen. I wore a high necked shirt, I should be able to where a tank top or a burlap sack...the guy shouldn't touch it. It was just a breath of relief that he wasn't around me anymore in that same small town.
How has that affected the way you look at your body today and in the past?
In the past, I just felt disfigured. Hideous, basically. There were some guys that would say it was beautiful and they didn't notice anything wrong with it. But my mind, every partner I was with, that was at the top of my mind. Now, I think when you get older you look back on certain things and you come to a point where you don't use someone else being a jackass as a reason for you to bring yourself down. There is an acceptance. I guess just when you get older, you see things differently. You realize the past is the past and you can't let that define who you are in the future or present.
Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
Being a feminist isn't about the stereotypical male idea of being a feminist. It's not being a butch woman who just hates on men. That'd be like me calling every man an asshole, it's a stupid ideology. Not based on any real research. There is not empirical evidence to support that ALL feminist are butch man haters and ALL men are assholes.
How was middle school?
I was homeschooled. We played with the kids in the neighborhood. My brothers and them would pick on me big time. They'd call me Sasquatch. It was endless. The kids in church were the worst. They picked on us, and me, but we were really poor. I wasn't wearing guess jeans like the other girls and had a mustache, I was always poked fun at and left out.
Even when you explained it was medical?
I didn't even get an answer until I was eighteen because my parents didn't have insurance. When I was thirteen I started getting heavy periods, I couldn't move and we couldn't go to the doctor.
Recently, I went on a sibling outing thing with my two brothers. This girl in her twenties was their complaining about her children and I jokingly go,"I'll take em" and she goes, "Why don't you get some of your own?" and I go, "Well, because I can't have kids." My brother goes, "What why?" and I didn't say anything. My brother looked at him with this incredulous look and makes the gesture towards the facial hair and goes..."That's all from the disease she has."
It's all to easy to ignore a persons suffering when you can't see it.
Pretty much. I had a friend who never wanted to have friends. She wanted to become a computer animator. She wound up having kids right away, then my sisters had kids, and then the meth addict four doors down walking with her baby....her house exploded a week later from the meth lab.
And how does that feel to you?
It pisses me off. People like that, who don't even deserve to have a kid can have seven of them but I'm a responsible intelligent human being that would provide a great home for a child and I can't have one. It's true, people will be super insensitive. You'd think they could deliver it a little softer.
You think it's a good idea to stress to friends that you're sensitive about it?
Oh, they know. They knew. People ask you what you want to be as a kid. I said, I want to be a wife and a Mom. To not have that only thing I wanted in my life, that's a sore spot. But people get caught up and forget to stop and consider the people around them and how their actions affect everything.
It goes without saying that people should be more sensitive and aware of friends and family who are infertile.
It's really just being considerate. Using common sense. It's like a friend who hates mustard and of course you're not going to make them a sandwich with it. And you'll remember that because they're your friend. People forget to consider how much what they are doing and saying will effect other people.
Is there any last message you want to leave with the readers?
Someone I was working with in town, we stayed late to have a drink and talk. I was showing my fiance a picture of a 65 mustang with the front clip of a 04 mustang put on it because we're both car enthusiasts. I work on cars, I come from a family of mechanics. And the owner comes over and starts joking about me not knowing anything about cars. Soon enough, he was heated and angry that at the notion that I knew more about cars than him...because I'm a woman. Those were his words. "There is no way, because you're a woman." I looked at him, I asked "What's lift and duration?" and of course he goes...uh...I knew a few years aog I can't rememer. I ask, "What's compression? 11 to 1? What does that mean?" And he didn't know. So, my take on feminists is that I am feminine. I am a woman. I like being soft. I like have curves, wearing high heels, and lipstick. I deserve the same respect if I can do something as well as a man or better. That's from both men and women. Because there were woman looking at me with disgust for working in logging and a typically masculine job. I'm still a woman, but don't say I can't do the same things you do.
Do whatever your passionate about. If someone looks down on you, or says you can't do it, laugh in their face and prove em wrong.