I was telling a friend today that so many people have images of me that I have never seen. So i decided to treat myself and get some photos done. I wanted something Afro futuristic, daring and new. I wanted to explore and challenge myself to represent my image differently . Yes I am a Nubian Queen, Mama Africa but what else am I?
Identity is not static but sometimes I think that is what I have become. Its all too easy to get locked into the conventional, comfortable representations of Africans women as either seductress or mother.
Right now I need a challenge, something that is going to encourage me to push beyond my current boundaries and expand.
Life is about growth and death and right now on a personal level I feel I am experiencing a death as there are many aspects of my life that are changing. My mother is terminally ill, my marriage has come to an end. It’s interesting as its happening at the close of the year. I’m reflective and I’m asking myself what next?
Before the shoot I was thinking about stripping away the layers that I have accumulated, the titles, the perceptions, to reveal something i didn’t know what. But I felt I had to take a creative risk. So I decided to do some nude shots.
Honestly I wasn’t ready but I thought what have a got to loose? Would something new emerge?At this point it was more about the process not the outcome.
The other day a friend of mine posted something on FB about women who were happy with their bodies. How many industries would go out of busy? Like a lot of women I can always find something to complain about. My droopy breasts or my wrinkly belly. Its sad really. And so I embarked on a session of nude and semi nude images. Don’t get me wrong at first I was very self conscious, as the naked body had me thinking about sex and all those lewd thoughts we have when we see the naked form.
I realized this shoot wasn’t about me being perfect, but about allowing my essence to shine through my naked form, because ultimately when i strip everything away my name, title, body and mind, I am a soul who is not tied to any of those things. As is the case when trying new things I was very scared. I kept thinking about those women in Vogue and Elle and comparing myself.
Fortunately for me I was being photographed by a very creative mind who appreciated all those natural nuances of my form.
So at first I was afraid, what would people say? Would I handle the criticism or praise and not be phased either way?
But the more I breathed into my centre the easier it became, I wouldn’t say it was effortless but there were moments of surrender, when I allowed myself to be without judgment.
I don’t know whats going to happen to me creatively or personally but I know I am open to receive. To put aside my anxiety, fears and doubts. I want to empty myself. To put aside all those things that are holding me back.
If I was to relate this stage to nature I would say I am the mush around the pupa- full of nutrients, reconfiguring, redefining in order to emerge as a beautiful butterfly with a long tongue, drinking my fill of nectar until saturated.
Images by benjireid.com