WARNING: NSFW SELF PORTRAIT IMAGES
TRIGGER WARNING: Invalidation, Self-Harm, Slut Shaming, Mental Illness, Bipolar.
It has been so long since I have done a self portrait editorial, and more importantly, it has been far too long since I updated about my mental illness. My last notable self portrait series about why I came back from Melbourne can be found here. After many instances where I had to beg doctors for help, only to be turned away under the circumstances that I need to find a nice boyfriend, have more sex, go outdoors more and one doctor told me that I needed to be swallowing cum to solve my depression... I was diagnosed by an incredible doctor who listened, with Bipolar disorder.
Suddenly the world started to make sense, or well... my symptoms did. Some believe that it doesn't matter what you're diagnosed with, that you just have to roll with the punches and not put a label on it.
For me, the label couldn't have come sooner, as soon as I looked up the symptoms of both mania and hypomania, my breakdowns and emotions started to make sense. I could look up how other people deal with the illness, how they handle explaining it to their friends, family and strangers. More importantly my doctors now knew what medication to put me on to calm the symptoms and help me live life semi-normally.
I still have anxiety, depression, social anxiety, my iron/copper levels are really out of wack and I have pyrrole. So, it's no wonder a human like me isn't too fond of the concept of going to a normal job with an employer, being on time, being happy, being...normal isn't how I am. If there was an opportunity to do what I am comfortable with, at home, earn decent money and save for things I couldn't even imagine now... such as a new camera, holidays, moving out. Why wouldn't I?
I have always been a female who has been comfortable with her sexuality, I started experimenting with the concept at a very young age and in a positive light. In my younger years, I have been betrayed by men and women, nudes were stolen and posted on the internet, love songs I wrote and sent to one person alone were downloaded onto the phones of an entire boys school, only for my 15 year old self to be mocked for feeling for someone betrayed my trust and hasn't seen the likes of me since.
Yet, I am still here and I am still someone who is liberated in every single way by sharing how comfortable I am with my body and sexuality with the world. I have reclaimed the consent, the images I post are with my full explicit permission and it is all in my hands now.
This is usually perceived as being slutty, and I use the word slutty because it is the most commonly used toward women who are wearing, little clothes, red lipstick, high heels, bikinis, chokers...etc.
Now, I don't want this to turn into a slut shaming based post, but it needs to be addressed. In a society where the only attribute that people appreciate of a woman is her appearance, why are we suddenly ridiculed when we wish to use that to make money?
I know it is not the only contradiction that society has blessed us with, and there are 'bigger' issues, but the fact is right now, it is an issue that affects me and a lot of women I personally know, so I believe I can talk about it with a level of experience.
Feminism has helped me with more than just this, it has helped me understand the struggles of other women in different situations to me, it has helped me become aware of women of colour more than anything.
Feminism isn't "cancer", feminism helps empathise with people different to you, it helps get you outside the bubble of yourself as well as helping you accept yourself.
The reason why it was feminism that helped me with this, and not life/men and women in general is because I have never been so inspired in my life, than when I see women who I can see myself in, fighting for something that they and I believe in.
Mental health weaves it's way into the web of feminism also, which is why I have intertwined the two in this post. Unfortunately there are a lot of un-educated people when it comes to the topic of feminism, which leaves myself and many others under fire for simply stating they believe in the rights of others.
Lately I have felt myself affected by the words of others, I have seen myself questioning my own values, and the values that have been taught to me by strong beautiful women who I look up to, purely because someone I care about does not share the same views and has friends who think the same. When people talk bad about other women, I feel the pressure of those words. If someone looks at someone's job and calls them a whore, I feel the pain.
If a human can disrespect one woman for something as trivial as what they are wearing, then who is to say that they do not think that about me as well? I am not a woman who usually sits by while someone talks trash about another for how much sex they have, if they are a sex worker or what they post on social media.
But lately... I have been failing myself. I thought I was getting stronger, I reached the pinnacle of independent and my life was on track to be brilliant for 2017 and one simple opinion and a number of comments has pushed me into the ground again.
This set of images is taken and edited purely on an IPhone 7 Plus, with the help of the Apple Watch Series 2, because i'm an apple slave, i'll admit it.
There is no 'retouching' on these images, only colour changes edited on the phone. They're not meant to be pretty, it's acne, rolls, scars and all. These images represent myself fighting back, but also failing as I have not stood true to my beliefs.
Love is drowning me, but I can't come up for air without pulling the plug.