GIRLS & self love
There is innocence in discovering yourself that goes back to your earliest memories; whether you were smearing on your mother’s lipstick and trying on high heels, kicking a soccer ball with the boys at recess, or filling coloring books by yourself under the stairs. Whether you wore pink or blue or your underwear contained one organ or another; there was magic in a childlike mind that was free of all preconceived ideas about who you should be or what to think of others. Free to feel safe in your skin, to run around topless, to hold hands with those who look different; to love unconditionally yourself and others.
It was with age that came the battle against individuality, slowly the world began to have more and more say on who you were going to become. Ideals and standards set by an earlier generation marked the precedent for living and being; aligning girls and boys into neat, tidy rows of unambiguous categories. Bundling kids into unrealistic stereotypes and demands of society, their actions criticized and put down, leaving children with painful insecurities and confusion. Imagine if this barrier was never built in the subconscious mind? Imagine adults as free and open and loving as children, letting our unique differences as individuals make us stronger together rather than building walls between every separate way of life and thinking.
Upon the observation of three young women, I watched an innocent and raw emotion overcome all when asked what they love most about themselves. They began to unfold like flower petals to the sunshine in a well tended garden, freely expressing the parts of themselves they had struggled most to accept over their lives. Secrets spilled from their lips of self-doubt and personal uncertainty and how they grew to use these insecurities as motivation and power over the years. They loved most their brightness and ability to spread sunshine through their lips, their hard work and toughness that got them through long, sleepless nights. The way they can find, hone and steer other’s creativity and artistic expression; to bring out the colors hidden
within those around them. They shared with me their success from being open to experience; adapting positively to growth and change, taking life with grace, composure and humility.
They began to learn over time that what they had taught themselves to hate most about their bodies usually tended to be the first thing new people complimented them on. The differences and flaws stitched into all of us are what stand out and make us unique to others; what are humans without our diversity? Without constellations patterned across our faces or sparkling galaxies where our skin stretches, revealing what we are composed of inside. Without freckles kissing every corner of your skin and curls that tumble like waterfalls across your statuesque shoulders.
The black and white photo set was done by photographer, Coleman Andersen @longtimevices and the models are Grace Nielson @graynielson Ady Tanner @adytanner_2 Cassidy Howard @cassidyhoward4 and Madison Dacklin @madisondacklin
To accept and nurture these differences is to develop your most powerful quality, confidence. To realize that your dirt, body hair, bumps and scars, stretch marks and tummy rolls are the most genuine reminder of what makes us alive- the only thing we have in common with all of humanity, our humility. When you learn to love and nurture yourself, you’ll begin to plant seeds in every individual you meet as well. You’ll tend to the carnations in your mother’s heart, the tulips wilting in the lungs of your closest friends, you’ll care for the roses in the eyes of every stranger and water the garden of every soul you meet.
So take time for yourself, to grow without distraction and think without scrutiny; be selfish with your time and don’t allow the world to steal every moment from you. Allow yourself to love with a childlike innocence, to love your body and soul, to love those around you blindly and without restriction. Accept your most intricate characteristics, flaunt them, own them; use that power of self love to love others, to spread growth and positivity, to be more open and empathetic. When you let love flow through you in every aspect of your life, the rest of the world sits in the palm of your hand.