Why I don’t want to celebrate me.
Written by Marina Romashko.
A while ago I saw a photograph taken by my favorite photographer, Katarina Kojic. It was an image of my architect friend Suzanna Tharian, and one of the many glamorous, powerful and beautiful images of Suzanna that Kat captured more than 5 years ago. Everything about the photo contributed to a timeless kind of beauty and it seemed to me that a personal photo had become a piece of art.
Or maybe it was art in the first place – the point was I wanted to have the same memory about me being 40 and celebrating myself.
Kat and I got on with the process of discovering the styles I was interested in, the characters I wanted to project, and the makeup and hair that would go along with all. But slowly my excitement was replaced with an uncomfortable feeling of being the center of attention.
I began to realize that at a very deep level I did not feel I was worth it. This bothered me. I am a feminist who should be confident and happy in her skin. Yet I wasn’t. It took me more than a year of soul searching and reading and more soul searching before I found what was bugging me.
The first thing that struck me was my discomfort around the simple act of putting my portrait on the wall. Kat had suggested it, I had loved the idea, but when it came down to it I was not so sure. It made sense that couples would put pictures of themselves up in their homes, they were after all celebrating their relationship. And couples with kids had even more reason to do so as they were celebrating family. But what was I putting my photograph up for? I had learnt that if you are single you are not worth it because we live in a society that celebrates marriage and babies. And as a product of society I was convinced!
But I had another, bigger problem. I needed to understand what it really meant for me to look and feel beautiful. Thus far I had given into what society has shown me – short skirts, tight t-shirts, make-up and a lot of smiling. But it didn’t make me feel beautiful. There was a disconnect somewhere and I realized it after reading a most eye opening book that you should immediately get hold of if you already have not: “Unscrewed” by Jacqueline Freedman.
In an interview with the author she talks about a concept that resonated with me, a concept that she calls ‘fauxpowerment’.
“Fauxpowerment is…selling “body positivity” while telling women they should feel bad enough about their cellulite or their armpits to buy whatever miracle fix is being sold. Fauxpowerment is how we can have “pornstar chic” while ignoring the fact that most women who work in the sex industry face overwhelming stigma, subpar labor conditions, and sometimes criminalization and physical violence. Fauxpowerment is the wild popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, a story that’s sold as celebrating female sexual awakening but actually shows a woman being stalked and abused into fulfilling a rich man’s desires. Fauxpowerment is a culture where breasts are used to sell everything, everywhere at all times, but breastfeeding is still taboo.”
I was, and still am, extremely uncomfortable with the idea that a woman is empowered by her cleavage, but at least now I realize I do not have to be! Who I am and what I am is enough. It is certainly a challenge to remember this everyday especially with the images we are still surrounded by but at least I am on a path that is more self-sustaining.
The journey was long and Kat patiently waited for me to get ready for my photoshoot. From working with me on my style requests, to agreeing to my idea of location, Kat held my hand and did a lot of deep breathing with me!
Of course the biggest transformation happened after the photoshoot when I saw myself through eyes of another. The process of this shoot opened new doors to new questions so I could get more answers and have an honest conversation with myself.
I had been on a quest to find an inner peace and feel worth it and I found it through the photoshoot with Kat. They say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and after all this time in my eyes I can be beautiful.
Link to the article on Fauxpowerment https://www.allure.com/story/jaclyn-friedman-unscrewed-book-sexual-pleasure
Marina is an amazing human who continues to challenge herself and her clients to look deeper and discover and bring their ideas to light and become their truest self. I am honored to be counted as her favorite photographer. Here’s a link to learn more about her business and how she helps people. https://bil.nyc/