Kate | Peoria, AZ
Images by Kelly Koller
"I have this new urge to discover who I am, what brings me joy, and what comes next for me. I have made promises to myself to be more self aware and follow my heart. I also have this bravery or rebelliousness dwelling inside that I haven't felt in awhile."
There was never one specific moment or action that made me dislike myself. It was a gradual journey starting very young. I listened. To friends, family, peers, and society. I listened to what was desirable, fashionable, and cool. And from that developed this need to fit in, to be accepted, to be perfect, and to please everybody else. When these needs weren't met, the critical voice in my head would speak up. It would try to push me to do better, work harder, be something I was not. What it did not do was allow me to have compassion for myself. To accept myself for who I was. And in the process, I lost myself.
I want my body story to be one of acceptance, compassion and pride. All of those things that I felt I needed from others, I now want to provide to myself. I want self-doubt to disappear and be replaced by self-love. I want to feel lighter, freer, and joyful. I want to eat delicious food and experience movement and get great satisfaction out of that. And I want to be grateful for all my body has allowed me to do and all the adventures yet to come.
When I was 19, I started losing my hair and 20 when I was officially diagnosed with Alopecia. It wasn't long before I had lost over 90 percent of the hair on my entire body. I won't say it was easy, because it wasn't. I went through all the stages of grief over my hair. And just like losing somebody special, there are moments and days where I miss it so much it hurts. But what I realized in telling my body story was that being bald doesn't play a huge role in the way I define myself these days. I have accepted it and have come to terms with the fact that it may always be. There is nothing I can do to fix it. This was eye opening to me. Because if I can learn to accept what is one of my biggest "outward flaws" why can't I learn to accept my entire body. Just as it is, in this moment in time, doing the best it can for what it is offered. And the best part is that those flaws I see in myself can be fixed. With compassion and self care.
This project has created a new sense of lightness for me. I have this new urge to discover who I am, what brings me joy, and what comes next for me. I have made promises to myself to be more self aware and follow my heart. I also have this bravery or rebelliousness dwelling inside that I haven't felt in awhile. This desire to wake each day and evaluate what I want to do or accomplish, not do what I think is expected of me. To find fun, adventure, and live life to the fullest. And it all feels very empowering.
Portraits of Kate by Kelly Koller.