Louise – Age 25


Age 25

“A nude photo shoot,” I thought to myself. “This should be interesting.”

At first I took this project to be that alone – just a nude photoshoot, nothing too fancy. I didn’t think anything about me was quite right for it. A bit too fat, a bit too brown, a bit too plain, a bit too shy.

As you’ve gathered by now, there are some self esteem issues. I am all of the above. Who wants to look at that? Will someone look at me and enjoy me? Enjoy what they see? I had my doubts. The doubts showed on my face in the beginning.

Then came the questions. Who am I? What will the world see in my photos? Will they realize that my smile is both the truth and a lie? How about my hair? Will I just be labeled as ‘natural’?

I was a punching bag at age 6.

By age 9, I was still a punching bag, but also a play thing to satisfy new sexual urges that teenagers tend to experience. Of course, he didn’t ask me if I wanted to play along.

At age 10, I was a ball of rage, but fighting hard to keep that rage inside.

At age 16, I thought that one boyfriend, whom I loved more than life itself, would be the hero I needed him to be, if I gave myself to him sexually.

However, even after that, the rage didn’t stop. I’m nearly 26 and it still continues.

Maybe it has something to do with not moving on.

No, I have moved on, to a point.

As I got older, I was criticised for not moving on.

Why did I allow the past to give me nightmares?

Why did I allow it to affect my choices in men?

Why did I allow it to fill up every part of my being?

I wish I knew. I wish I knew how to undo how I turned out – mentally ill and unacceptable. However, I’m not completely unacceptable. Perhaps I should take that back. Despite what you see – rolls of fat, my Blackness, my nappiness – I am more than that.

Through my pain I discovered writing. I learned to play an instrument. I picked up a camera one day and never looked back. It’s unfortunate I had to sell my first SLR camera. It was a real gem – a vintage model that required much manual maneuvering.

So I might be black, fat, abused, angry, unacceptable, undesirable and heartbroken but these pictures, these bits of history are proof that no matter how much one suffers, there is a point when the suffering ends, even if only temporarily.

Sometimes that means looking at yourself and seeing someone beautiful and special.


 Sometimes, that means making the most of an opportunity that may never come around again.

I know I did.

And I think I look okay too.