A few weeks ago I had the honor of shooting with local north Georgia photographer, Jesse Timms, out in the woods and by a lake up in Allatoona, GA. Let’s just say, the experience was an exciting one and a learning experience for me. Overall, the photos were brilliantly captured despite the harsh lighting; which was giving Jesse some trouble, but he was able to work past it and grab amazing shots using the lake and woods as a background. For me, I learned some lessons around what shoes to bring to outdoor photoshoots and also be very aware of ants in your pants when you put them back on.
This photoshoot ended up being particularly important to me because it was right after I finished up doing the Whole 30 Challenge; a diet where you only eat protein, veggies, and fruit. It was a goal of mine to tone up my body and lose any water weight I may be hanging on to. This shoot was going to be setting the playing field for what I would look like after eating healthy for 30 days. Boy, did it make a difference in the photos! In the end, it made me feel incredible about my body and be proud of my eating and workout habits I had established.
Another reason why this was all important to me is because it was helping me overcome bad body image from when I was bullied as a kid and teenager. I was never “big” enough, never “tall” enough, never “strong” enough, never “manly” enough, never “spoke” correctly, and was “that” kid. The girly one… the faggot. The one who never really fit in with the other guys. The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t any different from another middle school child or high school kid going through puberty, I just happened to love running, theatre, and the performing arts. But, it was enough to label me as not normal; which then trickled down to cause the bullying. Whatever is different around us, we tend to not give a chance, enjoy, or like.
Now, this all took place over five years ago and I am happy to see and hear a shift with the younger generation to be more accepting of different types of people. But, I still believe there is an underlying issue with body image and stereotypes needing to be addressed by our generation, aka the Millennials. I’ve come to notice some people don’t understand the words they speak around them can hurt others and destroy a very fragile body image or healthy self-esteem. For example, faggot, retarted, man-up, cock sucker, that took balls, don’t be a girl, and many more combinations of words that have come about over time. My challenge to you, since you are reading this post, notice the words you use, notice how your usage twist the meaning of some words, notice how many negative words you are using, notice how many more positive words you can use, notice how having a positive outlook on life can impact your life and others around you for the better.
This might seem all fluffy, rainbows, and unicorn garbage to some people. But, if we start talking with a positive outlook and remove stereotypical or missed used words from our negative dictionary, I believe it will impact the world around us. All it takes is changing our perspective to change the environment around us.