Last week, I had the privilege of listening to a former portrait client speak to a roomful of people about her struggle with and triumph over anorexia.
She is 21 years old, and I photographed her and her twin brother the year they graduated from high school in Singapore. I had never photographed a grade 12 beauty quite like her before: she was the very embodiment of every feature that girls in the West are indoctrinated to believe is external beauty: very thin, long blond perfectly coiffed hair, immaculately applied makeup, stunning clothes, tall, heels, dazzling smile, etc. At the time, no one knew she was battling anorexia. I recall feeling empathy for her brother, assuming that he had spent a lifetime living in the shadow of this perfection.
Her freshman year at university, her weight plummeted to 72 pounds – about 33 kilos. My 10-year-old daughter weighs more than that. Needless to say, she nearly died and will have lasting health issues from the near total starvation of her body. Her psychosis was rooted in control and abandonment: her master – what she calls her ‘monster’ – the relentless and unattainable mirage of perfect beauty.
We know that true beauty is not external, yet we don’t really believe it. Today’s photos celebrate external packaging of a more inclusive nature: beauty in diversity, in the wondrous skins and body machines of everyday people.
This post was first published on Executive Lifestyle Magazine and has been reposted on Executive Lifestyle with the permission of the author.