Possible Womxn 2/12 Brianna- Lost over 150 lbs
“It’s our choice to feel the way we want to about our bodies.”-Bri
From the moment Bri emailed me about becoming a part of this project, I knew she was going to be one of my ladies from the moment I read her story. The way she positively spoke about her body, overcoming her fears and wanting to show other womxn how to do the same. I was like, girl get your ass ready because I need you to be a part of this.
Brianna used to be much larger and has been ‘overweight’ her entire life. Growing up she lived a very conservative and very confusing life. She wasn’t attracted to men and was told she should be all while she was trying to find herself and figure out what she wanted in life and who she wanted. She was a teenager when she started to look at herself differently. Years later, Brianna has managed to lose an insane amount of weight, 150 pounds roughly and just recently found herself. She’s gay and she also loves God. She up and moved from her home town which was just setting her back and decided to start anew in Seattle. She has been here for roughly 2 years now and says it’s been the best decision she has made for herself. Growing up in the location she did, it was limiting for her to explore herself and her sexuality. Since living in Seattle, Bri mentions that she has just been blessed with so many opportunities, friends, careers and even lovers. Hell yeah! Welcome to the PNW my girl, for the most part we’re pretty accepting up here.
I asked her how she felt when she initially entered the studio and she said the first thing that went through her head was, “On no, there’s nowhere for me to change in here!” Then she quickly realized why does it even matter, she was about to get naked anyways! I asked how she felt after her session to which she said,
“I felt like it was normal. I felt like my body is okay.”-Bri
She related this experience of getting her photos taken to this one time when someone asked her if she was interested in womxn or not. Bri responded with a ‘maybe’ and the person followed with “Okay- cool!” Now, for most of you, you might think just an, okay-cool, response is weird. But for Brianna, an okay-cool was the nicest and least judgmental thing she could of said back to Bri. This person made her feel it was okay to share her sexual orientation preference and made her feel whatever her preference was, was okay. To relate that experience, which can be difficult being a gay womxn who was raised in a christian church, to how I made her feel in her skin and bones, is something truly special. To not instantly pass judgement on someone is how we should all be. It’s why I started this project and it’s why I wanted Brianna to be a part of this. We can pass judgement all we want but at the end of the day all that matters is the love we carry for ourselves and our body.
“As women we’re conditioned to hide ourselves, to be sorry, to want to be better, to have to be working to be something different and to look a certain way.” -Bri
“I can talk to my prettiest, thinnest friend about her body and she will still share her struggles with her own body.”- Bri
We are all in the same boat and we are all just trying to learn how to love our bodies one day at a time.
“It’s damaging the boxes we put ourselves in.”-Bri
I started off the interview asking Brianna how others had made her feel about her body growing up. Like many of us, before we get to an age where classmates, strangers or people off the internet feel the need and right to comment and shame us about our bodies, a close family member of Bri’s was the first to point it out. “You’re too fat and no one is going to love you if you’re too fat.” At the tender age of 16 Bri experienced her first painful body shaming experience done by someone she loved and trusted. It’s something Bri has internalized her whole life and still struggles with it today.
I asked Bri what part of her body she was most insecure about? She replied her tummy. She said she took on a whole new level of insecurities once she lost all of the weight. Now that all of her weight was gone she was left with the extra skin from the loss.
At the time that this happened Bri had the a small notion that she may be into girls. She didn’t fully know yet and all she understood was that she wasn’t attracted to men. She thought she was supposed to be and the fact that she was too big was actually going to be the reason she would be alone. At 16 she convinced herself, with the help of her loved one, that she would be alone her whole life because of her weight. PSA*Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles reading this, do your part to love your family by keeping you opinions about their body to yourself.*
“You’re still learning at that age and to be told that you won’t get this if you don’t look like this, you kind of accept that because you don’t know any better yet.”-Bri
This is a sensitive topic for me personally and I know for others as well. Sometimes the very first person who makes you feel shame about your body is someone you look up to the most. When negative comments from your parents, grandparents or any elder in your family are said about your body anytime between the ages of birth and 18, it can really mess a person up. This is someone who you love and respect and when you are a young child and a young teen, comments like that alter your entire life. To this day I still hear some of the remarks made about my body from loved ones in the past. That shit sticks with you forever. Your body sticks with you forever and it’s something special and sacred and beautiful and powerful. When you don’t even know how to be self conscious yet and all the sudden from a family member it’s the worst feeling ever and you are then programmed to hate your body.
“I want to be happy where I am and not let anyone make me feel negative about my body.”-Bri
Now that Bri is thinner she still has those doubts about her body and fears that creep up from her past. Now that she is not too fat for love and acceptance, will her saggy skin make her less worthy of love and acceptance? I got an idea, let’s not ask Aunt Sue and find out for ourselves. I can give you a big hint now, it doesn’t.
Bri talked to me about love on a deeper level. Loving yourself so you have the ability to love others. Yes I am hoping we all know this, but also loving yourself and your body so you have the ability to accept love. Not just a one night stand sort of love, but a love that requires faith, communication and trust. Falling back on those you care about when you need them. Saying, “Hey, you know what. I could really use a hug today.” Feeling comfortable within yourself to share your struggle and needs with someone else. It can be the hardest thing to rely on someone especially when you have been so independent your whole life. To say I need you now, will you be there for me? That takes A LOT. It’s something I myself am still learning. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to need love and support from someone. Asking can be the hardest part. But once we have love and grace for ourselves and our bodies, it becomes easier.
“You learn to guard yourself from intimacy.”-Bri
For the last five years she has been on a journey of changing those patterns. She decided to give her whole self to others all of the time and expressed nothing but her inner truth, and in return she has been blessed with so many strong relationships in her life because of it. We just all need to be ourselves right?
“No matter what I do to my body, it’s still gets me from point A to point B. I can fill it with bad things like alcohol or beat it up and it will still be there to serve me. So why do we have such hatred for our bodies when our bodies serve our soul?”-Bri
When Bri came out to her parents she said it was really difficult at first. Growing up very religious Bri was always expected to live a certain life. For years and years she kept this secret to herself and when she finally told them she said, “I am giving you the opportunity to love me in a new way.” Bri spent years of her life being this composite of what others wanted her to be. She wanted to love and be loved but realized she was doing it the wrong way. Not expressing her true self, who she really was and molding herself to what she thought other people wanted her to be. She wasn’t being true to herself and in turn she had people loving her for all the wrong reasons.
“To be at a place where I can live my truth and say this is who I am and I’m going to give you the opportunity to love me or not.”-Bri
“If I never came out to my parents they would not have had the chance to accept who I am
I asked Bri what her stance was on religion seeing as there were a lot of religious tattoos on her body. She is religious and has been her entire life, but as of recent her journey since coming out has been a little difficult. What Bri believes God to be is love and what she has encountered from the church hasn’t been very loving and accepting of the real Bri. My favorite quote form Bri talking about this is, “Or you can just love people, like why do you give a fuck about who I choose to love?” When Bri moved up to Seattle she has experienced so much love, acceptance and positivity. But, Bri has still run into some negative experiences here. She was attending a church when she asked if she could be a part of the worship team and play an instrument or even sing. They got all excited and started planning on getting things together for Bri and then one day before she was going to play she told them she was gay. She understood growing up in the church that this was a thing and she quote, “didn’t want to set anyone up for surprise” so came to them and told them her truth. After that she was told that she could not participate in the worship band but that she was still allowed to attend church. She was allowed to serve in other areas of the church but just not front and center of the church because of her ‘lifestyle’. *insert eye roll*
“Can I be gay and still believe in Jesus? Can I be gay and still be religious? Do I want to be religious?”-Bri
“I’m shocked!” said Bri when I asked her how she feels about her body now after the shoot and after all these years. “I feel like I have found a new side of me.” A side that she hasn’t been too comfortable with before. A side of her that feels like she can be open and intimate and not afraid of her body when spending time with someone she loves. It’s a whole hell of a lot scary to get naked in front of a camera, but for Bri and many others, totally including myself, sharing that side of you with someone else can be terrifying. To here her say that she feels like this is something that she can take on and feel so much confidence with made my heart sing. Being vulnerable is scary, being with someone else can be scary and for womxn all we do is think and think and think and over analyze and over analyze and over analyze. Now boom, you’re naked with someone in a bed, good luck brain.
“Hey, it doesn’t matter what my body looks like, let’s have this moment.”-Bri
“I now feel relieved knowing this facet of myself that I wasn’t aware of before and excited about the fact that I get to share my body in this way, flaws and all, to help inspire other people.”
“Who cares what people think, I am happy.”-Bri
The photo below might possible be my favorite shots of the shoot. It was my last frame, LAST FRAME and it was an accident. Once we finished I asked her how she felt, she fell back on the ground, flailed her arms out and while I was getting up and she was getting up I thankful was able to catch her expression of how she felt after the shoot. It’s a moment 😉 From Bri-
“I’ve been trying to really figure out how to express how I feel about this whole experience and how to put it into words. Even sitting here now, I’m still continuing to feel complex emotions about myself and about the freedom of being authentically me. This step in my personal journey has really been special to me.