Possible Womxn 1/12 Yuki- I have Eczema
Yuki’s name also means- give hope. SO THERE WE GO UNIVERSE.
“If everyone was as supportive as you, maybe I wouldn’t have these insecurities.” -Yuki
This was the first thing Yuki said to me after our session and it couldn’t align more with my reason for starting this project. No, not everyone is like me and is a photographer of the human body and sees the body the way I do. I see all bodies as beautiful and deserving of love, sexy photos and self expression. I see you for you, I see your beauty as it is and I want to showcase that beauty for everyone no matter how they look. So no, not everyone is as supportive right now, but this is exactly why we are doing this, together. It’s to break the body stigma. It’s to show others out there to start loving ourselves and our bodies and loving others for who they are. To speak kindly about our bodies and especially kindly to other bodies.
I also wanted to take a quick moment before we get in here to thank everyone so much for all the submissions, kind messages and words of encouragement around this project. I can tell you this, I have already photographed 2 womxn now and it is already so amazing and inspiring and powerful and I’m thankful for all the ladies and future ladies of the project and for their bravery and willingness to be apart of something truly special.
This is Yuki- Yuki is in her early twenties and has suffered greatly from eczema head to toe her entire life. Yuki, happens to be a good friend of mine and I was not aware of the severity of her eczema until our session. Hearing her talk about the daily struggles she faces constantly and how turbulent her past was with her eczema. I had no idea, not a single clue the toll it really takes on my sweet little, Yuki. I was completely heartbroken for her. This is also when I quickly realized that these photos and this project is definitely bigger than boudoir.
I was lucky enough to meet Yuki as a model and worked with her over the past year. Yuki started modeling to break those barriers of what she thought she could and couldn’t do due to her eczema. She had several shoots and worked with many photographers over the the months but took a step back recently. She hated seeing her skin in the photos. She thought she was being a burden to the photographers as well who had to smooth out her skin. I never once smoothed out any of Yuki’s skin during any one of our sessions over the year. She felt she needed to take a step back because she was being too critical of herself when she would get the photos back. This was one of her first sessions she had done in months, I was so incredibly proud of her.
Yuki used to think of herself as a monster not too long ago. A monster who at night would attack her own-self, unknowingly, because she was sleep scratching. She would wake up most mornings with blood on her skin, clothes and sheets and would think, “how could I do this to myself.” She looked at herself in the mirror and didn’t recognize who she was looking at. She was a in her early twenties around this time. Her parents had to bathe her for many years when she was younger. When she was a little girl she wondered if her neighbors thought her parents were abusing her or something because she would scream so much in pain when she had to take a shower. The screaming doesn’t happen today, but Yuki say’s it is still painful when she showers, a bath is less harsh on her skin.
“Like right now, these are my eczema eyes. I feel tired all the time because I have this coating on my eyelids that makes them heavy.” -Yuki
“In some of the poses I could feel my skin stretching and pinching because it’s so tight” – Yuki
When Yuki was in high school she spent most of that time in and out of school. She said her mom would have to call in saying she had the cold over and over again. She couldn’t bring herself to even move the slightest because it felt like her entire body was on fire and the littlest of movements were incredibly painful. She said the only thing that helped and made her feel fine, or even just a little bit okay, was just remaining motionless in her bed.
To this day, she still says that sleeping is a nightmare. Most nights she can’t get to bed until 2-4am and when she does she on and off sleeps for only a few hours. Every morning she has to wake up and rip her clothes and sheets off of her skin because they will stick to her/her wounds at night. When she was younger she would always keep her hair cut short so she didn’t have to rip that off her neck in the mornings too. Some mornings if her skin is sticking to her clothes too much, she’ll just hop in the shower with them on to make it less painful to take them off.
“My shoulders are always up by my ears because sometimes the elements like cold and wind can hurt my neck.” – Yuki
“Yeah, you basically having cold harsh air on your open wounds- that can’t feel too good.” -Kendra
“I’m not proud of my eczema, but it’s apart of me.” -Yuki
Yuki used to be on a ton of medication for her eczema, one of them being steroid cream. She told me the cream was made to have her skin look clear, but it was never fully clear and her skin in the end felt worse than it did before. She said when she would put the cream on her body it would just sit there and over time she told me she felt like she had been punched and bruised all over her body. It made her skin worse and her mental state even worse and she stopped taking the medication after realizing she was bed-ridden for half a year because of it. She has to skip so much of her schooling because of the medication. Medicine… Medicine that was ‘supposed’ to make her better made her leave her schooling because it was too painful for her to show up mentally and physically. How -FUCKED is that. I will not start my rant on the health care system because that’s not what were here for, so moving on.
Besides her eczema Yuki struggles with her body shape overall. She says for her whole life she has been this tiny, none-curvy, flat here, flat there kind of girl. She sometimes thinks that without her eczema some of her other insecurities that she struggles with been seen more.
“Without eczema, I’m just a tiny, curve-less girl. If I have eczema as my excuse to hide my other insecurities, I can cover everything up at once.” -Yuki
“In doing that, you were also enabling your other insecurities because of your eczema, making your relationship with your body worse.”-Kendra
Today Yuki say’s that things have changed. Her eczema is not nearly as bad as it used to be when she was a child. The thing Yuki struggles more with today is her mental state. She told me that when she was a child she was still a happy kid despite the horrible things she had to deal with in her skin. She said when she was younger people, friends and classmates didn’t care about her skin and neither did she really. But as she got older, the more and more she would hear, what is that? This stuff on your skin. What is that? And I bet you already know where I am going with this because we ALL have been there. But the older we get and the older others get the more shit, opinions, nonsense, comments, doubt, fear, complexity, anxiety and feelings hit us and just like that, all the sudden we’re stuck in our own thoughts and we don’t know how to get out.
“Today thing’s are opposite for me. My mental state is worse today than it was when I was a kid.”– Yuki
“Of course it was. You had eczema but you didn’t care because you were so young and you also didn’t know how to be self conscious yet.” – Kendra
Yuki is getting better at loving her skin. She says the one thing that has kept her going is the undying support from her friends and family. Yuki was alone and suicidal for many years. She thought eczema had taken control of her and her only way out of the pain was through death. Seeing her mom and dad and all her friends worried about her made her think that maybe she shouldn’t be here to help protect them. I don’t understand how she physically feels, but I know that when I have an itch, it fucking sucks and I cannot imagine that being all over my body.
Yuki has faced a lot in her life, and when you are someone who is alone for most of it and in physically pain, the easy way out always looks like a good option. It’s sometimes hard to be in our own bodies and our own mind. I can’t imagine too many others out there who are as physically strong as her. The physical and emotional pain she has dealt with her entire life makes her one courageous, brave woman. For not only loving and accepting her skin, but for having lived in her skin which has not been easy.
Yuki turned the impossible to possible. One of the first women I have seen to be photographed this way with all head to toe eczema. Thank you my little love for your courage, strength and self expression during this whole process. You my dear are inspiring so many.
Yuki’s response to the photos-
“My first reaction was, Oh My Gawd!” in a mixed way. Usually when I look at photos of myself I always point out the flaws. This was similar but more of an emotional rollercoaster than usual. I kept catching myself giving negative feedback towards the photos and feeling uncomfortable especially looking at my skin that is not re-touched or photoshopped at all. But then I look at the ones you caught of me smiling and I realized how harsh I was being on myself. I am having fun in my own skin and yet here I am criticizing myself. Part of me even prefers the black and white ones more because you can’t see the skin irritation as much.
But then I go back to the ones of me smiling remembering all the fun and giggles we shared during the shoot. As I scroll towards the end I start to see myself being more comfortable and during the shoot I remember thinking, “so what, take your top off!” I released myself. I was dancing and I was breathing. None of which I was doing when I was looking at the photos. I was tense and judging myself. I questioned, “would I say these things to other people.” No. You are your worst critic they say, and it’s true. But now, the more I look at the photos, the more I see past my physical self and the more I see me. The photos towards the end really make me feel like, “Okay girl, you’re slaying!” These photos remind me to let go. Having said all this I am so glad I did this. It was a challenge for me, I have never let anyone take shots of me like this before and I am so grateful for the experience. You made it into art. I hope people around the world who don’t have clean skin can see this and think that they can do it too. It’s a great reminder to love yourself, thank you, Kendra.”