When I started photographing myself, it wasn’t for the results. It was a practice and a process through which I was trying to see my body differently than the way I imagined it in my mind, and differently than the way I perceived my reflection in the mirror. It felt daring and risky, and it gave me more inner liberty than I usually felt, even if I was squeamish about looking at the photos years after I had taken them. It was a life-affirming practice of claiming my selfhood where it was most intolerable.
In this drawing, as in many of my early self-portraits, I am curled up hiding my vulnerability. This position is a wonderful yoga stretch called the Child Pose, which feels great and allows for rest after other extensions. When I drew this I was mad. Mad about my knee-jerk self-critical reactions. Mad about all the time I’d wasted hating myself and my body. Mad about just plain feeling bad about myself. What spilled out as I drew were these words affirming that I wanted to see my body in a different light and live more fully.
It’s not a promise I’ve been able to keep one-hundred percent of the time, but it remains my manifesto. And after twenty years of drawing my body and a wide variety of other bodies, I’m still drawing and writing what comes up, because it brings me peace.