(written in 2017) and tweaked.
The lack of love, the lack of self love seems to be vast spread, not just in your bedroom, but for many people, in schools, colleges, every walk of life. Actually everywhere we look we seem to find people comparing themselves and wondering why they are not good enough, wondering why what they have isn’t like their idols or like the people in the magazines, or even why their bodies are not how they envisioned themselves to develop.
My name is Jamila, a professional performer turned model with measurements far from your average runway model. I am long off the height of a girl you would imagine to be on the cover of a magazine, and my curves definitely don’t allow me to conform with the common ideals of fashion. Yet I can say that my career has been rewarding and I have been able to film commercials, shoot catalogues and for what I am most distinguished for, the covers of Playboy.
I know what your thinking, a girl who has the confidence to be shot nude for an internationally renowned magazine, how could she possibly understand? How could she attend press conferences and TV appearances and struggle or comprehend what it is that I am feeling? Well, it has not been an easy path to get here. And still it can be a struggle as I am in a fragile place. The logic behind being in the spotlight can be seemed to be that because I have chosen to have a career in the public eye, where sexuality often takes center stage, I have also subliminally asked to be criticized or have people comment on my looks and my body. I enjoy my work, I enjoy empowering people and not just women to embrace their sexuality, we all know an army of social norms, religious restrictions and moral taboos surrounds sex. And I don’t think it should.
But for me it was an alter ego, and I wished I had the confidence that I had on set in real life, without the cameras and productions. I wished the harbored hatred I had been building inside was love and adoration for my reflection.
The rollercoaster to get here and to keep going has been difficult. As a younger girl I was immersed into a world of dance and theatre where I couldn’t understand why my body would never be that of a prima ballerina, why I would never be the lead role or why the thigh gap I wanted so desperately, that everyone spoke of, no matter how I stood would never of fit my body. Those days of staring in the mirror and having days of hating what I saw looking back at me & developing body dysmorphia and counting calories are not to far from the past.
My journey to self-love is on going; the appreciation I have for myself is something I have now become committed to. I can’t get those moments back where I listened to other people degrade my body, and tear me apart for nothing more than that my looks were not to their liking. I can’t get back the times where I denied myself food, or pretended to enjoy meals only to throw them up. And I cant get back moments where I should have been a happy young girl proud to be curvy and enjoying my body and the moments I was living and traveling for, trying desperately to be something I was not and could never be. But I can try to educate others so they don’t loose time hating their reflection.
You see with all of these beautiful people in the spotlight you a thrown an ideal of what you should look like, but maybe that epitome of beauty is only being shown at the right angles. As models we are educated, and we learn our angles. As a curvy model I know there are angles that favor my body shape, or poses that would look amazing on a model who was taller and more slender than I, and would not “work” on my body for publication. But because you as a consumer are not seeing it you believe it doesn’t exist or that it is not beautiful, but we all have those angles we don’t like, for all models, for all people! There are always going to be certain lighting that do not flatter. But that is ok. That little roll above your jeans does not define you, those dimples on the tops of your legs do not make you any of a better or worse model, doctor, teacher, lover, mother or person.
I want this piece to encourage you to start the journey towards loving yourself. It is long and testing, but it is the most rewarding. This will not happen overnight and I want to work with you on the journey, because I too am on my way, and I want you to know that no matter where you are going or your future plans, however much you succeed you will have difficult days. There will be days when someone will say a soul destroying comment, maybe those jeans you bought last year just don’t do up anymore, or the dress you loved so much hangs off you due to a recently lost too much weight. These reasons are not motives to take a step back. The people who make comments without thinking about your appearance are not going to send you back to the self-hating calorie counting sad and lonely person that you used to be. Assurance is sexy. Self-love is sexy. The answer is within you. With all these social reassembled beliefs that physical attractiveness depends on physical assets makes it hard for us all to embrace the skin we are in.
Self-love is the approach we have towards our own body, what we perceive when we look at ourselves, & what we feel about ourselves. This journey is about getting to a place where we are not fazed by the opinion of others on our bodies. Embracing our flaws and ourselves and loving what we have to offer whatever size we are.
I commit to showing more of the real me on this page, because it is detrimental to our mental and physical health that we are exposed to the glamour show business world but also see the real life and personalities of everyone, because we are all people. I want you to grow with me on this journey and I hope that by taking the first step and offering myself to everyone reading this that maybe just one person will not feel so alone.
Film Photography, without retouching. BURKE