I remember the day I saw the call on Instagram about taking part in this feature. I was feeling very frustrated by the body image attitudes being projected onto many of my peers in opera. So doing this was in some respect an act of rebellion.
In opera, our body is our instrument. Its hard not to be hyper-critical of every element youre putting out there.
I think opera is trying to keep up with other entertainment industries in being hyper-focused on the body and putting forth a certain kind of look. Hopefully the music and the voice still come first. But its competitive, so its easy to start obsessing about the way you look.
I think Ive grown into my body in the last five years. I wasnt very comfortable as a teenager. I grew up in a pretty small town, and most of the girls my age were very athletic. I was musical and a bit of a nerd I played video games. I wasnt bullied, but I wasnt asked to join a lot of things.
When puberty came, it hit me like a brick in the face. Suddenly I had a very womanly body, and I didnt know how to deal with that. Its taken me years to feel like the woman Im displaying to the world.
Ive also had to get used to seeing photos of myself. As a performer, people will take photos of me and most of them are of me mid-singing, and the faces you make as a singer can be horrendous, not super-photogenic.
Im learning to come to terms with that. My body looks how it looks because of what I want and need to do with it. Now when I look at a picture, I think: I liked myself when that picture was taken. The picture is more than about me having to look good.
Every woman and some men who eat a cheeseburger feel weird guilt about it. How will it affect my body? How will it affect how I look? How will people treat me? Ive come to a point where I forgive myself for feeling guilty and just eat the damn cheeseburger.
I would love to send the message to people that nudity doesnt equal shame. Your body is and can be so many different things. And you should be the person who decides what it means. Dont rely on other peoples perceptions for that.
See last year’s Body Issue here.