Kasha Blu, mother

For a lot of my life, I did not celebrate myself whatsoever – I spent a lot of time shaming and rejecting myself. I experienced a sexual assault at a very young age, and then it happened again when I was a teenager. I don’t think I really took the time to process those experiences. You’re growing up, and the world is telling you all these changes happening to your body are positive – but it was reinforcing all the things that made the world feel really dangerous, and all the things I wanted to hide.

I threw myself into drugs, alcohol, lonely people, anything. I thought, “If I can romanticize this darkness that I’m in, then this is all my story, my narrative.” Little did I know, I was masking a lot, fooling myself into thinking that the things that were detrimental to me were empowering.

Having my son was an eye-opener. Giving birth to a human, I thought, would just change you by proxy. Looking back, I think I needed to give myself a reason to change – I didn’t feel I was enough for me to just change for myself.

For somebody like me, who experiences social anxiety and depression and is still working through trauma, child-rearing is a bit different. Feeling the pressure to bond with your child and be happy, and it not materializing that way, is so mortifying. You’re like, “Where are the sparks? Where’s the sunshine?” The level of guilt is insane – it can feel like you’re taking your child down with you. To get past that, you have to learn how to forgive yourself every single day. It’s the only way that I’m able to move forward and not spiral into a darker hole. 

After pregnancy, I thought that I was going to have this glorious, voluptuous mom body. Instead, I totally lost my appetite and fell really hard into postpartum depression. I’d gone down to skin and bones. I feel super strange in my body right now – and I feel almost guilty for saying that, because right now, I’m fairly healthy. It’s a bit of a weird place to be, but I’m learning to love my body and give it everything it needs, including positive feedback and energy. 

My body has done amazing things. It’s created a human. It’s kept me alive for almost 30 years. I’m still working through a lot, but I think you should still celebrate yourself in the midst of your struggle.

For me, doing this shoot is saying “I love you” to myself, and not being able to take it back. I think it’s time that my spirit embraces my physical self and treats it with kindness and goodness and sweetness, and nourishes it and is patient with it and loves it through every shape, size, mood swing, whatever. This is my grand gesture. It’s saying, “I’m sorry, let’s start over.”

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Samuel Engelking

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