re-picturing MEGHAN

It is with great delight that I kick-off the first Re-Picturing Women Wednesday by introducing you to Meghan Davidson. Meet Meghan!

Meghan writes Life Refocused in which she uses photography to build a creative life and focus on what matters. Her photography has been exhibited in the Emerson Gallery at the Lincoln Community Playhouse and she will be talking more about her creative journey on the Joy Factor on Radio Station KZUM on March 2 from 6:00-6:30 (central). Meghan’s photography and blog speak for themselves (both are amazing), but I have also had the special joy of getting to know Meghan in person as we both walk our creative paths. We met at UNL and discovered our mutual love of psychology, photography, good wine, and fabulous conversation. We also did our first photography show together! Meghan is a beautiful soul, inside and out, and I was honored and grateful that she had the courage and vulnerability (a wonderful combination) to be featured on Re-Picturing Women Wednesday. Below are some pictures that I think re-picture women perfectly, as well as, Meghan’s story of her body in her own words. Thanks, Meghan!

I absolutely love these pictures of Meghan because they show her practicing her craft in one of her favorite ways — with her Polaroid camera. Most images of women in the media show women as a object to be looked at by the audience (Kilbourne & Pipher, 1999). Rather than being an object of the viewer’s gaze, Meghan and her camera are focused back at the viewer in the above picture. In the below picture, our attention is drawn to what Meghan is doing, rather than how she looks. This is a very powerful perspective for women, particularly photographers.

The next picture is one that Meghan took of herself (her stomach, hip, and leg) as part of her self-portrait project and as part of Lincoln’s PhotoFest (check it out). I was struck by the beauty of the picture — the striking black and white, the enticing lines, and the interesting texture. Most of the time, our attention is drawn to women’s sexual body parts (e.g., chests), rather than women’s non-sexual body parts (Gervais, Vescio, & Allen, 2011). I asked Meghan if she would be willing to share the picture and what inspired it.

It was inspired by a black and white photo of a woman’s body that is currently on display at the Sheldon Museum of Art. I thought it was beautiful, strong yet vulnerable. Honest and authentic. That’s what I aimed to do in my own photo of myself.

Tell us a little bit about the story of your body. The story of my body…well that is a long and winding road. Currently, I typically feel pretty “okay” about my body. I believe I’m at a healthy weight and I don’t spend too much time stressing about losing weight, judging my body, or wishing my body looked radically different.

Has this always been the case? To get to this point has taken years. I have had a difficult relationship to my body since I was very young.

What  has this relationship looked like? I remember always feeling bigger than my friends…yes, I am tall and have been tall since about 5th grade, but this “biggerness” seemed to be more than just about height. I was always friends with athletes and very petite girls in school, thus, I felt Amazonian in comparison. I hated this feeling. I was my heaviest during the first two years of high school, and I don’t look back fondly at that period of time. I graduated from high school at a healthy weight and I remember feeling good about my body for a brief time. During college and the few years after, however, my weight and how I felt about myself and my body was a bit all over the map. I went through a very difficult time being overly concerned about what I ate, how I looked, and how much I exercised. I was very unhappy during this period of my life. It took alot of work and self-reflection to move out of that space of self-loathing.

What has helped you deal with these struggles? In the past three years, I had a significant health crisis that brought much of my life into sharp focus. Thankfully, I’ve moved beyond that health crisis, but am grateful that I think it gave me a better perspective about my body and what it can do, rather than how it looks.

Tell us about times when you feel most alive and energized in your body. What activities make you feel “in your body.” I feel most alive and energized in my body when I’m in nature–when I’m hiking or when I’m in the ocean. I feel so alive and connected to my body then. I also feel pretty connected and “in my body” during yoga, although that is still a work in progress. My mind wanders ALOT and I can get pretty distracted and NOT be connected and in my body, too. So, I’m working on my mind-body-spirit connection through yoga.

Anything else you’d like to share? I am struck by the negative comments that other people have made about my body during the course of my life, and how these comments have taken up residence in my body. It speaks to the power of words and reminds me to be careful in what I communicate to others about their physical selves.

I took these last two pictures of Meghan last night. I love these pictures for a few reasons. First, they are SO Meghan. Meghan is constantly writing and photographing affirmations. She also has an eye for hearts, often seeing hearts in everyday objects. Second, I felt so subversive taking them.  We went to the mirror in the ladies room at a restaurant and transformed lipstick (which is often used as an objectifying tool) into a body affirmation paint brush. Objectifying commentary from others can make us feel uncomfortable in our own skins — whether it is negative (which it often is) or even seemingly positive, it draws our attention back to the fact that we are being evaluated primarily on the basis of our bodies and appearance (Calogero et al., 2009). With all of the negative discourse about women’s bodies, I was delighted to offer some resistance. Meghan and I had such fun doing it and I hope that other women were able to look in the mirror and actually “choose love” (even if just for a moment) when looking back at their reflection.

References

Gervais, S. J., Vescio, T. K. & Allen, A. (2011). When what you see is what you get: The consequences of the objectifying gaze for women and men. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35, 5-17.

Calogero, R. M., Herbozo, S., & Thompson, K. (2009). Complimentary weightism: The potential costs of appearance-related commentary for women’s self-objectification. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 33, 120–132.

Kilbourne, J., & Pipher, M. (1999). Deadly persuasion: Why women and girls must fight the addictive power of advertising. New York: NY: Free Press.

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    • Tiffany
    • February 23rd, 2011

    Amazing Sarah – what a WONDERFUL post. Meghan – you are truly fantastic – love the pictures and your honest words. xoxo

  1. So honest, heartwarming, and beautiful. The words and photos together create such a moving story!
    Thank you for sharing yourselves. 🙂

  2. I love these pictures and these words – they emanate all kinds of beauty and life! Thanks for sharing Sarah and Meaghan – cant wait to see more Re-Picturing Women!

    • Celina Wyss
    • February 23rd, 2011

    Excellent kick off to your project Sarah! I love all the photos especially Meghan’s black and white of herself. So raw and real.

    • Tara
    • February 24th, 2011

    What a thoughtfully done post! I loved it!

  3. Wow, an amazing and inspiring post from two amazing and inspiring women. I just loved every word and picture. My special favorite is the look on Meghan’s face as she writes her lipstick affirmation- such a great smile!

    • Maura
    • February 24th, 2011

    Great posting. This is such an interesting project. Thanks, Meghan and Sarah, for sharing.

  4. So honored to be featured here. Thanks for the fabulous opportunity, Sarah, and congratulations in kicking off an incredibly amazing project! Bravo! xoxo

    • Lauren
    • February 25th, 2011

    I love this! Beautiful photos, thoughtful as usual. And whenever Steve & I get to Nebraska to visit, I hope we can meet Meghan. 🙂

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