Photographs: Ella Meirovich
I’ve been preoccupied with my body image for years.
For 27 years everyone has been telling me things like, “You’re too skinny”, “Why don’t you eat something” and other things that have to do with my thin appearance. I had my first breakthrough on the issue during a Landmark Self-Expression and Leadership Program I attended, when a group of us went to the beach one Friday and I took off my shirt for the first time.
But, let’s go back a little.
When I was a kid and we used to go to the pool, and also when they tried to teach me to swim, I would always go in the water with a shirt on, because I was embarrassed. I didn’t feel comfortable taking off my shirt in front of so many people.
After coming out of the closet, I started using the various dating apps and each time I tried to meet someone for romantic purposes, the responses I got were varied but unequivocal, such as “Not my taste” and “You’re too skinny”. I took it really hard.
I took every rejection personally, as if they were rejecting me. Rejecting how I look and negating my body because of what it is and because it doesn’t meet the standards of our society’s “ideal of beauty”, and especially that of the gay community. Like something isn’t alright here. Something in me isn’t alright.
We’re living in an era in which there’s a lot of talk in the gay community about Body Pride, in an attempt to do away with the ideal that society dictates to us. Yet party invitations still display pictures of well-built, muscular men who pass the “selection test” of the ideal. That’s how we live. We justify all of the “this is how it should be and this is how it should be done”, and we give ourselves up to it.
When I was studying studio photography, we traveled down south for a weekend of nude photography. We were given an assignment in which each of us was to pose for a self-portrait. It was clear to me that the person who would photograph me would be Eli Hadida, my best friend from those months as a photography student.
We went to a remote location in the desert, near some boulders, where there was a tree branch.
I cried from the fierce cold.
I was told to think about why I’m doing it and I just got into it.
It was a shaking, moving, and powerful experience.
I cried because of this amazing gift I was given.
To love myself. Without clothes. Out in Nature.
I cried of happiness.
Photographs: Ella Meirovich
Now, fast forward to a month ago.
I was at the beach with my best friend, and for the first time ever I took photos with my shirt off and I also went into the water. I simply was at peace with my body, and even with the spots on it. This is my body and this is how it’s going to stay.
During the time I was being coached, I understood that the fact that people say “No” to my request to get to know them or to date them, has nothing necessarily to do with me, and I learned not to take every rejection to heart. I simply let it go and I don’t force the issue anymore like I used to in the past.
A new world opened up for me.
Every person should be at peace with their body, embrace it, and love it. Love what you have and what you don’t have. The way God created it.
I’ve also taken this to my profession as a photographer, when people say to me things like “But I don’t look good in photographs” or “I don’t like how I look!”.
My approach is that all kinds of people can be photogenic. Whether you are fat or skinny, smooth or hairy… everyone.
Everyone can love to look at themselves in the mirror and in photographs.
Everyone is perfect just the way they are and whatever their shape.