how do you define success?
I have a lot of stuff I need to write about. The expectations of women over 30, the toxicity of people thinking weight loss means healthy, but If I stay away from strictly women issues and think about careers for a minute, I think about the topic of labeling and success.
At weddings, most guests are more impressed that Im a prof [and I get it, I’m young] vs the fact I’ve run a salary-living business for over a decade. Most people will ask me more about my teaching and education rather than my personal business. This is partially due to the fact that back in the day [lol], only studio photographers who had their own buildings and lighting scenes were ‘professionals,’ but that word and this industry has shifted a TON since then. The fact is my business pays my bills, teaching at a university does not. One requires a degree, one does not [although it has proven very helpful].
Success. Is it followers? likes? comments? or is it something that pays your bills. I know that probably 60-70 percent of people ‘following’ me are never going to hire me. I stopped fixating on my interactions with people, other artists, photographers, because at the end of the day they aren’t the ones paying my bills. Success to me is a variety of things. I’ve been published in multiple magazines, online and tangible. This was such a big milestone for my business in 2014 – and one i’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about it. Success is helping others. Photographing people who deem themselves unworthy of representation and them loving that representation. Success is finances. Knowing I can stop taking weddings at any point next year, and I’d still be able to do the things I want, pay for what I want, do what I want.
We have gotten stuck so far into this social media and engagement shit that we forget that likes don’t pay our bills, followers don’t make us better artists, and idolization is just a good avenue of getting ridiculed.
What is success to you? and how can you re-define it in your mind to be something healthy, achievable and realistic?
In the discussion of pressures on women over 30 – I started to think about me progressing and aging. The fact I still feel 18, the fact my grandparents told me they don’t recognize who they see in the mirror at this moment, all of these instances are pretty loud to me right now. I know a lot of women who want to wear crop tops because we are finally in a state of body neutrality and stopped giving a fuck about expectations but aren’t young any more. This new generation really paved the way for people to show the parts of us we have been told to hide again and again throughout our lives.
The truth is we all feel a bit off. Like we don’t belong. I’d say 28-45 you feel like you want to be apart of the trends but like your expiration for that time has come and gone. But again, this is the moment when we actually start loving ourselves, actually stop giving a fuck about others opinions, actually choose happiness over starvation for an image that no one but ourselves care about. And you know what? Im sure people over 45 feel like that, too, I just cant assume or speak for them.
I think the hardest part about this, is the fact that people have been SO conditioned to think that weight loss is the end goal, and commenting on it is the first thing people do when they see us in the first time in awhile. Just last weekend I saw someone close to me go up to someone and comment on their weight and how they looked good. This was what kept me starving myself. I got comments and affirmation of the unhealthy habit and continued it. The moment I stopped and let my body be what it needed to be, those compliments completely stopped coming. I discovered that I can work out 5-6 times a week, HARD, for like an hour and a half, eat a strict diet and worry about every bump and bruise, or I can work out when I want, aiming for 4 times a week and eat moderately and my body will have the same composition. The only time my body does change is when I only eat 500-600 calories and man, that’s such bull shit it’s not even worth my energy or time.
In the last year I have chosen me over my punishment of working out 6 times a week. I have said no to smoothies for breakfast because I just wanted a bagel. I have started to actually get rid of the guilt of taking a complete rest day. Since this acceptance, I will say the amount of ‘wow you look great’ or ‘you look beautiful’ even on the days I try to most, have pretty much vanished and have ceased to exist. The only time I do ‘read’ them is when it’s online and ‘surprise’ i look thinner due to a camera angle.
The lack of words at me has always been louder to me than the words spoken.
To be honest, awhile back I had covid, and being vaccinated helped holy moly a ton. My symptoms were super mild but what it did do, was make me not very hungry. When I say I LEANED IN on this symptom, I did. I mean, I wasn’t hungry, I did get nauseous when I ate, but I secretly loved it. After two weeks I lost 11 pounds. I was happy about it. But I also drew my own red flag. I watched myself think about every morning and the weight I could be if I didn’t eat the night before. I watched myself effortlessly fall into the habit of not eating and being proud I didn’t. I watched people react positively when I told them I had been losing weight due to covid. mind. blowing.
I drew my own red flag and made myself eat.
I heard on an NPR podcast today this idea of redefining the BMI scale and putting out advertisements that discuss healthy eating and movement without seeing weight as the end all be all bench marker of health. Doctors are finally being told to listen to their patients, make the bench marker of health be more revolved around vitals, blood pressure and cholesterol, and hell, if weight is a side effect of that than great! But if its not, its not the end goal. Some people larger than me can do yoga better than me. Some people smaller than me have clogged arteries and terrible blood pressure. Weight is not health. weight is not health. weight is not health.
I dont know who you are, but you are beautiful. You are strong, you are successful. Whether that be because you stayed at home and raised 2 kids [or are now], you built a business, you transformed your body, you stopped starving yourself, or you made time in this life to cherish you and not others labels of you. You are amazing.