Self-Portrait with my Mother

I began a series of exploration within myself because I was dissatisfied with the unresolved feelings I was experiencing in regards to my own worth. I would often create work about moments I was delved into my destructive behaviour, but it became a sort of glorification, perhaps a way for the world to validate the fact that I was slipping. I spent three weeks photographing myself in various places, and like I believe many people experience, it transcended into a place where I realized I was focusing on myself in a critical way.


Every nook and cranny became personal to me, and I was afraid to share it. I came to understand this came from a harvested and unresolved issue regarding my mother’s battle with breast cancer. Through much contemplation, I realized I wanted to photograph her as a way to portray my own insecurities and myself.


When my mother was diagnosed, she had a mastectomy and struggled with feeling beautiful when chemotherapy took her hair and made her gain unwanted weight. It was like she had aged overnight, from a powerful woman who was taking care of my family, to a woman who needed to be taken care of. I, for much of my teenage life, resented the idea of losing someone I loved because it came so close to happening. I closed myself off, and slowly began to control food as a way to hold some comfort in my quite bleak outlook. I will never blame my mother for my own hardships, but I believe the two played important roles in the human being I am now. Over time, my mother and I both got better, by that I mean we were “no longer in danger of death”. I say that because illness, whether it be mental or physical, takes a toll on a lot more than just your outward appearance. When I began to photograph my mother, I found it increasingly difficult to put myself in a vulnerable position with her. It was as if so much conversation had failed to take place over so many years. At one point, when she took off her shirt and exposed her scar, I began crying. She looked at me with questioning eyes and asked why I was so emotional. I answered with this,

“Your braveness, I have never told you, but it made me get better. You are beautiful because of what you have gone through”.


I think this has transcended with ease into a place where I am coping well with things finally. I have found it difficult to muster expression and passion in a field I feel I have no voice in, and I wanted to create a body of work that was resolved. Although this is far from resolved in terms of a self-portrait, it has allowed me to touch upon a place I kept so out of reach for so long. My mother and I look each other in the eyes now with love, and a mutual respect for our battles. That is more than what I could have ever asked for. Thank you.