in conversation with Kate ...
our womanhood ~ chapter IV
As part of our latest campaign, we invited our community to take part in a shoot for womanhood. As with all our images, they remain untouched.
We had a chat with Kate about what womanhood means to her and the journey she has been on.
I was a little “tom boy” kid (a very outdates 90’s term) who wouldn’t wear a dress or the colour pink and lived in a backwards denim cap. Then I got my period very young. I tried to ignore it but you can’t really do that. Then as a young teenage I started to enjoy ‘feminine’ things. It became all about flowers and pastels.
I went to a performing arts high school and was surrounded by beautiful ‘slim’ bodies. Most of my closest friends were also tall and long limed. It was in intense environment, and everyone was beautiful. I was short with an hourglass frame (both these features seemed residual curses from my early period, and that made me hate it even more.) It made me feel at once too like a child - with my five foot stature - and too womanly - with full breasts and a fleshy bum. I felt so much self-loathing because of my body. The thing I know now, when I look back with my grown-up eyes, is that no matter what their body look liked every girl in that school felt that way. I feel so much sadness for younger me, and younger all of us. I wish I could go back and stand everyone in front of those horrible dance studio mirrors and make people see only good things.
I still feel that self-loathing sometimes, and I know I’m battling with society as well as myself with this, but I don’t want to feel held back by this anymore. I don’t want to not do something because I don’t think my body looks good. As I said somedays it’s a battle, but I glad to be fighting.
I think I have always felt deeply connected to my sense of womanhood, though not always fully embracing of it. Whenever I would read or watch something that would move me deeply, I wanted to describe it as coming from the womb. Anything visceral, guttural, or that made me feel grounded, or like it was from the earth. I remember reading Tennessee Williams for the first time in high school and thinking that it made me feel more connected to the core of myself – I didn’t know what other way to describe it than ‘coming from the womb’. I had a dreamy way of talking about it all. Now this is more true - more full colour – as I have really embarrassed my womanhood. I don’t have any of the feelings of being ‘lesser than’ or thinking of feminine things as not as good as masculine, to put it somewhat clumsily. That shame is gone. I love being a woman. I think my womanhood gives me greater access to my humanity – I see more and feel more because of it.
I had a traumatic abortion two years ago. I feel uncomfortable using the word ‘traumatic’ next to the word abortion as it seems somehow un-feminist. I want to make clear I very much believe in this as a human right. It shouldn’t be a political issue, or in any way up for debate. Access to abortions should be available to all people who can get pregnant. I don’t need to share my reasons, the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy, or justify my choice. However, my experience was messy, both physically and emotionally. Everything that could have gone wrong did and I am still working to heal the wounds this experience left on my body, heart and soul. Being pregnant changed my body so quickly. I didn’t realise it all started so fast. And my body wasn’t the same after. I would look in the mirror and felt so much hatred. While this isn’t totally gone, I am actively working to change this now and being part of this campaign is a step in that journey.
My experience of being pregnant also had a positive effect on my understand of, and relationship to womanhood. I find this hard to explain but I just all of a sudden felt like I knew things, like really deeply knew them. The world was much clearer. I felt calmer and more settled, like I was connected to something far bigger than myself. It is as if I had a whole other set of veins in my body that had been lying dormant and were now heartily pumping a fresh, glorious blood through my body . More veins, more blood – blood that rich is and heavy, only it doesn’t weigh me down in a bad way. It roots me, entangles me to the earth and time in a way that is powerful. It made me feel both very of this world, all sweat and dirt and blood and tears, and very much bigger than that, like the moon.
I definitely womanhood is a journey with no final destination. I think this is a lifelong pursuit of something like peace. I do believe I am exactly where I need to be for me, however. I think as women we face so much stuff from the outside that we are constantly having to tear our way through the spikey thicket of what society and other people think we should be. Sometimes it’s ok if you get pricked by a thorn and need to stop to let the wound heal.
As it is a journey, it means that we are always in movement. I am finding a way to be comfortable with that. These days I am more in aware of what my body can do, rather than what it looks like. I want to changeling it in those ways, though I don’t always love it. I still have demons, monsters and ghost lurking in my mind of course. I am not always happy, but I am happy knowing that this is just a part of existing and that is ok. That’s a big leap for me. I have always been concerned with presenting a perfect version of things and not being able to share anything – myself or my work, until I believed it was perfectly. But today I am showing you me in this moment. The moment will move on and so too will I, both physically in the way I look and the way I think and feel. This is a good thing, it means you are still on the journey.