in conversation with Marisa
our womanhood ~ chapter II
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 Marisa about what womanhood means to her and the journey she has been on.
"My relationship with myself changes with the wind. Like most, I have struggled (and sometimes still do) with the idea of taking up space, both physically and socially. When I was younger I tried to shrink into a version of myself I thought would be more palatable and ended up extremely underweight and depressed. Now I’m at my largest and loudest - covered in tattoos and finally trying to regain control over my body.
I’m still not where I want to be - 100% comfortable with every facet of my appearance - but who is? It is so difficult not to compare yourself to others in our almost voyeuristic society. That’s why representation is so important. We should all be able to see people in the mainstream who look like us, with lumps and bumps, rolls and bones, and scars and hair.
I spent a lot of time on the internet, from my late childhood right throughout my teens. I completely bought into the toxic blogging culture that allows disordered eating and mental illness to be amplified. While these spaces can be a great place for people to seek out support and kinship, more often than not they are a breeding ground for harassment, negativity and perpetuating dangerous behaviours. Now I know there is often a massive disconnect between reality and what is portrayed online, when people are masked by screens and armoured with keyboards! Sometimes you just need to take a break in order to ground yourself in reality.
I have the Haitian Creole expression “nou led, nou la” tattooed above my chest. It means “we are ugly, (but) we are here”. It is a testament to the struggles of black women right across the diaspora and their survival, no matter the obstacles. It is a testament to the fact that we are alive, against all the odds. When I see it, I remember that as a black woman I may sometimes be ill-favoured, but I continue to live through my struggles. Ultimately, struggle and womanhood are intertwined.
I feel as if the concept of womanhood is subjective, or rather, on a spectrum. It takes on different forms for everyone. I often battle with the thought of expressing femininity as clinging on to a gender binary that shouldn’t exist. In my youth, presenting more femme seemed like something that was imposed upon and expected of me. It made me uncomfortable to think that a "girly", unwelcomely sexualised image of myself could be projected to the world. Today, I'm at ease knowing that how you present doesn't necessarily correlate with how you identify. My body and image are mine to own and mine alone. However, people choose to see me is on them, and it ain't my business!"
Marisa wears Dora Larsen