A few months ago I was asked by a friend, who is a photographer to take part in a photo shoot that would be on display at Tangled Arts Festival. It was going to be an exhibit that was very personal.
The exhibit’s concept is this: One picture, which would be in colour, would portray what the world sees. The second picture, which is in black and white, would show the “disability” side of anyone who participated. It would be called “Spina Bifida: Front to Back.”
I’m not going to lie I had to think about this for a minute. If I participated, I would be revealing a side that no one aside from some family members have seen, not even me. I’m not going to lie I had to think about this for a minute. After reading the personal story of the photographer I immediately said yes. I could not only relate to what he was saying, but how he felt as well.
The photo shoots were a lot of fun. He made me feel very comfortable. He always explained what the shot was going to be, and he asked if I was okay with that. He never made me do something I didn’t want to do. The “front” shoot was easy because it was just like I was taking an every day photo. When it came time for the “back” shoot I was a little nervous. I wasn’t nervous about posing. I was nervous about seeing my back. I had this picture in my mind what it was going to look like. It was NOTHING like I imagined. I was asked what I thought my back would look like and this is what I said, “I was nervous… about seeing my own back… something that nobody sees… out in the open. I thought my back was going to be… what’s the word… grotesque? After I saw it, I thought, that’s not bad. It is my body and that’s it.”
I was being honest but after I said it I was a little sad. I thought, “I’m proud of who I am so why do I have such a negative thought about something that’s a part of me?” Well let me tell you, I don’t have that thought anymore. We are all different. That’s what makes us unique. I also realized something else. I realized that whatever warped image you have of yourself in your head, it is NOTHING like reality. From now on, I stand by this statement: “I am who I am and if you don’t like it, then that’s your problem”.
You can see Spina Bifida: Front to Back at the Abozzo Gallery (401 Richmond St. W.) until April 26th!