Annie and Power

‘I was deeply depressed and suicidal from a young age, and though I never fully understood those feelings until I was older, I still felt their debilitating hold, the related anxieties and self loathing attached, and though I still feel it on occasion now, I can safely say that my experiences since then, my failures, mistakes and lessons learnt, that have empowered me to be the person that I am today, strengthened my resolve and my character, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.’

‘In terms of what it means to be someone who identifies as a woman, for me, I grew up with a mother who was hardly ever there, she worked all the time. I was raised quite traditionally, my mother always had a perceived image of me. She had told me often of the sacrifices she had undergone just to have me, of how, before my birth, she forwent meat for a whole year, all so that she might have a baby girl. All throughout my youth I had heard tirelessly of how I never quite met her picture image, even now, she still asks me if I’d relent and take her up on her offer of plastic surgery, (because under her belief, if I could but shed the masculine jawline that I have, I might be the perfect feminine girl that she had wished for).’

‘In retrospect, I think, given the way I was raised, part of me had learned at a young age to correlate all the traits of men with strength and prowess. I wanted to run wild with my brothers, the word ‘tomboy’ was music to my ears, I wanted independence, I didn’t want to be weak, I grew hard and spoke less, forgot how to confide in my family, became sullen and misunderstood. In my adolescence, I dressed solely in shorts and T-shirt’s, vests and ties, surrounded myself in darkness, I abhorred the colour pink. I refused to wear skirts or dresses, (much to the disdain of my mother,) I was afraid to, for fear of the perception and the connotations attached, and then later still, when I had made amends with the feminine deep within me, I began to lean the other way. Bared my body as a weapon, found thrills in stolen glances and hungry open stares, in my mistaken perception of seduction, my mother called me a whore. These two abstracts of either spectrum enthralled me, they confounded me and held me captive. I thought I knew who I was, or rather who I was trying to portray. I thought I knew was what power was. I thought I knew a lot, of course I was wrong, as so often we are at that age. It wasn’t until much later on that I realised that I was fooling myself, that I was a prisoner of my own image and my own body, that I had suppressed a whole great deal trying to be who I thought I had to be. With time, I learnt that strength came from within, from the heart, from amnesty and love, and I came to recognise that the power I held was mine alone, to do with as I pleased, and in support of this, as well as in lieu of any personal aspirations, whether occupationally or educationally, a little ways ago I made a vow to myself, regardless of cumbersome or how often I fail; to be a benefit, not a burden, to surround myself with love, that with whatever little light I held inside, I would devote it to making my life, and the lives of those around me, however bright I can, because in its heart, it’s a tangible goal which empowers me to try harder yet still.’

‘I was useless for a good deal after high school, besieged by an onslaught of depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies that my parents didn’t understand or want to, it wasn’t something they had ever known, mental illness was as foreign to them as this country was, when they first landed here.’

‘You will never stop learning, improving, you still make mistakes, it’s the very nature of life, but time and perspective can teach you to understand and forgive a lot of things. Sometimes you need to grow before you can heal, as Mary Tyler Moore once said, “you can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you”.’

‘I went through a lot of dark times in my life, and I know wholeheartedly that a lot of people out there could say the same. I have seen so many girls out in the world ruled by the walls of their own creation, and I can share in their humility, their anxiety, their want to be beloved, their fear of not fitting in, the quiet things that rule behind every single grin. And so often I’m torn between berating the confidence and self love into them, and to sharing in the pain, because realistically, no one has the answers, as human beings, our very nature fosters imperfection. And we need the hard times, it’s those times that nurture you the most, as trying as they are, they teach you strength and resilience, give you the kind of awakening and understanding that only time and experience can gather. Because you can’t rush growing up, at least nowhere near as easily and you can rush misunderstanding and misfortune.’

‘I find power in intelligence, in strength of mind and character, in mental fortitude, in openness and kindness, in forgiveness, in owning your identity and your own story, in the resolve to overcome adversity and adhering to your own values.’

‘The fact of the matter is, there is still inequality in the world, and there is still work to be done, but what warms my heart and fills me with pride is the ratio; the shifting ratio of those who want change, who will fight for it, spread their truths and raise awareness. I think there is hope for us yet. I think we’ll get there someday, hopefully sooner than later.’

// Annie's portraits were shot with a PentaxK1000 and Portra400 film. No edits.

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