A letter to my daughter.
Dearest, Dearest Indra,
You are Beloved. Created perfect. You are strong, driven, intelligent, possessing a great sense of humor, you are already speaking up for what you want and setting boundaries—I admire that. You are beyond beautiful. You have brought so much change and inspiration into my life. You are powerful! I am learning so many things from you because you are fearless. I am so happy to be your Mom and take this journey with you.
I love being part of the “Nothing but Light” project with you my nursling! I am still taking it all in, digesting it and I think that will continue to happen long after my words have been written. After the shoot I left with my perspective shifted. I was blessed to experience it with so much love, support, and you, my one and only baby girl. After the shoot I was in such a wonderful and empowered place! I did not know that when I shed my clothes that I would bare so much of my soul and story!
I was initially drawn to this project due to its rawness and the lightness of the photographer’s eye and the simple minimalistic feel of the art. The stories of the participants often encompassed feelings that contrasted those delicate images. I commiserated with them, I was drawn in feeling a sense of community and commonality. I saw a beautiful awkwardness in the act of just being human and I needed to join them by being a symbol of my truth embodied. You joined me on this adventure because you were exclusively breast feed.
Anastasia greeted us after our ride had accidentally taken us to Oakland and our 15 minute ride turned out to be about an hour. I was a bit rattled and so relieved that we were finally at the studio in a city we had both never been to before. After a short while of talking I began to feel more comfortable but I was still scared—afraid of judgment and rejection. You were very content and cheerful. My internal compass assured me that we were safe, and in a compassionate environment. This was a personal challenge for me on my road to rediscover me. I undressed you and I disrobed allow the “Nothing but Light” project to envelop us both.
I found it a bit hard at first as I was stepping into the unknown. I was shy.
You, my daughter was both participant and witness. I looked at you. You gave me strength and inspired me to be real, set boundaries, speak my truth, and be the better. You were almost four months earth side.
Months before I had been so excited and scared to meet you. I was unsure that I would know what to do with you since I had never had a girl baby before. I was afraid and wanted to protect you from the world. I was nervous to clean you because of this and it felt invasive. Having your brothers never prepared me for this. I finally called your midwife to consult with her on how to clean you properly—I did not just know. I was embarrassed to make that call.
I was out of touch with my femininity and disconnected. I thought you to be a handsome little lady. I had a hard time claiming your beauty because I had yet to claim my own. You were and are so lovely with a face very much like my own. I realized that I held some terrible feeling of shame, and ugliness about that colored my view of myself. I knew that both of these things could not be true so I chose to start mindfully making changes. We deserve more and I did not want to pass my scars down to you. You came into this world eyes wide opened which I consider an auspicious beginning.
You are force of transformation and transmutation. I have an urgent need to process and shed all of the unresolved issues and voices from my childhood. Despite all this, I feel more connected to myself and grounded than I have in years—I believe that you gave me that gift when I birthed you. I am working on myself for you and me. My dream is to circumvent you (and your brothers) needing to unlearn the things that I am now unlearning.
I was never taught to love this body! I am angry, emotional, and hurt by this. I am unlearning many things as an adult. It is not so much that I was taught self-hate but I was taught that being vain or prideful was not acceptable. And though it was okay to be beautiful, you were not encouraged to admit it or heaven forbid own it. There was no one in my family that looked like me when I was growing up. I was exotic with darker skin and features. I was frustrated with my looks and being different. When I was between 4 and 6 I remember wanting something that looked like me but at the time ethnically diverse dolls were not available yet. I hated that! It bothered me deeply.
On that day I showed up for us— myself, my children (especially you), and others that resonate with us. I was challenged to stand confidently in my skin. The skin…the olive skin that was created by parents of different races (Caucasian and Mexican) that was raised in a family that believed in racial purity. I had felt judged in that skin countless times. Derogatory remarks about Mexicans were not uncommon in my presence, and I was assured that those remarks were not aimed toward me but that did not make it hurt any less. I further internalized that it was not okay to be me and only the white parts of me were desirable.
I internalized many messages when I was younger. I learned that males were more valuable than females, being a woman was a dirty, shameful, and sinful…I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I was taught modesty in a way that further enforced that being a female should not be celebrated or flaunted. I was molested during playtime by a cousin—we were playing house. Afterward I recall wanting to tell but never had the courage to do so because I felt like I had done something wrong which caused me to feel ashamed because I had let it happen. I was no more than five at the time.
To this day I have never fully disclosed all of the details of that day.
I was devastated when I got my first period, I cried for a good part of the night and hide it for months. Traumatizing for me and fully cementing me into the world of womanhood that I did not resonate with and could not fully embrace. Furthermore, society told me I needed to be an object of beauty so, I struggled with my uniqueness, trying to ignore it to fit into a box that was acceptable and commercial. As I grew older I became aware of my size, felt self-conscience of my belly, and wanted to be more like the other girls—thinner and prettier. I was well liked. Internally, I rarely felt like I fit in and I learned to only honor and express parts of me. The rest, I hid!
The media affected me though I may not have been so aware of it at the time. It was challenging to be in an adversely patriarchal over sexualized world and that was very much colored by a rather prudish puritanical view.
Nudity is taboo. The human body has become perverse by a culture of mixed messages of how imperfect our bodies are and what we should do to be deemed acceptable. The human body has taken on a rather lurid, twisted view rather than be embraced for its natural wonder. I was filled with turmoil and felt not okay to be me. I was very confused and still am to some degree as I am defining the truth of me now.
(The day of the shoot.) Brave day of shedding layers…literally being in my skin, and nothing but my skin. Holding space and being vulnerable with you in my arms. My sweet, gentle you, you are new and fresh…untainted by the world. You love the skin. You are very much in touch with your desires and wants. Though you cannot speak yet you are very verbal about your needs.
I both respect and admire that! You are both a teacher, muse, and catalyst to deal with my various traumas. We are jointly there for each other, each nurturing other in differing facets. I am not sure if I was holding you or if you were holding me in and through this step of the journey. The art studio served as a backdrop as we were bare for a camera. I was answering a call to my soul to reintegrate into my postpartum life as role model and Mother renewed.
None of I felt encouraged. I can own my being, face, and body! I have begun to love its impermanence though I may not like all of it, I have gratitude and appreciation for it now. I am pretty happy to undergo the transformation I am currently in. Anastasia helped me to reframe my thoughts. My physic is a record of history—my history. This body is a map of my life and now it is in a new place of postpartum. I have created, harbored, nourished, and birthed four precious babies with it.
At the end of the shot I got comfortable. I cracked open, played with you asI would in our household and opened my heart to the outside world. I have unjustly and drastically edited down my public interactions with you and my other loved ones so that they would not be seen as over the top. I have been way too concerned with being appropriate. I am no longer going to worry if my affection and love for you and my other loved ones will be misconstrued. I am Crystal, woman, mother, wife, goddess, beauty, and humanness embodied. I am parting ways with conformity and finding me in the vessel that houses my soul.
Society is in need of change. I have started a movement for us (woman kind) to reclaim ourselves through dialogue and documenting postpartum. We must speak out about our experiences. I have often felt alone and not enough many times over as a mother. Many times I have not seen the beauty in the chaos and now I am choosing to celebrate and love it as it is and love me for all I am. I am releasing, healing, transitioning, and embracing it all—the fantastic and magical ones, as well as the trying and less desirable ones. These curves, bumps, and dimples are a mark of now, I need to gain every ounce to come to a tilting point to deprogram and stop that society seeing it as ugly. I accept my body in its infinite wisdom, transitions, and transformations yet I do not always like them in a graceful manor. I am on a mission to take ownership of this body and love it fully so that I can set a healthy precedent for you. This is part of your legacy. I assure you my daughter, that all of you is wondrous, unique, and special.
Your culture is rich and varied. It only enriches and enhances who you are. You can choose your labels or to not be labeled. Remember that you define you! Life is gray rather than black or white. You can adopt all that feels right for you. Never be ashamed or embarrassed of who you are—embrace it! Do not hide. Be unapologetically you. Never ask for permission to be you. There is no need to be anyone but you. Stay fully, unedited, unfiltered, and truthful to yourself. Do not waver or fear not being accepted. The right people will be drawn to you. Shine in a world that often dims your brightness. Be a light in the world. Show compassion for others, let go for things that do not serve your best and highest good. Ask questions, lots of them and forge ahead on your own path!
You are always, always loved!