My experience in this world as a woman has taught me how to respect and love other women, something I wish were more innate for all of us.
Yesterday, I had a photoshoot with a wonderful family. In order to get it done I asked one of my best friends, Midori, to help me and be my assistant. She arrived, coffees in hand and watched all of our bags as we galavanted around to catch the joy of this family. Afterwards, I asked to take pictures of her. Below are the photos I took while we were there.
Probably similar to most photographers, I tend to almost blackout while on a shoot. I'm able to think of nothing else besides what I am trying to create, so most of my thoughts surrounding the art comes afterward in the editing process. As I was downloading the photos I took of Midori, I was struck by how strong and happy she looked. I started to think about our friendship, that has lasted for years now, and found a common theme: outright support. We have always supported one another, no questions asked. In fact, there have been many moments in our lives when we have been in competing roles: yet I have never felt competitive and I know she hasn't either. When I ask her to be there for me, even if it's taking a bus to help out on a shoot when I need it, she is always there.
I began to think of all of my female friends, of the women I am lucky to have surrounding me. And I realized something. Women in our society are pitted against one another constantly. We are told to compete for attention, but that our most level playing field is woman vs woman, rather than woman vs man. Often we find ourselves emanating a kind of inward pointing sexism, where we laugh at one another's mistakes or strive to be better than the woman next to us. I have done this. I have alienated my fellow women, I have laughed at other girls, I have put down when I should have been building up. But, in this past year that has changed. I have felt the encouragement that these women give me and have returned it, not just to those I consider my close friends, but to all women. And not only is it empowering, it is cleansing and it is pure.
The past week in this country has caused a lot of introspection in many of us. It has caused pain in many forms, in which all are valid. It awakened within me this realization of empowerment. So, I want to write a love letter to the women in my life who have supported me, rather than competed with me. You have taught me how to purely empower other women, rather than put them down. You have opened my eyes to how strong we can be as a unit, rather than divided within ourselves.
So to any woman reading, I just ask you to consciously ask yourself: who have you empowered today? Where does that feeling of competition sprout from? You do not lose your edge when you eradicate that competition that is rooted in nothing. In fact, you are stronger.
This is the first in an installment of portraits I hope to do of the women in my life that have always supported me regardless of anything. We, as women, have faced adversity. More is coming.