I had a best friend when I was young. When I say we were nearly sisters I mean we spent every holiday together, every birthday, and we certainly fought like siblings. We were both only children that were given this amazing gift- each other. I could, and would never fathom we would ever grow apart. But we did. Over the years little things built up. Jealousy when one person became closer with another friend. A fight over a boy. Then a fight over a girl. At the time I didn’t realize the impact it was having on our relationship. I took her for granted because, like any other part of my family, I assumed she would always be there. And by the time things had become irreparable, I brushed it off and thought I would be fine with out her. The truth is, now almost three years later without speaking, I miss her. I miss being the one she came to when she was nervous or worried about something. I miss going to her house and acting ridiculously because she was the only one I could completely unleash the moron out in front of. I miss having someone I felt so incredibly comfortable around that I never thought about saying the wrong thing or the right thing. I miss having the comfort of being the way around someone that you would be alone in your own home. I miss the memories that I used to look back on with love and nostolgia that now make me feel remorse and guilt.
After my dad passed last year, I looked around at my life. I examined the past, as you cant help but doing after death. I started really reflecting on my most intimate relationships over the years and particularly those with women. I began to realize that I’ve been intimidated by other women for as long as I can remember. I now know that this is many peoples experience, not just my own, but since no one talked about it as I matured, I held this belief that I was different from other women. And I held it as my own personal experience.
I’ve maneuvered over the years, finding friends that I’ve considered close. Yet I’ve seen that the common denominator in so many womens relations is typically competition. The clothing, the men, the family backgrounds and plans for the future, all of them used like tools to gain the upper hand. “If I have the best clothing, then I’m okay (I fit in). If I have a good man, a good job, a pretty home, then others will envy me (which means I’m okay).” When I was young I began to shift my interest from friends to romantic relationships to avoid this. Yet I couldnt avoid the desperate feelings of wanting a kind of closeness with women.
The truth is, we need each other. Women need to talk about their bodies, their sex life, their drives and passions, their fears and joys, their families, their insecurities and dreams. Women have the power to lift one another up, but so frequently choose not to in fear they will be neglecting themselves by doing so. But- we need to be told we are strong, and not just because we can bare children or make someone turn their head as we walk past. We need to know that we are worth having a conversation with. We need to know that our particular and unique beauty is valid and accepted. There is flattery in someone who is sexually attracted to you telling you how incredible you are, but there is power in someone doing it with no motive whatsoever.
I can’t speak for every population or demographic, nor is that my intention. I speak as a woman who now knows I am not the only one who has felt the way I have felt. I believed I was alone for so long and today I know I am not, and I want others to know that they are not. There are plenty of women, plenty of humans, that are yearning for authentic connections with one another. Take the risk, be yourself, and show it to the ones around you. Notice each other, encourage each other, comment on the beauty you see- it reaches so much further than the person you tell. It begins a chain reaction. Do not let your insecurities and false beliefs keep you inside yourself.
These photographs are an attempt to capture the gentle strength women carry when they come together and embrace one another’s beauty, instead of fearing it. I decided to dress the women involved in soft tones, with a pop of color on the eyes to emphasize our gentle yet bright demeanor. The posing you’ll find is either strength based or relaxed and comfortable to shed light on how powerful human connection can be.
Thank you for reading.
Concept/Directing/Styling- Lena Jackson
Photographers- Crimeandkindless.co & Chris Adam Taylor
Models- Lena Jackson, Karina Favela, Anna Michaela & Amanda Weinper
MUA’s- Gabriel Soto (Anna & Amanda) & Adrianna Jaramillo (Lena & Karina)
Clothing- Rawson (Chicago based)
BTS Captures/Assistance- Dylan Strcic