Thank You For Playing With Me
The expectation of being skinny as the standard is relentless in Asian beauty culture. I’ve experienced the stress of this since a very young age. I was always trying different ways to lose weight in order to conform. I remember one time when I was in junior high, I asked my little sister to be in front of the mirror with me and almost like a mantra we kept repeating “I want to be thin, I want to be tall, I want to be thin, I want to be tall...”
What it did to me physically and especially psychologically is horrible. I was never confident with myself and thought myself not worthy of being liked because I wasn’t skinny.
After living in Australia and later on in the UK, I viewed my body from a different perspective. Although the idea “I am fat” is already deeply rooted in my mind, I do feel more at ease with myself being in Western culture. Not necessarily because as I’m smaller here, but because of an environment which encourages you to be yourself.
I was thinking about this body image topic again recently and I came across Enam’s Instagram profile. I was taken by her confidence and charisma. Suddenly it clicked, I’m a fashion photographer, I create images, images don’t create me.
I met up with Enam to propose a photoshoot. She invited her friend Vanessa on board. I decided not to have any other stylists, hair and makeup artists as I usually do when I’m on a shoot. I want them to show their most comfortable selves with their own style.
Throughout the whole shoot the dynamic between E and V was so beautiful and warm.
When we wrapped up the shoot, I was overwhelmed with contentedness, so I said to them, “Thank you for playing with me.”
That was literally how I felt, like I was playing with my little sister, when we didn’t need to be responsible for answering to anybody but ourselves.
I produced a little book from this project to show at Neo Hua Ten Exhibition.
This is an on-going series and hopefully the book will be available to the general public some time soon.
Shot on 35mm
With Enam Asiama and Vanessa Rusell
2019 Creative Review Photography Annual - Honourable Mention
It's Nice That
British Journal of Photography
Neo Hua Ren, The Crypt Gallery, 2019