“As a child, I was bullied. I wasn’t even fat — that came later, when puberty kicked in — but mean kids found other things to tease me about instead. It was a very difficult period in my life. By my teens, I was a size 18 and the bullies had found other things to do. But I still carried that terrible, shrinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong with me.
I spent my teens and early 20s wearing the cheapest, baggiest clothing I could find, ashamed of my body and certain I needed to hide it. I thought that someday, when one of my diets finally worked, I’d be “good enough” to wear normal clothes and worthy of being seen. It was a pretty miserable existence.
At 27, I discovered body positivity and my entire world changed. It was the first time anyone had ever told me that I might just be a worthy human being — even with my fat body. That I didn’t have to hate myself. That I didn’t have to dedicate my life to changing my appearance. I’m wiping away tears as I write this, because that’s how big a moment that was for me. I realized that I could be beautiful.
Have you ever heard someone say “Oh, I’d just rather be behind the camera” or something similar to get out of having their photo taken? That was me. My photography developed in part so that I never had to be in front of the lens.
When I decided to no longer think about my body negatively, I realized how sad that was. I was using my talent to hide from myself. I started deliberately seeking out the spotlight, even in small ways. I finally took those voice lessons I’d been too afraid to start. I took hundreds of selfies. I had portraits taken by a professional photographer. I pursued photography as a career after spending years believing I was “too fat” to do that.
When I started using my camera to tell the stories of fat women, I realized there were so many other people whose stories needed to be told as well. Women of color. Transgender women. Agender people. More and more and more.
Today, I run a portrait and boudoir photography studio in Seattle called Sweet Amaranth. I’m also changing the visual stories told in advertising and the media by creating the world’s largest stock image collection focused solely on minority groups. It’s called “Diverse Stock Photos” and it shares the stories of people in the LGBTQIAP+, body positive, fat acceptance, person of color (POC), and eating disorder recovery communities.
I want people to know that the body they have, right at this second, is worthy of being seen and cared for and treated like the precious vehicle for their life that it is.”