• Ambika Dhir

A Step Towards Self Love

Self love. It's an odd concept. It's something that I think at one point in their lives, everyone has struggled with. Feeling confident in your own skin is extremely hard when as active social media users, we are constantly being inundated with the ideal body type, the instagram lifestyle and the constant pressure to be successful at a younger age. Even with the rise of movements celebrating diversity, self-love is much easier said than done. I have found that usually, I tend to dislike pictures of myself. They give me ample opportunity to compare myself to those instagram 'ideals' and it undermines any self-confidence I previously had. So was it possible that from being the subject of one shoot, I could actually gain confidence from the photos I would take away from it?

Back when I was in lovely sunny Sydney, I was asked by my friend, Jolie, to help out with a project she's working on. Jolie previously modelled and having been successful in the industry, she's had first hand experience with both the highs and the extreme lows that are unfortunately part and parcel of the current modelling world. I have never been a part of this world, and so I'm wary of commenting on something that I have not lived and thus can only sympathise with. Instead, I recommend reading Jolie's piece on her own experiences to gain more insight, which I've linked here.

Jolie's project is built upon getting people to love themselves: to forget their insecurities, to love their differences and to feel good in their own skin. So, when I was asked to do a tad bit of modelling for it, I was pretty intrigued. The end goal of the project is to create an accessible magazine which showcases real people, and celebrates them. The idea is a fashion-esque magazine where people volunteer to take part, and in doing the shoot gain that bit more confidence in themselves. The models could take the images of themselves from the shoot and say confidently that they loved every aspect of how they looked in them, because at that moment they felt completely content in their own skin.

But could this work? I have found that when I have a still image of myself, I pick out every flaw I perceive myself to have until after a while, I'm left quite disliking the photo that originally I thought was acceptable.

Often we are our own worst critics, so how likely would it be that I would gain confidence in something that usually made me more conscious?

The way the shoot worked, was that Jolie picked out a location and brought along outfits and accessories. I brought along a few extra accessories that could be played around with too. We shot a couple of different fits, all with different vibes to them. This was great as I got to dress up and try out a few styles that I normally wouldn't wear, and I found out I actually quite liked. My favourite by far, was this amazing white two piece suit from Zara. We styled it by using the blazer as a top by using a belt with gold accents, and then offsetting this with gold jewellery. The Aussie sun caused the gold jewellery to shine and the white looked stunning against the blue waters of Sydney Harbour. It was power-suiting at its finest and I felt 100% THAT bitch (thank you Lizzo).

Jolie' is not only a skilled photographer: she's an encouraging one. It's easy to feel comfortable in front of a camera when you're receiving great direction and support from the person behind it. We were having fun, enjoying being in such a picturesque location and I wasn't taking myself too seriously.

So what did I take away from this experience? I think in all honesty, Jolie's project did exactly what it set out to do: boost the subjects' confidence. It was a fun experience and I loved the actual shoot, and it's so nice to be able to look back at the pictures that came out of it and really feel great about yourself. I think this project is something we need more of in today's society: something that celebrates raw and real people of all walks of life, but also focuses on an individual's journey of self-love in a proactive way.

So by this point I bet you're keen on finding out how you could get involved! The best way would be to direct message Jolie on her instagram at @joliehw! For some thought provoking reads, head to Jolie's blog where she talks about a range of issues: from reflections on the animal tourism industry to travel reviews.


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