'To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.' E.E. Cummings.
I love the wisdom of that quote. The picture that it paints is so accurate...it IS a fight. I often wonder how many people are consciously aware of that? I wonder how many are fighting? I wonder, how many are actually prepared for the fight?
Lizzie's salon visits are really interesting to me. Somehow at every appointment she manages to show me another side of her that I didn't see before. Like peeling back the layers of an onion, Lizzie has a depth that isn't always visible to those around her. It's funny how long it takes to realise that what is blocking the view is within our own eyes, not within her.
If we stopped at her first layer we would see a girl covered in tattoos, plugs in her ears and that determined look on her face. Add in that she works in the hospitality industry and we could easily assume the rest from there. We could summarise her as a 'party girl' who would easily take you out if you got in her way. We could summarise that she is a girl out for herself, out to prove her point and not willing to let others speak into her life. We could easily process that to be a negative thing.
We could miss really knowing Lizzie all together and in the process miss out on being inspired by her most beautiful quality....her strength.
Let's look again. Visually Lizzie is making it clear that she has a message, one she believes in strongly enough that she was willing to put it on her body. While all of her tattoos are interesting and have deep personal meanings to her I would have to say the one that intrigues me the most is on her arm 'You lack of inspiration'. Wow. Did anyone else feel the personal challenge in that statement?
If we had the knowledge that pain is actually good for us and therefore had the desire to draw closer to the things that challenge us at our core, we would see that statement as being a tool we can grow with. Instead most would see that as an insult. Why? Because it's calling us on our crap! It's highlighting that we've taken the easy path instead of drilling down to our own deeper depths. It's highlighting our human nature to follow the crowd.
How did Lizzie get to the point that that statement is an inspiration to her?
She learnt to fight. She learnt to not accept the behaviours of those around her to become her own. She learnt to use that determined streak to question everything around her and not be moved to action unless she felt peace that it was right for her.
She learnt to turn her back on the status quo.
She learnt to fight to find HER.
Am I saying that she has reached a point of perfection? That she's aced the confidence game? Ahh no, not what I'm getting at. I personally believe that perfection isn't an achievable goal. It's a TARGET we should all be aiming for, but it's a target we must be aware we can only grow closer towards but we will never actually reach. Surrendering simply to the process it takes to draw closer to the target is where our 'perfection' comes from.
What Lizzie has aced is understanding that the battle is hers and hers alone. It's with her, for her and against her only. It's something that others don't get an opinion on. It's a battle that requires her to draw on her own depths, ignoring the opinions of those around her while she figures it all out.
Lizzie has learnt to shut the noise of the world out around her and draw instead on her true self using her own imagination.
It's evident in the way she picks her hair colours. They are always all over colours. Bold.Decisive.THIS.IS.WHO.I.
I love that a woman so young has learnt not to be influenced by others. I love that she knows she has a voice and a choice and doesn't allow anything else to come into the decision.
Perhaps making a decision on a hair colour doesn't seem like that big of a deal to you. What about making a decision not to touch cigarettes, to drink or do drugs? These three temptations run rampant in the hospitality industry so Lizzie is surrounded by them on a daily basis. She stands strong against them, respecting her body to the point of barely even touching coffee. Not what you would expect from a Chef. Not what you would expect from a girl covered in tattoos.
Ask yourself where those perceived 'expectations' came from? Is it because we can so easily categorise people these days based on their looks, their jobs and their lifestyle choices? I'm not saying it's right or wrong to do that, simply pointing out that to an extent we can 'pick' people, that there are patterns to the character traits of people making similar choices. Why is that though? When we are all created so completely diverse how did it happen that that is possible? Could it be because everyone is happy to follow those around them without question thus creating 'categories' of people? Was it ever supposed to look like that?
I hope for a world where there are no categories, where people have no 'lack of inspiration' and are rather figuring out their own way regardless of those around them. Lizzie is able to do that because she built up the skill of being her, starting with the small challenges...starting with things as simple as making a decision on her hair colour. She practices standing on her own decisions over and over on the small things so that when the large tests come she's PREPARED for the fight.
When we think about people that have this fight mentality it's easy to also notice the sadness in their eyes. Well of course it's there. No one gets to the end of a battle without picking up a few battle wounds. Just like all wounds though in time they heal. In time the pain disappears. Sometimes we are even left with a scar that causes us to smile, grateful for the pain that grew us to be the person we are today.
How can we be bitter about anything that drew us closer to being who we were born to be? Why do we fear the pain of something that will heal? Why do we avoid a process that will actually in the end bring us more peace?
The beginning preparation for your own fight is answering those questions.
Nicole smashed this shoot, easily showing the dimensions of this beautiful lady. So especially proud of our nude images on this shoot where Nicole showed a girl who is comfortable in her own skin. I love how the fact that she is nude is almost an afterthought when looking at those images because initially all you can see is a girl who is comfortable with being 'her'. Such a fantastic job on capturing Lizzie's essence in an image Nicole!
Thank you Lizzie for your stubborn, 'don't mess with me', fight mentality. Thank you for inspiring myself and others to confront the battle and be comfortable with who we are, regardless of what others are doing. Thank you for reminding us that the battle isn't with man, it's within ourselves.
All For Mary - Creative Director
Take a look at all of Lizzie's images here.
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