Rachel has taken part in an art project called ‘This Body Project’ which is currently exhibiting in Toronto. Here is her picture and the words she has recorded to go with it. To hear the speech please click HERE
I am a woman. I am an actress. I am in the business of beautiful.
What is my relationship to my body? To be fully transparent and vulnerable, it is a constant battle of dualities.
When I saw this photo my first thought was “I look fatter than usual”. Then as quickly as those words came to mind, I also remembered that day. I didn’t feel fat at all. I had just fallen in love. I was with my inspiring friends creating something I believed in. I was in the city that I feel at home in. I had just booked a great job. I felt liberated and free. I was happy.
Growing up, my father always told me God made and gave me a beautiful body. He would then follow that up by saying that even more importantly, he gave me a beautiful spirit. These words gave me a confidence about who I was inside and out. Worthy, precious and whole. I never questioned or challenged his words until years after he passed away and I had just turned 16.
I filmed a movie on location in Nova Scotia. I had hit the point where what I’d once mindlessly ate caught up to me. I probably gained about 10lbs, but I don’t remember feeling uncomfortable or self conscious…until I returned home. I don’t even think he remembers, but my uncle made a passing comment about my weight. Like a left hook out of no where, it crushed me. But it would not be the last assault, or the worst. Now, his words didn’t not crush me nearly as much as the producers who told me I was fat. The boys who told me I was disposable. The impossible expectations of the people who didn’t matter. And the worst of them all, the moments I told myself I was unworthy of anything other than that effortless wholeness I’d once felt.
Those years started what would be a battle between two voices. Between loving my body and hating it. I became, in a sense, a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a woman of dual mind. It wasn’t more difficult growing up in Hollywood, just an added “bonus”. For a girl, the business of beautiful is everywhere.
Reflecting back on it all now, I ponder the power of words. The power they have to dictate a relationship with oneself. The ability of words to be the life blood of self love or the cancer of self loathing. The weight of a comment or phrase to shift like tectonic plates the foundations of how a woman sees herself. The words my father said to me, the words of my uncle, the words I said and say to myself.
Which brings me to this moment. I’ve lived so long in a business of exterior beauty, both in vocation and gender, that I often forget my body is only one half of what my Dad had always told me. It is only one half of what God has given me, and for sure the most temperate and fragile of the two. Each day I need to be reminded of this.
So when I look at this picture a second time, hanging on the wall as you see it, I’m hoping my first words to myself will be look at that beautiful body and the beautiful spirit the shines through. Worthy, precious and whole. Full stop.