They were both in wheelchairs when they met. Muscular dystrophy had weakened Margaret “Muffi” Lavigne and Chris Plum. The incurable disease had put them both in wheelchairs and in hospital. But in the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain,…
In the last several days I’ve had conversations and exchanges, in person and online, about body image, divorce, dementia, overwork, money worries and a host of other topics that reveal something about the insecurities each person was facing.
When I wrote about Colbie Caillat’s song, Try, yesterday, I was thinking about the body shaming women endure. Today I’m contemplating a lot of other things that can undermine anyone’s sense of self. So this feels like the right time to share a project I came across recently, “What I Be”.
Photographer Steve Rosenfield started the project in 2010 with the goal of sharing people’s insecurities through photographs. He would write their greatest insecurities on their faces or hands. His subjects would look straight into the camera, owning their deepest fears. Each would be asked to write 500 words about how his or her life was affected by insecurity. He writes:
Subjects are putting their insecurities out in the open, and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before. By stating “I am not my_____,” they are claiming that they do in fact struggle with these issues, but it does not define who they are as a person. They are not denying their insecurity, they are owning it. It is not aimed for people to say “You’re not fat,” or “You don’t have love handles.” It is to spread awareness on what people go through due to society’s paved roads. These are serious issues that some of us can live with, but most battle on a day to day basis.
On their own the photographs are compelling. Add the words and stories, and the project becomes an anthem to the human spirit and a call for compassion.
Steve Waylon interviewed Rosenfield for Elephant Journal. For a better understanding of What I Be and why it is so powerful, take a half hour to watch the video. Then bookmark the project site, share it with friends, and deepen your connection to the human condition.