“I’ve never considered myself to be a ‘beautiful person’, I’ve always thought I was distinctly average and a bit gangly, lanky and generally ugly. Growing up I was always the tallest, often taller than the boys. I was a complete tomboy,wanting to wear boxer shorts and have my hair cut very short, loving it when people mistook me for a boy! I got teased because of this, I was always flat chested and my hair was often a mess. I didn’t love myself, I didn’t even like myself. A lot of stuff happened whilst I was growing up that made me feel ugly, unfeminine, used, battered and downtrodden. I guess I just kinda got used to it. Home life wasn’t great, I felt like other people ‘tolerated’ me. I didn’t feel like I was important or valued at all. When I got to about 15 I felt vulnerable and used to hide behind a mask, I’d just constantly get stoned or drunk to mask what I was really thinking and feeling.
At 16 a man took advantage of me, this shocked me massively. I wasn’t pretty, or girly, or feminine so why did he want me? It scared me and from then on I just gave myself to people, scared that they’d just do what he had done and take it if I didn’t offer it up.
I hated every inch of my body, I didn’t like the outside and I certainly didn’t like the inside. I felt repulsed by my reflection. As I got older I got used to these feelings and became good at hiding them behind my smoke screen. I had a miscarriage in 2010 and this furthered my plunge into hating my body and thinking it was useless. I was diagnosed with a condition called cyclothymia shortly after this, the diagnosis helped me to make sense of some of the feelings I had and I started to be able to rebuild myself. I threw myself into music, I was good at that and people started to notice me for being who I was.” Lucy Joy and Isaac
I fell pregnant with my son, his father wasn’t interested and asked me to abort. My view on my body pretty much changed then and there. How dare someone suggest that I stop my body doing the most amazing thing it could do? My body was carrying my son. It was growing a life! It was amazing!
My son has changed my perception of myself completely since before he was even born, he’s made me realise that I am beautiful, I am feminine. This body not only can produce him, the most amazing and wonderful person I’ve ever known, it can support him, nurture him, help him grow and make him well! It can even cure a bumped knee, a tumble out of bed, a poorly tummy and all sorts of other things that breastfeeding seems to sort in an instant! I am a single mother, out of choice more than anything. I believe it is better to be alone than in the wrong kind of relationship. I had a relationship which started to become abusive and I realised that I did not want my son to grow up with a bad role model. For now I am his mum and his dad and I am proud of that. I have become stronger and more at peace with myself than ever before since I started this motherhood journey. I am all my son needs. I would like him to grow up to be a strong man who is unselfish and caring, a man who will respect other people and love others how they should be loved. We are a family of two and it’d take an extra special, amazing, fantastic and fabulous person to change that!” Lucy Joy and Isaac
-Leticia Valverdes is an ABBP Photographer based in Brazil & London. To see her work Birth Marks Project visit: www.LeticiaValverdes.com
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