I'm a mother. I'm a model, artist, sister, friend, and the list continues. Like most women, I am not defined by a single title. I like to refer to these different parts of me as my hats...and I wear many. While my biggest hat will always be the one that says "MAMA" I wouldn't be who I am right now, writing this if that was my only one. From parenting to photo shoots, day to day life and a few memes for good measure, I'm pretty transparent on social media and here's why: sharing my truth and being unapologetically ME allows others to do the same. I share who I am because I was troubled growing up. Troubled? Yeah, I don't like that word either. It sounds like something placed upon anyone that doesn't fit the cookie cutter mould that was laid out for them. I was a good kid. On the surface everything looked perfect, but I was struggling with depression. I had low self-esteem and became a cutter. The idea of self-love was foreign to me. Love and acceptance was something I looked to others for. I reluctantly discovered that I was responsible for my own happiness. If I wanted to be saved, I was going to have to save my damn self. So the journey began...
As I became more comfortable with myself I stepped into the world of modelling. Yes the world rejection, thick skin, a little fashion, and sometimes nudity. That one. I remember seeking representation and my first response from an agency was "Thank you, Alex. But we are not crazy." Ouch. That was the first of many obstacles that would come my way, but it showed me upfront how determined I was because I kept going. I love modelling. It's an outlet and form of expression. I never liked talking about how I felt, but when I stepped in front of a camera I quickly discovered my body was a tool and I could use it to convey any message I wanted. As my following on Instagram grew, I began to use my platform to showcase my stance on positive body image and anti body shaming. In an industry that caters to the slender, I was determined to make it clear that I was just as good of a model at a size 6 than anyone at a size 2. My size doesn't take away from my experience, make me less capable, or less worthy of respect.
Speaking of respect, I was baffled at how many strangers I offended when I shared a photo of my daughter and I while I was naked. These same strangers that praised me for my confidence and beauty just one post earlier were now attacking me as I stood next to her. Why? In the prior post I was also naked. It was a black and white image from a shoot back in L.A. The image was sexy, which is what we assume is always the goal when a woman is naked. It feeds a fantasy we want to keep intact because THAT girl can be a wallpaper or a #wcw, right? I realized that when I was in my most natural state, sharing a moment with my daughter, I ruined that fantasy. Breastfeeding mothers receive similar backlash. Boobs are cool until we can no longer sexualize them. Sexy cleavage = 1000 likes. Breastfeeding selfie = WWIII. Newsflash: boobs are not for entertainment. Sure they can be, but they serve a greater purpose: TO FEED BABIES. In the words of the great Lauryn Hill, "See fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need." My followers fluctuated after that.
I'm opinionated because I'm raising her to be. I'm independent and strong because I'm raising her to be. I'm comfortable in my skin because I'm raising her to love herself despite what other (wo)men will say about it. I can't protect her from the world but I can prepare her. I apologize to her when I'm wrong because being the parent doesn't always make me right. I ask permission before taking her picture because her voice matters. I honor her choices when she doesn't want mama's cuddles because her body will always be respected. I'm not an advocate for teen pregnancy, but this is my story. And I'm extremely blessed that I became a mother when I did. Dammit Lily, the best part of me will always be you. • • • Mariela ( @mffphotography) it was a pleasure meeting you at Pride NYC. Thanks for hanging out with us + capturing us as we are. Full of unconditional love. ❤️ #keepgoing
I embrace my body around my daughter to teach her confidence. "But why post it on the internet?" I posted it to challenge your way of thinking about the female form. I posted it because maybe, just maybe, we can remove some taboo. We shield are kids from nudity but buy them toy guns or video games that promote violence. I'm creating an environment for my daughter where she can be comfortable with her skin because she sees that her mom is. After all, kids do we as we do, not as we say. I want her to see my body and how it fluctuates. She sees my boobs that are devout members of the We Lost Our Perk to Breastfeeding Club. She sees my cellulite, and if nothing else, when she's scrolling through the internet in her teens, she will know that there are more varieties than the perfectly retouched images looking back at her. Here's what I'm saying: death to the archaic ideas of what a woman is supposed to look like or how a mother is supposed to carry herself.