• Mathura Hawley

selfie

Updated: Aug 1, 2021


So this past year, in that final blow of being told the deepest, most painful lie of my life, that I was of great value, I began to photograph what I had always thought of as my ugly, disgusting, unlovable self. "

Sometimes I feel the silent disapproval of people in my life who judge the number of shots of myself I post on Instagram as excessive or narcissistic. They don’t understand. When you are sexually abused as a child, you have a lifetime of self hatred ahead of you. Good luck trying to get around it. It would be like removing the red from your blood, especially if you had parents who didn’t like to deal with anything upsetting or didn’t suspect the hundred pounds you gained at puberty to be an indication something was terribly wrong. My friends who judge didn’t see me strapped to a surgical table for six hours while a medical team cut off buckets of skin from around my middle, leaving a 33 inch scar to remind me of how my subconscious once buried my sexuality in hope that no one would touch me and hurt me ever again. How that abuse taught me that touch, sex and pain were all wrapped together in one tangled package, and that I would wander through that darkness in my gay life to endure a brutal rape and beating and the inability to receive love of any kind, especially my own. Maybe my friends don’t accept that 17 weeks after a wedding I waited my entire adult life to have, my husband, who promised to be my biggest protector, began dating and left me broken, disillusioned and hopeless. So this past year, in that final blow of being told the deepest, most painful lie of my life, that I was of great value, I began to photograph what I had always thought of as my ugly, disgusting, unlovable self. It made me look at myself, trying each time to find my best angle, examine the shape of my pointy nose, my eyes that are too close together, my aging lines and bald head. Shot after shot I posted to expose myself. At first it took me forever to post anything, taking fifty shots in order to find one I could filter to look acceptable. Then it got easier. I took fewer and liked more. I barely filtered. Sometimes I posted just one shot quickly before I could judge it. I slowly began to accept myself, even going shirtless in some, up until now, my worst nightmare, to have anyone see what I looked like uncovered. When I look back over the pictures I posted from this year, I see the pain and fear in my expression, my insecurity and loneliness, documented for me to remember this experience, literally through my own eyes. But there I am in all kinds of light and from all angles. And it did something for me that books and therapy couldn’t do. I don’t hate the way I look anymore….even as I sit here alone in my big apartment, rejected by my greatest love. So feel free to look, or like, or even unfollow me. For the first time in my life, at my lowest moment, I may not yet love myself, but I like my selfie. It’s a start.


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