Katy Copeland | Your Body Should Be Your Greatest Lover | Passion Projects | Portraits of Women | Dancers | Apollo Fields Wedding Photography | Long Island, NY
Guest blog by Katy Copeland
Photography by Apollo Fields
My body and I used to have a tumultuous relationship. I would judge her and put her down and bully her for not being “correct” and pump her with drugs and alcohol to numb the insecurities and pain. Dancers develop some pretty severe psychoses. You bend and twist and starve and gorge and try to fit molds that are impossible and distorted and therefore wind up living in constant battles of not feeling worthy. At least, this was my experience. My body and I went to war. I disrespected her, treated her like shit, beat her down and was completely shocked that she wasn’t responding with my backwards and materialistic idea of beauty.
I met Heather during this time. About 5 years ago at a very delicate time when I self-proclaimed myself a feminist and was still wildly threatened by strong, powerful women . Cool… Having recently shaved my head for a performance gig, small parts of me felt liberated, larger parts unsuccessfully were hiding an immense amount of fear and self loathing. I became jealous of her instantly. Heather is confident without boasting. She is beautiful with zero effort. She is smart but not a know-it-all. She exudes grace with no judgement and she is vulgar yet still tasteful. How is that possible? My inner dialogue: “Fuck. I hate her. I want to be her.” It was madening.
Never did I imagine she would lift me up in times I needed most. Very quickly Heather became my family, my kindred spirit, a precious gem who wiped my tears, held me when I started to crumble, and taught me the true meaning of female friendship. She profoundly changed the way I viewed other women, but more importantly how I viewed myself for the better. Secretly, for better or worse (mostly for worse) I would always compare us. “Us” being all women. Over time, I stopped competing and started cultivating true love with all the women I am lucky enough to know. Heather is a pioneer and champion in my story and I am forever grateful.
So when I read recently that Heather was suffering from an ectopic pregnancy with severe complications my heart shattered. My body ached for her. It was rare that I ever saw her in pain and I felt it in my bones. The female body is magical with incredible vulnerability. Therefore, when our bodies take on trauma we instantly become stronger and grow three sizes compassion, depth and complexity. Our bodies are smarter and more resilient than ever and I am just starting to figure that out.
We set a fresh pasta dinner date (for she is the queen of homemade pasta) after she was post-op and comfortably back home in Long Island. A few days before, we agreed to snap some body shots of me while I was in town. Heather asked for my vision and without hesitation I told her that I was craving photos that are raw, bare, stripped down, unabashed and unapologetic. Like most, admittedly or not, I am constantly struggling to find my authentic self. Battling my bullshit ego and trying to halt myself when I start catering to what others want to see versus what I want to be. After the experience she just had I knew if anyone could help me find authenticity and mind-body connection it would be her. We would find it in each other.
This galley is what we created. By no means am I healed, or rehabilitated. But I am growing. I am learning. I am connecting deeper every day. My body and I are beginning a new journey. And the little voices inside my head are slowly becoming less of a bully and much more of a best friend. When my inner saboteur starts poking or prodding, I kindly and respectfully ask her to shut the fuck up. I am judging less and loving more and I trust my body will always know what to do. I just have to listen.
“Your body should be your greatest lover
for she is all you have.
It wasn’t until I started loving her unconditionally
that she began to respond.” —I wrote that.
They are my favorite two sentences I have ever written. That is the idea I wanted to capture with these photos, and girl… Heather did it in spades.