When I was 14 I believed I was fat. I wore very large sweatshirts and jeans almost daily to hide the ugliness I saw in the mirror. I hated my body and didn’t know what to do with it. This awkwardness in my own skin continued throughout high school. Occasionally, I struck up the courage to try to dress nicely for a week or two, but I inevitably ended up back in the same old jeans and sweatshirts. In high school, my bulky clothing was my veil, my veil that covered and protected me.
However, these self conscious feelings were far from new to me when I was 14. My whole childhood was spent listening to my beautiful mother’s disenchantment with her own figure. This was always truly baffling to me. Despite what she thought, in my eyes she was, and had always been, beautiful. There have been many studies that have concluded that a parent’s negative body image can affect how their child sees their own body. I’m sure my mother didn’t realize that by insulting herself, I began to question what was wrong with me.
Upon arrival at art school, I was met with a sudden culture shock. So many of the women around me embraced their bodies, creating beautiful art with them. Suddenly the suburban stigma that shamed nudity was of little consequence. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines being veiled as being able to be seen or understood but not openly shown or stated. It was still my understanding that the clothing I wore every day was meant to be my veil and guard and protect me. With that understanding called into question, I was left to my own devices to make sense of the contradictions inside of my head.
My veil is my struggle, my struggle to accept that I am beautiful, that all humans are beautiful, and the fact that we exist on this earth is so beautiful that it should be embraced. "Veiled" is my hesitant celebration of life and beauty combined with the modesty and humility that I still long for.