I’ve come to realise lately that…

Artist Blog by Jocelyn Allen

‘I’ve come to realise lately that all we have in life is our mind and bodies, well we might not even have them it may all be some crazy dream we’re living… But I feel a lot of the time that my mind and body aren’t connected and that my body is just a shell for my mind. I have more control over changing as a person with my mind than changing over my body. Yes I can exercise and eat differently to control my weight which in turn may alter my features, but I don’t have the power to make myself taller or my nose smaller (for example) without the aid of other sources such as surgery.

So why bother loathing the bodies that encase our actual being? It just seems like a needless waste of energy… I don’t really see anyone as ugly, I don’t even find anyone incredibly attractive anymore. Yes there may be some who inhabit more aesthetically pleasing shells which make them nicer to look at but I’ve found those that do tend to let their shells do all the work and concentrate less on their personalities perhaps? At the end of the day I find it more satisfying being told I am interesting compared to being told I’m pretty or beautiful or whatever.’

– 16th December 2008

In 2012 I somehow kept coming across articles by women who were in their 50s, 60s or older and were writing about learning to love themselves and their bodies later in life. For years, like a lot of people, I had been unhappy with myself and wrote things like the above at the age of 20 to try to convince myself (for the 100th+ time) that I shouldn’t care what others think about me. It’s like the advice you give to your friends but never take for yourself and you go round in circles.

I initially began a project as I had started to get a repetitive strain injury from a new office job that I had. People were always mistaking me for being younger, and I knew I looked young but my body was starting to show signs of aging. I was working with this idea in mind but the project went into something else and so I thought that I should try to use photography more to accept myself and move in a positive direction. I decided to sit in front of the camera whenever I felt like I had something to vent or even if I was surprisingly empty of emotions.

The end of the year for me was a natural end to the project as I would be starting a Masters in Photography at the London College of Communication in January 2013 and my Christmas break provided time to edit the work.

I found that I had enjoyed the process of making the series, Your Mind & Body Is All That You’ve Got, and so whilst working a lot on video at university in my first year I decided to make a part II to the work.

It was different in ways, but mainly for deciding to include diary entries from my teens. I wrote a diary everyday for around 5 years and then sporadically for another 2 (mainly because I was worried about housemates finding it), until I started to really get into self-portraiture. I chose to use diary entries from 2003 that give some hints as to why I might have had low self-esteem from talking about having small breasts to not being able to get a boyfriend to (like above) talking about having a personality over looks. I rewrote the entries as scans didn’t show up well, so that I could remove names easily and for aesthetic reasons.

I also made a video with the same title (Your Mind & Body Is All That You’ve Got) for a two person show at Photofusion, London in 2012. As I had been working with video more at university I wanted to make a video piece that again hinted at why my self-esteem was how it was. Listening to it now it makes me cringe a lot, but I think it was something I needed to do and having people react positively to it counted for something. I suppose it also gave me the ‘courage’ to include diary entries for part II.

Looking back the elements of Your Mind & Body… were a good build up to making Covering The Carpet.

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