Reshmi, it was such an honour to meet and photograph you! You have been through so much and are such a strong woman. I am so happy we have stayed in touch and can call you a friend.
Tell us your story! What made you want to take part in the Love Me True Campaign?
I like to think that my story is about overcoming challenges that life throws at you. I am sharing this hoping that it inspires or encourages someone, even if it is just one person, who may be going through a difficult time and is feeling alone and unable to move forward.
I am a solo parent. Apart from my teen daughter, I do not have any family in NZ. I am the sole person responsible for the two of us financially, physically and emotionally. I’ve dealt with my share of toxic relationships, physical and mental abuse, workplace bullying and racial discrimination. I’ve also dealt with health issues, depression and anxiety. So I know a thing or two about life’s “challenges”
My most recent challenge came in the form of a cancer diagnosis in September 2019. During treatment, I searched around for someone who had been through what I was going through in hopes they could offer some advice or encouragement but I wasn’t able to find anyone. That’s when I decided to be that person for someone else.
The Love Me True Campaign gave me the opportunity to share my story and feel like me again. Cancer took a lot from me, but it couldn't take away my reason to keep going forward. The campaign reinforced my attitude towards cancer while making me feel and look beautiful again.
What advice would you offer to other women who are considering taking part in the campaign?
I would highly recommend this to anyone who has ever felt discouraged or insecure about their body, appearance or simply just lost their self-confidence, especially to those who feel (or have been told) they are unworthy, not good enough and all the other labels that society gives us women. I urge these women to not get too wrapped up with what society says you should do, feel or look like. This experience may help you see yourself from a different perspective and give you the confidence boost that you didn't even know you needed. If you’re sitting on the fence about this, I say go for it. Take it from me you will be glad you did.
What does it mean to love yourself?
Loving myself means loving every part of ME. It means accepting my scars, the changes in my body and mind, the limitations I now have and being more vigilant about my health. I’m learning to be kinder to myself because my body has kept me alive and functioning through this life threatening experience. I celebrate the small victories and avoid being harsh to myself on the bad days. It’s about listening to my body and realising that I don’t need to be perfect to society’s standards. I can be imperfect in my own way and that’s perfectly fine with me.
How did you feel during the experience?
I was nervous and slightly worried that I’d feel fatigued and wouldn't have enough energy for the shoot. Both Jessie and Jamie were aware of my situation and were really accommodating in every way possible. The atmosphere and energy these 2 women created made me feel very comfortable, it felt like I was hanging out with 2 close friends. The shoot itself was an incredible experience, they both have such amazing, positive energy and encouraged me throughout, guiding me through poses and suggesting different looks. It was just the most fun experience!
How did this experience impact you? Have you noticed any changes in yourself, be it your self-confidence or anything else since your session?
The first thing I thought to myself when I looked in the mirror after makeup was “wow, I look beautiful.” Cancer changed the way I look and I avoided mirrors for the most part, mainly because I didn't feel or look beautiful. During the shoot Jessie would show me my photos and each time I was in shock and awe “wow, is that me? Is that really me?” I cannot begin to describe what it meant to see myself like my pre-cancer self. I had spent so long looking and feeling like a pale, bald, unwell and scared woman. This experience helped validate that underneath I was still that strong, independent woman who had gotten through so many challenges in life. I needed this experience to remind myself of that and I thank both these amazing women for helping me.
What was the best part of the experience?
Jamie’s artistry and Jessie’s skills helped me believe in myself again, helped me regain my self confidence that I had lost due to cancer. I love their energy and how they connect with you on a personal level. I didn’t feel rushed or uncomfortable in any way. I was guided through step by step, my needs were accommodated and I absolutely loved Jamie’s squeals of excitement in the background! This experience can be best described as women helping other women feel amazing about themselves.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
We women are always looking after others and quite often neglect ourselves. We don’t always realise that our true happiness comes from within, from self love, from listening to your body and following your heart. Surround yourself with positive people, be kind to yourself, ask for help if you need it and find your reason to keep going. My reason has always been my daughter.
Just as importantly, know your body, recognise the changes in you body and don’t be complacent where your health is concerned. Who knows, you could be someone else’s reason :)
Last question, would you do it again?
Without a doubt, I would absolutely do this again! I love what this campaign stands for.