THE WOMANHOOD PROJECT: DIANE

Through a series of interviews and portraits WOMANHOOD explores different aspects and complex issues related to womanhood with a more intimate view.    More about the project here.

What I’ve learnt is that your body is the only vessel that will carry you from birth to death. It’s a boat created to let you travel through the seas of life. I wish to be kinder to my body, and stronger as a woman to steer it ahead.

NOM: Diane

ÂGE: 27

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I’ve lived with eczema and dry skin since my childhood, so regularly applying moisturizing lotion on my dry patches was normal while growing up. During my teens, I had to be hospitalized for one week due to a skin disease that covered half of my face, and since then I’ve been particularly affected by some of its symptoms. In recent years, my eczema has crept up on my hands, my arms, my shoulders, my neck and finally on areas of my face.

When my skin got really bad 2 years ago, it first impacted my self esteem at work. I rarely wanted to talk to anyone at the office and avoided my friends and family because the same comments were always said to me: “You look tired,” and “You look sick,” and I even got “You look like you’ve done drugs,” at some point. Although I knew it came from a place of concern, I ultimately felt unattractive as a woman and self-conscious of everyone’s judgements of how I looked.

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One day my good friend suggested I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race TV Series, and this honestly changed my life and helped me gain more confidence as a woman. I watched every episode as these men transformed into beautiful curvy women and the transformation fascinated me. If these drag queens got their confidence by applying makeup, dressing up in gorgeous gowns and exuding attitude while performing, then what was stopping me from becoming the beautiful woman I wanted to be? These men achieved feminine standards, and this made me question if make-up, heels, and sass were all included in my own idea of femininity. 

My skin is rough, it’s dry, it’s wrinkled and it probably feels like leather. I definitely don’t fit in with the pretty soft-skinned women who spend their paychecks at Sephora and have millions of followers on Instagram.

Yet I weirdly became obsessed with watching YouTube videos of makeup artists and drag queens showing their step-by-step transformations. This made me realize that even the most glamorized women we see on social media can have imperfect blotchy skin and it felt relatable to see that side of them. This step helped me talk more openly about my insecurities with my friends and  family. Plus, I got some sweet makeup tips (drag queens really know their shit!).

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Over the last year, I’ve monitored my body and learnt that certain foods will affect it (lactose, gluten, sugar and alcohol seem to flare up my symptoms). Stress is also a big factor that contributes to my eczema problem so exercising and doing yoga helps me stay relaxed. Taking care of my body by drinking more water and treating it daily with oils is something I’ve had to learn to improve the control of my skin.

What I’ve learnt is that your body is the only vessel that will carry you from birth to death. It’s a boat created to let you travel through the seas of life. I wish to be kinder to my body, and stronger as a woman to steer it ahead.

I am awed by all the women, especially women of color, who have the courage to push the boundaries of today’s societal standards and aren’t afraid of sharing their realities with the world. May it be imperfect skin, stretch marks, scars, wrinkles, pregnancy or their period; these are all natural passages we go through as women at different stages of our lives. I sincerely wish that humankind will be more mindful that these are all beautiful parts of a woman’s body.

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Project created by Sara Hini & Cassandra Cacheiro

Photography: Cassandra Cacheiro

Creative Direction: Sara Hini