I have a friend, Christina, who is an amateur photographer. Earlier this year she asked if I would do a photoshoot for her. Initially I declined. It’s already hard enough for me to see myself as anything other than fat and I didn’t need pictures confirming it.

But it got me thinking. Maybe it would be a good idea. This was a way to face this issue without the fear of rejection or other irrational social phobias that come as a package deal with anorexia. Christina already wanted to take the pictures and, if it would just be us, perhaps it would be cathartic. So I agreed to do the shoot.

In August that shoot happened. At first I was nervous – shaking, almost throwing up nervous. Christina was spectacular at calming me down though. She really was enjoying exploring my body with the camera – she was excited to do it. After a couple of hours it had gone from a frightening experience to a pretty enjoyable one. I’d honestly recommend it to anybody who knows a willing photographer.

And I even liked some of the pictures!

On the whole, it was very, very good for me. Christina and I hugged and planned to do another one later in the year.

Well, Saturday is the appointed day. I will be in St. Louis modeling for her. I thought I was less nervous this time, and I still think I am, but I think I’m more nervous than I thought I’d be. I’ve certainly been more excited than nervous building up to this week. But in the days leading up to this I’m really having to struggle to keep myself from exercising every 15 minutes. It’s this strange mix of uneasiness at the prospect of locking horns with my condition with the excitement at the possibility that, like last time, for a moment I may be alright with how I look. I cannot describe how wonderful that feeling was. It was like tasting pizza for the first time. I’m in better shape now, so I’m excited to see what Christina can do, but still…it’s my body that I’ve spent so many years hating.

But that’s life, right? Fear is what controls a substantial portion of our lives. Fear of embarassment, fear of pain, fear of hurting someone else. There will always be scary things trying to control us. Just think of where religion would be if believers were braver, such that the use of fear and/or threats of hell were ineffective tools. Fear is not only an assassin of the mind, it can snuff out a great deal of what life has to offer, replacing it with regret, without you ever being the wiser. If you want to reveal all the splendor available to your life, if you want to explore…then you have to fight fear.

It’s like my dad always said: bravery’s isn’t the absence of fear – it’s acting anyway.

Wish me luck.

PERSONAL: Sorry to disappoint you, Julian.
PERSONAL: Happy birthday, Hitch.
PERSONAL: Mid day lab pics from the wife.
It's funny how ambitions change over time.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Aliasalpha

    “it’s my body that I’ve spent so many years hating”
    Damn, sounds like we’ve got similar problems but from opposite sides. Race you to the middle!

    For the photo shoot, I’d suggest trying to do some funny ones, nothing beats fear like a good laugh.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Race is on.

  • Blenster

    I can’t say I believe in luck (and I doubt you do either) so I’ll say “Stay Strong!” instead… Have fun. Keep facing this and winning and it’ll eventually back down as you beat it into submission. I’m not saying it’ll ever go away (I’ve no idea what the future holds) but it’ll get better. :-)

  • Marty

    I’d just thank you JT for your openness about your thoughts and struggles with anorexia. This may end up sounding overly clinical (I’m a med student, things tend to get that way), but reading your posts has really given a very human and extremely understandable face to a condition I’d never really been able to get my head into. It’s really the type of communication that is needed for people to understand and accept mental illness as illness, and I’m very grateful that there are people like you sharing their experiences.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Thank you for that. Thank you so much. That is a large part of why I went public with this – to normalize the condition and to clear up misconceptions about it. *hug*

  • H.D.Lynn

    Life after college has been one big (relatively short so far) lesson in fighting fear. The Big Fear I’m dealing with is (as always) the fear of failing at actually being successful. I’m also afraid of becoming complacent, which is why I couldn’t have imagined moving home after school ended.

  • Evan P.

    Sir, you make fear regret ever having met you ;) Keep up the good work!

  • Art Vandelay

    “it’s my body that I’ve spent so many years hating”

    This reminds me of the completely kick-ass verse in Tim Minchin’s song, Not Perfect.

    This is my body
    And I live in it
    It’s 31 and 6 months old
    It’s changed a lot since it was new
    It’s done stuff it wasn’t built to do
    I often try to fill it up with wine
    And the weirdest thing about it is
    I spend so much time hating it
    But it never says a bad word about me

  • Alix

    JT in the shower – Be still my heart!

    But be strong, JT. You can do it, and on behalf of the entire godDAMN world, you are most certainly beautiful and handsome and strong. One more step forward!

    I also have to face my greatest fear soon (again). I have to be in front of a video camera for the third time this year, and this time is harder than ever because I have very little time to prepare and there’s a time limit so if I have an attack during the session, there’s no redo’s, there’s no waiting, there’s no calming down, and the person recording refuses to take my condition into consideration. I’ll just fail the assignment (and probably the class). Here’s to hoping things go well for the both of us.

  • carolw

    Those pics are great, JT. You are a very brave and handsome young man. Kudos on the dragon-slaying process!

  • Lauren Ipsum

    Those are beautiful photos.

    You are beautiful in them.

  • Emily

    So brave! Can’t wait to see more visual proof of your indomitable spirit! :) (Plus shirtless men in the shower… mmmmm…. always improves a Thursday evening, let’s be real my friends.)