What My Business Has Taught Me About My Body

headshot of artist Brittany Branson

This is the type of post my Mom would KILL me if she found out I had put this out on the internet! She’s not the sort of person to get “vulnerable” on the internet. I can’t tell you what exactly compelled me to write this, but I knew I just had to. I guess the romantic in me prescribes to the idea that “if it can help just one person it will be worth it!”

But, I should really take you back a few years…

When I was a freshman in high school, I got “sick.” That’s the term I’ve been using to describe it for years. YEARS. The truth is, I did very briefly get sick, but what followed (as a result) wasn’t exactly just being “sick.” It’s taken me years to call it what it really was: an eating disorder.

It wasn’t an eating disorder in the “traditional” sense. It wasn’t anorexia, or bulimia. It was…different. I did sincerely get very sick one day on the bus to school. It ended up being a messy combination of a colon infection and the stress from having just started a brand new, very expensive private school (think Bruce Springsteen’s son frequently held the door open for us on our way to the cafeteria type of school). I worked really hard to get accepted into that school…only to find I didn’t fit in. I didn’t fit in at all.

Cue some of the worst and most stressful weeks ever. Numerous doctor appointments. The desperation to get out of that school and start at my public high school in the middle of the year. The start of YEARS of fear of taking public transportation. And, oh yea, the not wanting to eat…

Me, 2009

That’s how it all started. I very simply, very rarely ever wanted to eat. It wasn’t out of a twisted body image or low self esteem…I was just terrified of getting sick again. Every day was a monotonous routine of not eating breakfast, not eating lunch, binging on an early dinner (once I was in the privacy and safety of my own home)…only to be sick immediately after. I dropped weight, and I dropped it fast.

Tim and I, 2016
Me, 2008

It’s been a slow and steady roller coaster up ever since. With life (and weight) having been a constant shuffle since high school, I can rather confidently say I’m not quite sure what my “real” body is…and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

So, what does this all have to do with my creative business?

Well, I’m hoping now you can understand how shocked I’ve been to discover how often I myself have to be in front of the camera. That fact that I’ve paid amazing people to take my picture?! Pictures that will potentially be seen by thousands over the course of my business’ life?! It’s been rough. I work very hard to never give anyone any indication that it’s been rough (perhaps those few years in arts legislation helped). I’ll even go out of my way to beg for a good picture for the sake of my business! But, it’s been rough. I pick myself apart. I hate nearly every picture delivered to me in those beautiful galleries my amazing photographer friends have delivered me. It’s not at all them, it’s me.

So, what has this all taught me?

  1. Social media can be such a freaking scam. I know I’m only putting out the pictures of me that I WANT you all to see. So, that definitely means nearly everyone else is doing that too. I can’t let other people’s feeds and profiles get me down, because it’s most likely highly curated too.
  2. This industry glorifies non-curvy individuals way too much. From editorials only showcasing model couples, to vendors themselves only showcasing past clients with “ideal” body types. Even vendors putting pressure on fellow vendors to look a certain way, lest a professional with a “non-ideal” body come across as “not caring for themselves.” It really needs change.
  3. My body can do some freaking amazing things. These hands, just yesterday, painted one of the best 6×7 foot backdrops I’ve done so far! My legs have carried me through two half marathons and multiple 10K and 5Ks. And my booty looks really good in yoga pants (or so my husband tells me). No, I’m not at the weight I want to be. Yes, I have a long way to go before my strength and flexibility is where I would love it to be. But, until then, I’m going to celebrate what it can do/has done.

Brittany Branson is a wedding artist and live painter serving Annapolis, Maryland, Washington, DC and beyond