When I first met Alia at Shri Kali Ashram in Thailand, she was quite reserved, a bit shy and awkward, but there was a spark in her eyes that belied the intelligence that she tried to suppress.
I can tell beneath the surface, she was a quirky young woman coming into her womanhood, slowly yet steadily. She was still in her Maiden/Princess phase of her life but was reaching for her crown.
But first she needed to get passed her insecurities and build her confidence. Tap into every facet of herself so that she can see herself clearly, vividly. And not through the prism of everyone else’s glasses but her own. And not through the lens of girl who spent the majority of her life being obese, hiding behind the folds of griefs that was created from feeling like a left shoe on a right foot.
As we begin to build out the vision for this photo shoot, she began to open up about being a mixed race girl growing up in all white Washington State. She said she never connected to her African-American side because her father never exposed her to it.
That is how the idea of me wrapping her head in this colorful scarf came about. Afterwards, she peeped into the bathroom mirror at the Cookies Resort in Koh Pha-Ngan, she teared up a bit because she said, she had never felt close to her blackness.
From that point, she begin to shed the layers of the shy, awkward, not quite the right fit, mixed race girl growing up only connecting to one side of her ethnic heritage.
With every click, I watch her come alive and give birth to the woman she was destined to be. Wholly, embracing the new body she worked a year and half on creating because she did not want to die, like her grandmother, whom she nursed as she lay dying from complications due to a lifelong battle with morbid obesity.
©Photos subject to copyright laws. All photos by me.