Chelsea Roff: I Am Not My Insecurity — The What I Be Project

I am not my body image.

I stumbled onto Steve Rosenfield’s What I Be Project some weeks ago, when my friend Kathryn posted a photo of herself posing for the series on her Facebook page. I was inspired by the Rosenfield’s mission, “to build security through insecurities,” and captivated by the diversity of faces and expressions represented on the project’s website. According to Rosenfield,

The What I Be Project is all about honesty. In today’s society, we are told to look or act a certain way. If we differ from these “standards,” we are often judged, ridiculed, and sometimes even killed over them. I started this project in hopes to open up the lines of communication, and to help everyone accept diversity with an open mind & heart.

Basically, each participant in the project is photographed with a word or two representing something they’re insecure about written on their body. Then, below each image are the words “I am not my ______,” with the blank being a label that’s emerged from that insecurity. In Rosenfield’s words, the purpose of the project is “to spread awareness on what people go through” and to help viewers see themselves reflected in the eyes of each person photographed.

Many of the images took my breath away. The represent such a diversity of people, perspectives, and life experiences… it made me wonder what secrets, heartbreaks, and untold tales the people I pass when I walk down the street harbor within. These aren’t the kinds of statements we readily wear on our sleeve, and yet Rosenfield so poignantly managed to tease them out and into the light. The words are simple, but penetrating. I am not my body. I am not my abuse. I am not my turban. But it begs the question. Then who are you?

I encourage you to check out the website and scan through the images for yourself. I’ve included a few of my favorites below:

I am not my turban.

 I am not my abuse.

I am not my toughness.

I am not my sexuality.

All photos credit Steve Rosenfield.