Photography by Melissa Gidney
Describe yourself in under 100 words.
I’m silly and creative but tend to be serious and quiet with my thoughts a lot of the time. I wear my heart on my sleeve; I love big feelings. I’m grateful that being an actor gives me a place to pull it all together and use it for a greater and super fun purpose.
If you had to describe your RAW shoot in one word what would it be?
Beauty can be defined in so many ways. What is your definition of ‘beautiful’?
I often describe something or someone as beautiful when it inspires me in some way. Sometimes it’s a moment when I’m pulled out of distraction and into the present. Sunsets make me weep with awe, without fail. When something is beautiful to me, it conveys purity or goodness, fully embodied.
When do you feel most beautiful?
When I’m happy! When I’m in nature and when I’m connected to my body.
What part of aging scares you the most?
I would really miss people who I know and love that pass away before I do; I want to enjoy life with the people I love. I’m also a bit scared of possibly losing my health and my ability to be physically active.
What part of aging is the most exciting?
Adding more adventures and experiences to my life, hopefully more wisdom! Discovering more ways to make this world a better place, becoming a better me, and letting go of more of the things that don’t matter.
On average how much do you spend each month on cosmetic items such as make-up, hair cuts/colouring, waxing, clothing, nails, tanning, creams etc.
I spend about $300 – $400 per year. I keep it basic and simple.
Have you ever struggled with confidence, body image or insecurities in your life? If yes, please share your story. If you have any advice for people going through the same thing please feel free to share your thoughts here.
I definitely have, and it started early. I was bullied when I was little and brutally abused by some female schoolmates when I was in elementary school. I looked like a boy and was painfully shy. Puberty arrived early and fast, and adult men were asking me out for dates, thinking I was 18 when I was 13. It was awkward and confusing, to say the least. Looking older and feeling so shy about it, I was pretty much a loner in the junior high years. I felt ashamed of my body, like it was wrong to be so womanly at such a young age, but because I had such low self-confidence, I kind of felt like it was the only thing I had going for me. I developed anorexia. It started as a control issue and gradually became a body / food issue; I began to see how my body was changing and I soaked up all the comments because it felt like positive attention: “You’ve lost weight, you look so good!” I was one of those girls who cut photos from fashion magazines and pasted them on her bedroom walls. I was lucky that it didn’t last long.
While I was married, I had three children in just over three years. I absolutely loved being pregnant and having babies even though a couple of my pregnancies were tough and scary at times. It was amazing to be so completely in touch with my body while pregnant and giving birth. Overall, I gained a lot of weight, lost a lot of weight, gained, lost, gained… and it felt right and good. Sadly though, almost as soon as each time I had given birth, my body was somehow not good enough as it was, and I had to “improve” it once it was outside the realm of biological fulfillment. I had so many influences with this issue from both male and female perspectives. We see this a lot in magazines too, “so and so’s incredible post-baby body”. In the media, it seems like a woman’s body is public property and is celebrated while she is either carrying a life inside her or when she looks great in a bikini. It’s sad that so much focus is on the body rather than character.
Have you ever had cosmetic surgery or treatments? Please share your thoughts on this.
Yes, I have. If I had waited until more time had passed until being in the place I am now, having matured somewhat and loving myself more as I am, I’m not sure that I would have had them done. It’s so costly and not necessary. Plastic surgery has its place though; it serves a great purpose as a restorative procedure or for those who have a disfigurement of some kind and can’t otherwise live the life they want to live.
Let’s talk Photoshop. What are your thoughts on this cultural phenomenon? Yay or nay? Or is there a place for it sometimes?
Nay. Reducing wrinkles, taking off love handles, lengthening legs, narrowing a face… It’s all so unnecessary and sends out a destructive message. But yay for red-eye correction. That’s a good thing!
At your shoot we talked a bit about your evolving relationship with food and the feeling of guilt you sometimes experience after indulging in something you don’t categorize as “healthy”. I have a feeling most women have felt this exact same way at one time or another. Do you think that if appearance didn’t matter we would be a little easier on ourselves? Guilt is often associated with something bad that you’ve done. At what point did eating something become so “bad”?
Yes, I think we would be so much nicer to ourselves if appearances didn’t matter so much. When I went through a devastating divorce several years ago, my self-confidence shattered and I turned to food, working out to perfect my body and seeking comfort. Instead of the anorexia of my teen years, I made my food rigidly strict and only the very, very best. If I gave in to a craving, I would “make it up” by denying myself food. I’m happy to say that it’s pretty much a non-issue now. But like so many other women (and men!) I know, I’ve eaten poorly because of wanting comfort when feeling bad or uncomfortable. I’ve been unnecessarily strict with myself because of feeling that I had to be better than I was in that moment. It still pops up from time to time, but it doesn’t take a foothold when I’m soft with myself through the struggle. When we focus on our true value and think well of ourselves, we will be more likely to give consistently healthy lifestyles to ourselves and to our children. We would also enjoy our little gustatory indulgences without any judgments. We have amazing senses to enjoy life with and we should enjoy them!
You have two daughters on the verge of their teenage years. How do we ensure that the next generation of girls grows up with confidence and a strong sense of self when they receive so many messages telling them that they are not enough?
We have to talk to our daughters, nieces, and young friends more about their thoughts and ideas. We can and must celebrate and encourage their depth and intelligence and inventiveness. What books are you reading? What projects are you working on? What are you passionate about? We have to speak to each other, men and women, as equals in these things. We have to stop talking about how much weight we gained from eating over the holidays and how hard we have to work to get ready for beach season. We have to exemplify kindness and self-love, showing them that being kind is cool and that love is a powerful force. They need to know that their value is in their soul, and that their bodies, however they look, are beautiful just the way they are.
When you were 5 what did you want to be when you were older?
An astronaut. I hadn’t planned on becoming a working actor, but I feel incredibly lucky that I am. And I still dream about flying up into space from time to time. I love watching videos of outer space. Our insignificance in the universe is wonderful.