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Hello, friends and enemies. I'm Amanda, she/her, queer, 29, clearly a Slytherin. My major interests are jazz music, 30s-40s fashion and makeup, medical history, and graveyard symbolism. I struggle with perfecting tart recipes and major depressive disorder. I'm studying to be a death doula, because I strongly believe that everyone has a right to their agency and their identity at the end of life, and in death. And if anyone needs a buddy for museum road trips, I'm all in. 

This process was harder than I thought it was going to be. While the experience of getting photographed by Braden and dressing up in fancy lingerie was nothing but positive, I struggle a hell of a lot with body image. Despite being extremely pro- body positivity, and finding people of all shapes, sizes, genders, whatever to be sexy as hell, I can never find a way to turn that gaze onto myself. To me my body is a collection of spare parts smushed together. It's a barrier that stops people from seeing me, or getting to know me and the good qualities I have. Especially not when, like the last few months, I'm at the bottom of a depression pit. 

Which is why it's probably not spurprising that when I first opened the proofs, I scrolled through briefly, closed my laptop, and went to have a long sob. 

"I'm going to drag the whole website down", I texted a friend. "All these gorgeous people, and then my mess." I couldn't see past my perceived flaws and my fresh self-injury scars. Hell, I couldn't even take the time to appreciate my rad tattoo. 

I had to put the pictures aside for a while, and I was dreading opening them back up to choose my favorites. So when I opened them again, one eye was closed and my hands were shaking. And then...I loved them. The more I looked, the more those spare parts coalesced into a fuller picture. I could see myself, confident or poised or wistful or mysterious or confrontational or happy. I caught myself thinking "I look beautiful". 

And then I cried again because, y'know, it was that kind of catharsis. 

One of the prompt questions is 'what makes me feel sexy?". I'm still not sure, but I've got a better idea now. It's probably an uphill battle, but I've got these photos as ammunition. I can look at them and see a beautiful, sexy woman. And what's more, when I look at them, I can see me. 



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