I Am is an ongoing series by Chidera Muoka, in collaboration with photographer Niyi Okeowo, aimed at showcasing unique individuals – people who are plus-size, have tribal marks, albinos or have physical scars.
The aim of the series is to capture unique people in their most vulnerable form as they share their amazing stories.
For the fourth episode, Jessica Gordon shares her story.
In the past year I have learnt a lot about self-love, I learnt if I am to truly love myself, I mustn’t allow the way ‘I think’ I look to define my personal value. – Jessica Gordon.
Speaking on Jessica, Chidera says:
To begin the I AM Series, I put out an open call on Twitter asking to feature amazing individuals. There was a lot of radio silence at first, and then a handful of people responded. Jessica (Jess) was one.
I remember her moving email titled, ‘Beautifully Created’
#Rebirth: I have never seen myself this beautiful or should I say I have never accepted how beautiful I really am. For once, I feel like this is a means to express the joy I feel, I am a huge advocate for happiness but I have never been truly happy myself.
In the past year I have learnt a lot about self-love, I learnt if I am to truly love myself, I mustn’t allow the way ‘I think’ I look to define my personal value. I learnt that if I really want love – the kind that lasts – I must first hold pride in who I am not how I think I look.
Growing up, my birthmark stigmatised me for most of my childhood. I remember one time I skipped lunch just so I could use the money to buy a new blade to cut off a classmates ear that called me ‘black ear’. I picked a fight with almost anyone whom I felt looked at me awkwardly or for too long. In high school it got a little better, I made some good friends regardless and some I wanted to be friends with didn’t think I fit, and once I could… I always used weaves and the likes to keep my ear covered up but now I’m done.
So this is me, the way I was created! No longer ashamed! #selflove #joy.
I actually couldn’t have written any of this better if I had tried. This email also had the most stunning image of someone who has gone through a lot and kept her head up through all of it. Meeting and interviewing Jess allowed me to see her in her natural element. Beautifully created, and standing as an inspiration to so many like her.
Creative Direction: Chidera Muoka (@themadamezeta)
Photography: Niyi Okeowo (@niyiokeowostudio)
Videography: Kayode Idowu (@idkayode)