Melissa Faith Talev (35), Roland (6) and Miles (3)
East Coast | Photographed in Las Vegas
This is Melissa's third time participating in the project. You can view her first photo and story from Feb 2015 here and her second from April 2016 here.
Melissa shares -
"When my older son was about 2, I was showering, and he asked me why I was shaving my legs. I had no good answer for him, and so I said “the patriarchy” and he nodded and walked off. In that moment, I truly understood how much he was watching every little thing and counting on me to have all of the answers. I’d never much cared about shaving, but I did it every once in a while basically not to offend anyone. We have gotten so far from what’s biologically normal for our species that women's body hair is counter culture, even though we literally cannot stop it from growing. It would be comical if it wasn’t pathetically sad. I understood then that I am the only chance my children have to see a woman who doesn’t alter her body to suit others, doesn’t complain about it or deride it or abuse it in response to poisonous societal conditioning. I thought I was body positive before, but now I feel like it’s my sacred duty to embody it, to counter all of the harmful messaging out there that we are all constantly subjected to.
My kids love my belly, and they tell me pretty much daily how wonderful it is that it’s big and squishy and comfy for cuddling. And I intensely remember the comfort I found in the bellies of my mother and grandmother, though I knew from a very young age that if I told my grandmother I loved her big belly she would have been hurt beyond belief. It was so “horrible” that I wouldn’t have said that even if I WANTED to hurt her. So when my kids say it (unabashedly and without malice), I agree with them heartily and I let them know how happy it makes me to hear that. I have been continuously pregnant and/or nursing for almost 7 years now. 7 years of building, growing, birthing, nourishing, calming, immune boosting, and comforting and for me, that makes this body amazing beyond words.
I love being part of something that exposes both how varied our experiences can be and at the same time shows how so many common threads bind us. And we are normalizing reality instead of a manufactured image presented as normal--I wish as a child and a teen, I'd had access to something like this instead of the thousands of women's magazines I must have read, thinking that what I saw (really, what was being sold to me) in those pages was the best way to pursue what it meant to be a woman.
Life cannot exist without growth, so don't worry about who you were pr what you did in the past, and don't take too seriously who you are in the present because soon enough that will be the past as well. Everything always changes: enjoy what you can in the moment, and know that if it seems too hard, it can't last forever."