Pain. Debilitating pain. Not easy to control, may affect your relationships, your marriage type of pain. The kind that may render you bed-ridden for a couple days, affecting your job, and your emotional stability. Endless tests, office visits, examinations, procedures, medication; as if getting our periods weren't enough!! Some women go through endometriosis pain and bleeding for days sometimes weeks at a time. The unbearable discomfort is hard to hear about, let alone-suffer from. Johanna has suffered from this pain since she started menstruating. She wants anyone and everyone to know that they are not alone and they should always seek medical attention, no matter how exhausting it may be....
- "...Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world" ref. Endometriosis.org
Johanna is a mom. A tough cookie. A boisterous personality with a great sense of humor and a keen sense of self. She is strong, a fighter. When she came in quiet, I sensed she was nervous. Her makeup and wheelie suitcase in tow, we started right away on what to wear for her shoot. She unpacked all her goodies, then her makeup. Rows of brushes and liners, lip colors, sponges, creams and powders; she is a professional, after all. A self-taught cosmetologist, and very talented hair stylist. She's been doing it since she was 12 and everyone went to her when they wanted a sleek style before an event.
We started with a soft look, and her husbands white tee. We cut the collar and stretch it out, ala FLASHDANCE. I'd like to believe that wearing her hubbys tee brings her some comfort. And, as I observe, she slowly opens up. I see her shy beauty begin to unfold. The more comfortable she gets, the more I see what she's been hiding. The mimosas helped, but she barely had a glass. We talk about life, our kids, our families, work...we both work in the medical field and pursue our creative passions on the side. Almost two hours flies by and we are down to the second look; red lips and black dress for my hand-painted backdrop in charcoal, placed so that we have backlighting coming in strong from the window behind it. It highlights her hair like a halo.
Finally, we end the session with a hug and she breaks down. I panic, immediately retracing our conversation for any slip ups or if I was too demanding! She THANKS me and hugs me again, "I haven't felt like this in so long, I feel like a woman, I feel beautiful, thank you!" I was in shock and confused. She hasn't even seen what I saw from behind the lens, aside from the few shots I showed her on the back of the camera-explaining away the "wahoos" and "ohyeas". But as she expresses all that she's been through throughout the years; the pain, the struggles, the procedures-all while taking care of her family-I was in awe of her supergirl powers! I have heard about the symptoms but never did I imagine how much it affects ones daily life. At this point, we are both in tears.
I ask her for the privilege of telling her story and she agreed. Her smile says it all; she GOT THIS! If one woman resonates from this share, even for the sake of knowing that she is not alone, then the honor is all mine! Please click the link above for any information on Endometriosis. In the meantime, here is the courageous and gorgeous Johanna!!!