My Skin, My Body (Part 2)
20th July 2016
Interview Curation and Featured Photography: Kat Kaye
Words and featured subject: Anette Puskas
My Skin, My Body is a project by LA-based photographer Kat Kaye that explores the notion of beauty in the absence of photoshopping and makeup. Part 1 of this series has also been published via udee.
Anette Puskas is a model, actress, producer and personal trainer in Los Angeles. I met Anette a few years back when I hired her for a photo shoot. She was working alongside someone who had never been in front of the camera and her sensitivity and kindness to him during the shoot really stuck with me. The concept of My Skin, My Body made Anette quite uncomfortable initially, but she wanted to do it anyway in spite of that which is something I really admire. There were moments during the shoot where things felt very emotional and she was very gracious in sharing that vulnerability with the camera.
Anette: I loved the concept of My Skin, My Body, but it wasn’t very long after I committed to being a model for the series that I started to imagine other people viewing my body unedited. Soon, I grew very insecure about doing the project. Fear of the ultimate rejection was going through my mind after people discover what my body and face really look like.
I spent much of my life identifying myself by the fashion jobs, potential fashion jobs, and acting roles that I had been cast in, and more so, the roles that I have been rejected for. Many years of living life like this has left me obsessed with how others view me.
In addition to acting and modeling, I started off the workforce as a personal trainer. This has been one of the most fulfilling roles in my life and continues to be. One of my greatest fears has always been that I will lose my client’s trust and it’s happened right before my eyes. I have had numerous female clients outwardly express their worry that if I train them that their thighs “will blow up” and look like mine, which I have been convinced by the industry are too muscular and oversized for my body. There have been numerous times when photographers have covered up my legs labeling them, “too big.”
“One of my greatest fears has always been that I will lose my client’s trust and it’s happened right before my eyes. I have had numerous female clients outwardly express their worry that if I train them that their thighs “will blow up” and look like mine, which I have been convinced by the industry are too muscular and oversized for my body.”
Imagining the un-touched shots of my face and body brought back moments in my life that have stuck with me forever. Like many young kids, when I was in grade school my peers bullied me. In my case, the nicknames and taunts were derived by my ‘unusual’ facial features and athletically slim frame. Skinny, as equating to beauty, is perceived to be the perfect body type for females at age 6 and at age 30. Why can’t uniqueness be considered beautiful? Why can’t the focus be on being healthy and fit?
Working with Kat was freeing. As painful as it was and as vulnerable as I felt, I knew that this was the first step in a very long process if I ever hope to be at peace with how I look. Kat reminded me to take the attention away from myself. She asked me to focus on the beautiful location I picked out and to reflect on why I chose my favorite hiking trail for our shoot. As we continued to work, I realized that it was on these trails where I have felt the most free. For a moment, I wasn’t worried about what I looked like, or who was judging me; I was able to reflect and rediscover my ultimate creative force, which led me to create my first webseries titled, The Complex. It was also these trails that allowed me to get into the best cardiovascular shape of my entire life – And the trails did not care one bit about what being in that kind of shape looked like.
Nature itself reminds me of my dear father who has always encouraged me to do what I love. During the shoot Kat encouraged me to reflect on memories of my dad. The shoot took place soon after my father’s death so when I look at some of the photos, I see some slight suggestions of grief peering though, however, I found myself coming to a place of self-acceptance. All I could hear was the shutter of the camera and the birds chirping as Kat snapped away. I was no longer the model, the trainer, the actor, the daughter, the producer, the friend. I felt like my spirit was at one with this natural world. I was no longer the girl with the disproportionate body and the strange facial features.
“I was no longer the model, the trainer, the actor, the daughter, the producer, the friend. I felt like my spirit was at one with this natural world. I was no longer the girl with the disproportionate body and the strange facial features.”
After we finished, it was only moments before I returned to my usual self. I felt insecure about my abilities. I found myself worried if I did ‘ok’ and hoping Kat was happy with my work. However, these fleeting feelings and fears brought me to my next realization. My skin and my body are only temporary in this lifetime, and no matter what form they take, there are things that are much more important to me. As one of my favorite writers Joseph Campbell says, “Follow your Bliss.” My bliss, I discovered during this experience, is that freedom lies within accepting myself. And, while I may still have a long way to go, this shoot with Kat has brought me one step closer to peace.