Life on the Line

There is a line between the stark contrasts of black and white, the infinitesimal gray space of uncertainty. I’ve lived on that line for most of my life. Time and time again I find myself questioning my identity, my labels. Labels that society tells us we need. I am too disabled to be “normal,” but I can walk, I can speak, and I have the agency to make my own decisions.

I was diagnosed with Marfan’s Sydrome, a connective tissue disorder, as a child. I rejected the diagnosis for years, believing through my own internalized ableism that I was somehow lesser because my body was deficient. At eighteen I was finally forced to reconcile with my disabilities after two intra-ocular surgeries left me with a severe visual impairment. Coming to terms with my own body has been a difficult experience, and over the past several years I have needed to work through depression and anxiety in addition to my physical problems.

Life on the Line explores my body in intricate detail. Inspired by the works of artists like Francesca Woodman and Robert Mapplethorpe, I decided that I would not be able to accept my body until I felt truly comfortable with it. Because Marfan’s Syndrome is a largely invisible disease, photographing it presented me with a unique challenge: the documentation of something that cannot be seen.

Lines are everywhere, physically and metaphorically. In a very literal sense, the lines in my bifocal glasses bisect everything that I see. The stretchmarks on my torso and thighs are constant visual reminders that my body is different. Other lines are more difficult to see unless you know where to look. Society constantly labels us according to our identifiers, and by proxy we begin to label ourselves. The stigmas of disability, of mental illness, of medications follow me wherever I go. This project is, for me, an exercise in self-forgiveness.