THE BACK STORY

#BTF – George

March 15, 2017 , In: Behind the FACE , With: No Comments
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Model      Creative      Empowered Survivor

To domestic violence she says a resounding NO!!
Whilst embodying an organic beauty that is unmissable; to say this warrior woman is more than just a pretty face is almost a mute point.
Depression, reoccurring glandular fever, low self esteem, domestic violence and losing a beloved parent to alcohol addiction are a few of the many challenges she has faced down, all whilst maintaining a level head and an open heart
George’s story is testament to one fact; we all confront challenges in life, but it is how you face the challenges that determines how you’ll come out the other side.
With such honesty, strength and sensitivity, her journey is an inspiration.

Q: How would you describe yourself?

I find this question quite hard to answer, there are so many levels of self definition and at this point in my life the relationship and understanding I have with myself grows and changes rapidly. 
I am 24 years old and I was born in western Sydney, but I moved around a lot while growing up which resulted in me having quite a transient and adaptable nature, as well as being incredibly close with my sister and mother.

Q: What are your dreams?

I have so many, but I am quite impulsive which makes it hard to focus on a long term goal. 
I struggled with extreme depression for years as a teenager. When I hit my 20s and started feeling excited for the future and having goals again I remember feeling like that was a really big deal, because when you’re mentally unwell like that its hard to imagine next week let alone dreaming about the future. So enjoying my life and focusing my attention on things that leave me feeling fulfilled have taken priority over working towards a long term goal. 
We are lucky to live in a world where there are so many opportunities and avenues to take. 
Anything is possible, but that’s what overwhelms us, so I’m constantly trying to slow my mind down and re access what I am trying to achieve. Writing and singing have always been important creative outlets and I hope they can lead me to fulfilling places, but I’d also like to study kinesiology. 
More than any other alternative therapy it was the one that showed me how possible it is to rewire your mind and body.

Q: What struggles did you face growing up with depression and do you have any advice for other kids facing similar challenges?



It’s hard to pinpoint specific struggles because everything felt like a struggle, getting out of bed, maintaining relationships, going to work, even taking a shower – when your brain isn’t functioning in a healthy way the everyday moments can be hard enough. I think more than anything i struggled with interacting with people because my mood would swing so violently, which would of been awful and upsetting to witness. I wasn’t an easy person to be around.
I think if I were to give anybody advice it would be that you find healing in the simple things. I hated when people would tell me changing my diet would help, I felt like the idea that what I was eating could impact my mind to a noticeable degree was absurd; when really I was just ignorant. The beginning of my journey to healing started when I woke up one day and thought I can’t live like this, and I don’t want to kill myself, so my only option is to do everything I can to find a way to change it. I sought guidance from anybody who might be able to give me information, I explored kinesiology, raindrop therapy, reiki, acupuncture, sound healing as well as aromatherapy. I saw nutritionists, dietitians, neurological integration systems (NIS) specialists, psychologists. There is no quick fix when it comes to mental illness, but you do have the power to retrain your mind. It’s taken years for me to start feeling like I am beating my mental ailments – but it all started with me stepping out of my comfort zone and making the conscious choice that I was no longer going to just accept that as my life

Q: What are you passionate about?

I was born into domestic violence and experienced first hand the horrifying and destructive impact it has on people’s lives. I’ve spent this past few years in complete shock that on a national scale things were only getting worse, and I think it’s an issue that is massively unaddressed. Domestic violence education is slowly being introduced into schools, which is an amazing step forward. Because young people need to have the tools and knowledge to know what to do if they or a family member are experiencing violence at home. The stigmas attached to abuse and the fact that for many years it was a taboo subject means so many children are left feeling unable to seek help and support in situations that can be life threatening. 
We need to continue to bring these issues to light and make people who feel they have no voice or escape understand that they do.

Q: Have you ever been in a relationship where you experienced domestic violence and what advice would you give other young women in similar relationships?

Not to the extent that I saw my mum and other women go through – I have been in more than one emotionally and mentally abusive relationship, and at times I did experience rare occurrences of physical aggression – but that was more in terms of having things thrown at me/broken near me, being shoved, and threatened with clenched fists- I have never let a toxic relationship get to the point where I was being hit in the face on a consistent basis – not that less physically aggressive forms of abuse are more acceptable. 
When it comes to giving advice it’s a hard topic to sum up because it’s so complex and personal to each person experiencing the abuse. When you’ve been emotionally manipulated by somebody you care about into believing they love you, it’s so hard to walk away from or to see it clearly like someone looking from the outside can. It’s also hard to believe that you deserve/will have anybody love you in a way that’s no abusive.

Q: What are you most looking forward to this year and in life for that matter?

At this point in my time everything for me is quite open ended. My stepdad passed away at the end of last year, he was an incredible influence on my life and we were really close, so this year has been an emotional and raw time, but also a time of huge growth. For now I’m just trying to maintain a little bit of stability, which is something I’ve never had. Ive been working on some music as well as my writing and I’m looking to start doing something more substantial in both areas

Q: If you could sit down for a face to face chat with the younger you from 5 years ago, what would you say?



You’ve come so far and you can’t see it yet; but in 5 years time i promise you will be proud of yourself and the things you have experienced will make more sense when you look back. One of the hardest and most extraordinarily good things you’ve done so far is deciding you want a different existence. 
You’re naive in thinking that just because you’ve started to feel more spiritually aware of the world; everything is going to suddenly be easy. The journey to healing yourself is tumultuous, but you are on the cusp of great things. You cant imagine in your wildest dreams how insane the next few years are going to be. The answers come, so relax, stop judging yourself. 
Giving your energy to people who make you feel inadequate and your time to lovers who don’t respect you are two of the most toxic things you’ll always struggle to break away from, so trust your instincts, you’re smarter and more worthy than you believe.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you feel you have to overcome in life?

In my everyday life, my mental health is something that always has and will be a challenge for me to live with. 
After years of consciously working on my cognitive patterns I am doing a lot better, but its a constant process of acknowledging my own restricting thoughts and behaviours and seeking strategic ways to alter them. I still have periods of time where I struggle but I hope to never experience the extremes like i did when i was younger.

Q: Did becoming a model have an impact on how you felt about yourself?


For me modelling came at a time when I had a terrible relationship with my body and incredibly low self esteem. 
I had just turned 20, and I’d been trying to regain control of my physical and mental health, which had been spiraling out of control since I was a young teenager. 
I struggled with an array of health issues and had been underweight from the age of about 14 onward. I had glandular fever 3 times over the period of a few years and when I was 19 I developed quite a few food allergies, at which point my weight dropped to 39 kgs , putting my BMI below 16. 
I was exhausted and because my body was malnourished, so was my mind. 
I moved home to NSW from where I was living in Victoria and spent a few months at home with my mum where I regularly saw a doctor and a nutritionist and started researching and seeking out different alternative therapies. 
After a few months of focusing on my health I got discovered and signed, which was that last thing I expected. 
For years I’d been wearing baggy clothes and not making an effort with my appearance. I felt so far from beautiful or connected to my physical self, and it was a real challenge to change those perceptions. 
You cant hate your body and expect it to heal. 
So initially it showed me how to finally start feeling comfortable in my own skin and having a healthy relationship with my body.

Q: How does working as a model make you feel


I’ve been unsigned for around 6 months since my agency shut down, I decided I wanted to take a break and working freelance has been really refreshing after years of having little control over my work and appearance, but when I first started working in the industry it was nothing like what I’d imagined it would be. 
It is not an easy job although the finished product gives the impression that it is. 
I struggled and felt overwhelmed many times; it’s something that can really break you down if you aren’t strong minded and sure of who you are. I think for me the most valid lesson when I first started was how important staying connected to myself on a deeper level was. The industry can really morph your perception of the world, and I think that placing value in it for the wrong reasons leaves you feeling massively disconnected. At this point, I love modelling and getting to collaborate with other creative people. Working with people you feel connected to and having the opportunity to bring a piece of your personality into an image can be a really powerful means of self expression, but i think its important to creatively and emotionally express your self in as many ways as possible. Our culture places a lot of value on visual imagery and the physical world and that can cause a lot of disconnect and unhappiness.

Q: Do you consider yourself beautiful?

I’ve grown to feel beautiful and comfortable in my own skin.
I see so much beauty in the uniqueness of the world around me, and I don’t think the industries ideals of beauty always line up with that. 
When I was growing up, I hated that my ears weren’t completely symmetrical, I used to hide it all the time. 
Since then I’ve watched photographers photoshop my face and body, when an image of me looks altered to be ‘perfect’ and symmetrical I don’t think I look like me, so I find it hard to connect with, even if it is more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ on a purely visual level. 
The way I see the human body and what it represents to me has completely changed as I’ve gotten older. 
We are all individuals and we should be taught to feel at home in our bodies.

Q: You said you struggled with low self esteem in the past, I think we all can be vulnerable to times when we are challenged by declining self esteem, do you have any advice for others who are struggling with low self-esteem?

It is impossible not to have moments of low self esteem, especially for young girls who are growing up and trying to find their place in a world that is constantly told what beauty is. 
I think it’s important that we are aware of the way we speak to ourselves. Changing the type of language we use in our self talk and being kind to ourselves has a huge impact on what we think. Instead of looking at your flaws, swap it around – what do you love about yourself ? And the parts you don’t like, why don’t you like them? If you could change them, how would feel? As I mentioned earlier – for twenty years I hated my uneven ears and at points even considered plastic surgery. I feel so relieved that I never went to that extreme – because now I realise I only hated it because it didn’t line up with conventional beauty standards. Now, some photographers purposely shoot that side of my face and leave it untouched. It is so important we embrace our uniqueness.

Q: What wonderful things did a career in modelling bring into your life?

Amazing connections with creative and inspiring people , the opportunity to travel and work in beautiful places, but most importantly it helped me to find a stronger sense of self.

Q: You have an audience of over 8K followers on Instagram, what is that like? Do you have any Instagram tips for everyone?

I think for me the turning point with my Instagram – or when I actually started gaining followers, was when I started posting my poetry and writing in the captions. I think there is power in vulnerability and authenticity. It’s strange because social media in itself can be quite a superficial portrayal of our every day lives, but at this point people want to see what’s real. I’ve been lucky that I’ve managed to connect with an audience of people who are quite alike.

Photographers Notes:

Thank you George for courageously sharing your very personal story, it is an inspiration that you have tackled and over come many obstacles.
If you too are effected by issues like domestic violence, addiction, low self-esteem or mental illness in your life, there are many support agencies set up to help.
Please do not feel you are alone in your struggles and suffer in silence
Below are some links to specialised organisations eager to help …

Beyond Blue
Kids Help Line
Domestic Violence Hotline
Aalanon

To keep up with George’s inspiring journey, read her latest poetry, or make a booking enquiry for a fashion, hair or beauty campaign, feel free to follow her on instagram

 

 

Massive thanks to my wonderful team

Skin and hair prep – Desiree WiseNetwork Agency

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Nicole McCluskey

Photographer

Multi award winning beauty photographer

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