Body insecurities know no gender, and looking in the mirror and worrying about the reflection staring back at you isn't exclusively a woman's issue. Sam Smith's body positive Instagram post proves that, where the artist posted a shirtless photo of himself on the beach, and explained the fear and doubt that usually accompanies such a half-naked picture.
"In the past if I have ever done a photo shoot with so much as a T-shirt on, I have starved myself for weeks in advance and then picked and prodded at every picture and then normally taken the picture down," Smith shared in the caption. But yesterday he decided to push back against that knee-jerk reaction, and fight back against the need to knit-pick and belittle.
"Yesterday I decided to fight the f-ck back. Reclaim my body and stop trying to change this chest and these hips and these curves that my mum and dad made and love so unconditionally," Smith wrote. "Some may take this as narcissistic and showing off but if you knew how much courage it took to do this and the body trauma I have experienced as a kid you wouldn’t think those things."
The artist went on to thank Ryan Pfluger, an LA/NYC based queer artist and photographer who happened to take the sunset beach photo for Smith. "Thank you for helping me celebrate my body AS IT IS @ryanpfluger I have never felt safer than I did with you. I’ll always be at war with this bloody mirror but this shoot and this day was a step in the right f-cking direction."
Pfluger also posted the same photo on his own Instagram, and he used the caption to explain how photography can be therapy. "My MFA thesis was on how photography is therapy. I did a TEDx talk on how photography is therapy. I feel so lucky to have met the people I have in my career & even luckier to create meaningful connections after working with people," he shared. "@samsmith thank you for trusting me to facilitate photographs that empower your ownership of your body and mind. I honestly wish everyone relinquished themselves to the experience like you did."
A quick peek into the photographer's Instagram Stories shows that the topless beach scene wasn't the only photo the pair took. There is also a photo series where Smith is also sprawled out on a beach bench in heels, posing with attitude and confidence.
Earlier this January Smith opened up about how his body image is a constant issue, and how he had to train himself to love his body even after substantial weight loss, which many mistakenly label a "fix" for body insecurities. In an interview with V magazine, he shared his journey with body acceptance, saying, "When I was shooting my first music videos, I just wasn't happy with the way I looked, so I was trying to control the way the camera moved. I got a bit obsessive. I was constantly looking in the mirror, pinching my waist, weighing myself every day."
But since then, he has changed his relationship with the mirror. "I need to constantly train myself to watch the right sort of films, to not look at certain ads and think that's how my stomach should look," he added."It's something that I'm fighting every day."
And this beach photo shoot is a step in the right direction.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder and needs help, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237, text 741741, or chat online with a Helpline volunteer here.