Home for the Holidays

Right now I’m curled up in my PJs on my mom’s couch in the house my grandma used to own. Over the past two days my roommate and I drove over 500 miles to get here - we dragged ourselves in last night wet and exhausted, LA traffic finally beaten. 

Last year my family were the last people I wanted to spend Christmas with. I’ve had a rocky relationship with them, and it’s definitely been a long road. Those of you who read my post on stigma and sexual assault may recall that my father dealt with the news of my modeling career in a way that was particularly traumatic for me. If you’ve seen my Flashes of Beauty interview you know that at the beginning of my journey as a model I struggled deeply with how my family viewed me because of it. What I wasn’t as public about was the fact that shortly after that video was published I cut all ties with my parents and didn’t speak to them for over a year.

That was a very difficult time for me. I missed my family deeply, but it gave me the space I needed to grow into a woman who was strong and confident. By the time I was ready to resume contact with them I knew who I was and what my boundaries were. I made it clear that if they wanted a relationship with me my career was a forbidden topic unless they wanted to have a conversation as equals in order to understand why I do what I do. Any further attempts to convince me that I needed to quit, however, were cause for me to end the conversation and, if repeated, the relationship. In return, I try not to speak about any aspects of what I do that make them uncomfortable, and be conscientious about what of my work life I reveal.

Even with those rules things can be difficult. Sometimes I wonder why I let them back in, and other times I wonder how I ever lasted a year without them. I love my parents deeply, quirks, faults, and all, and I’m happy that I am able to have them in my life.

But it isn’t always easy, and in the two years I’ve been back in touch with them this is the first year I’ve found myself wanting to spend the holidays with them. It took a lot of work to get here. Most of that work was on myself - I’ve finally molded myself into an emotionally healthy adult (I know, right?!), and I’m finally able to spend time with family without internalizing their issues. I can appreciate time with them without letting myself be sucked into their drama now.

The thing is, I wouldn’t have gotten here if I’d never started modeling. It might have been the catalyst for a lot of painful family encounters, but it was also the catalyst for a process of self realization and empowerment. Had I never begun on this journey I would still have an ambiguous relationship with my family, unhappy and disrespected but unsure of how to change that pattern. Short term, my family finding out that I pose nude was a painful and traumatic experience. But long term it gave me the space I needed to create the best family relationship I’ve ever had.

I have grown and healed in amazing ways throughout the past five years. Through my conversations and encounters with photographers, fans, and my fellow models I have come to recognize myself as a powerful and beautiful individual. As we wrap up 2015 this holiday season I want to let you all know how much I appreciate your support. Every time you click like, comment on a photo or a blog post, or send me an email, you remind me of what I’ve built - and why.

So thank you, and happy holidays.

About the Author

Eleanor is an accomplished traveling nude model and has been pursuing her art since 2010. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, books, and galleries, including a special event at the Louvre. To see more of Eleanor’s work you can visit her website.

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