theCOURAGEOUSPROJECT

Gemma

Plump young woman sitting on waters edge at beach at sunset, looking at clouds in the sky with sun shining through.  Woman is wearing a black bikini, leaning back on her hands and her long dark brown hair is flowing down her back and arms.

I have known Gemma for a few years now, when we first met she was coming to a party I was hosting. She was kind enough to message me even though I don’t believe we’d met to ask if she could bring some nibbles. Of course I accepted! What this girl bought wasn’t just nibbles, but 2 divine grazing platters of everything you could imagine and was so incredible helpful that night.

That is the sort of girl she is, kind and caring, an incredibly generous soul who just wants to help others. Incredibly smart, warm and loads of fun.

When she said she would do this, in short notice, as one of the first, I was so grateful as I knew we would have fun and it would be powerful.

Gemma chose to do this one the beach, for body positivity.  She realised this could be a platform to share her body positivity beliefs.  I was super excited for this as there’s something special about the sun setting each day and the light it brings.

Almost black silhouette of figure with long hair, holding hands up under the sun as if the sun is sitting on them, orange and cloudy sky.
Voluptuous woman kneeling on the waters edge, back to us with black bikini and long brown hair.  Hands down by her sides, she looks into the distance at the water, sunlight reflecting off the wet sand.

Tell us a little about you, what do you enjoy, where do you live, where did you grow up?

I grew up in Stafford, West Midlands, UK until I was 12, and then my family moved to Ocean Reef, Western Australia. I have spent most of my time since in the northern suburbs of WA, except for a short time in Hobart, Tasmania. I was very lucky as a child to be spoilt with trips to Disney World, and have many happy memories and positive associations with Disney films and characters. I have always liked animals, and have a few pets of my own – a beautiful kelpie-cross named Harry, and my cats Delilah, Charlie, and Quinn.

Young woman in floral dress with green and blue colours with small pink, red and white flowers, looking at the camera with a cheeky smile and two hands on her heart, ocean and sunset behind her.

What do you feel like has held you back, what limiting beliefs in your world have stopped you?

Sadly, I experienced a lot of childhood trauma, compounded by trauma in adult-life which has created a lot of fatigue for me. As a teenager I listened to what other people thought of me far too much, and whilst this had some positive influences, it had a very negative impact on my body image. Before I fully learned to accept and love myself as I am now, I suffered with a lot of anxiety and depression about my identity. I now know that whether I am large, or small, I have to love myself now, as I am, and be kind to myself.

Note from Laine Maria: “Each Shoot I will bring a different prop, activity, as a surprise, something relevant or important to the participant that we can get creative with. I chose fairy lights because I know Gemma is playful and fun, but her face also lights up when she smiles. The unicorns were especially chosen for Gemma”.

Young woman in floral dress with green and blue colours with small pink, red and white flowers, looking at the camera with her hands up to her face holding a ball of fairy lights, looking at the camera.

What was the lowest point in your journey, at what point did you realise something had to change and what was your first step?

After my third serious emotional breakdown in adulthood, I went without work for 6 weeks, and was quite inconsolable for this time, I consulted with my doctor and psychologist and decided to reduce my work hours to better manage my mental health. I have been doing this for over a year and find it truly benefits me. I believe we aren’t all made to fit a particular mould – what works for some is not always best for everyone, so I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to be like everyone else and work full-time.

Young woman with long brown hair, red bikini standing on the waters edge at the beach, holding a string of unicorn shaped white fairy lights with bokeh effect across picture.
Young woman with long brown hair, smiling,  turning her heard to the side to look at the beach water, beach rocks and sand behind her in the distance.

What modality/form of therapy/activity has helped?

I attend psychology monthly, and had some free services provided to me by Neami Perth – recommended by my doctor due to costs of therapy. Through this counselling, I have spent a lot of time practicing mindfulness and being reflective to identify things I can change to help me function at my best.

Young woman in floral dress with green and blue colours with small pink, red and white flowers, looking at the camera side on with her hands up to her face holding a ball of fairy lights, a string of lights coming towards the camera.

If you could say a sentence to your younger self, what would you say?

If I could pass on wisdom to my younger self, it would just be that things will improve, and to be kind to yourself. Also, love yourself now, not later!

Voluptuous woman kneeling in shallow water, back to us with black bikini and long brown hair.  Arms stretched out to the sides like she is going to hug someone, sun reflecting off the water.
Young plump woman kneeling up on beach in red bikini, on hand behind head the other arm reaching up to the sky, smiling.

Do you have a song that gets you going, help puts a spring in your step?

Many Disney songs , and I have a Spotify playlist I made titled “Upbeat” that I listen to when I need a pick-me-up.

A beautiful image of blue, almost purple, beach water, orange sunset, plump young woman kneeling on the beach with red bikini, big smile, looking at the camera.
Young woman in floral dress with green and blue colours with small pink, red and white flowers, holding a ball of fairy lights infront of her, appearing to be in shock, looking off to the side of the photo.

What is your deepest fear today?

That any of my trauma incidents would happen again, or that I wouldn’t be able to manage my mental health and be unable to care for myself.

Young voluptuous woman in red bikini, standing in shallow beach water that has a white hazy motion to it.
Black and white image of a young woman with dark hair kneeling in the sand, side on, an almost shy expression on her face.

What has been the most amazing/happiest/best memory-type-thing that you’ve achieved?

There’s been so many – whilst I have had a lot of bad experiences, I am fortunate enough to have positive ones to balance them out. Paying off my car and most of my debt this past year has been pretty awesome. Realising I have such amazing ,supportive friends has been a sincere high point in hard times.

Young woman kneeling in the sand, very dark background with barely an orange reflection off the sand behind her, well lit portrait smiling with red bikini.
Young plump woman kneeling side on, on beach in red bikini, hands on her knees and fairy lights creating a sparking effect infront of the camera, woman smiling.
A silhouette of someone getting completely covered in water by the waves, water caught in motion as it comes up, fairy lights up closer to camera.

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