My name is Karianne Munstedt and I am a portrait photographer for women. I am starting a new series where I’m sharing my stories. It all stemmed from this quote by Iyanla Vanzant: “It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and you give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.”
I’ve always thought that my stories are insignificant; like actually no one really cared about my stories. I’ve found that that was really inaccurate thinking that I wasn’t important enough to share my own stories. I posted a picture of myself with my photography mentor, Sue Bryce I met her about four years ago and right now I’m working through a program with her, it’s called Transformation. And in it we are transforming an area of our life and through that all lots of stories have come up for.
And I know that the way for me to heal from those stories is by sharing them. I know that the way for others to heal, for others to be inspired and empowered to share their own stories is also through me sharing mine. Some stories will be easier, lighthearted. Sometimes we’ll get into heavier topics: I have sexual abuse in my past, I have domestic abuse in my past, I have an eating disorder, I have a whole lot of things and I’ve had a lot of shame, embarrassment, and stigma around those things for a really long time.
I’ve had a lot of shame around those things for most of my life and I want to let it go. And I know that by sharing my stories, I’m going to release that shame and I’m going to inspire other people as well to, to share theirs as well. Sharing stories also is a little bit scary; of not knowing how people are going to respond and feeling like people might criticize you. But what I fear even more is not healing from my past.
I wanted to share one story with everyone here today. About four years ago, I came across a photographer named Sue Bryce. I signed up for a workshop with her and at the end of the workshop, I also did a portrait session with her. I was so scared going into that portrait session and I had so much anxiety. Those negative voices in my head started coming up, saying “Kari, you’re too fat to be photographed.” They said, Kari, the photographer doesn’t want to photograph you.” They said, “Kari, you’re not worthy of existing in photos.”
I believed those voices for a really long time. But even with fear and anxiety, I went into that portrait session. AND I ACTUALLY HAD FUN! Imagine that! I actually left that session that day with my head held a little bit higher. When I got those pictures back I saw the real authentic Kari looking back at me: not the outer Kari that I was so worried about for so long, but the Kari on the inside in my soul.
That moment also changed my life forever. I found a confidence that I had been lacking. I had pictures of myself that I LOVED and that I wanted to share with everyone. And I knew in that moment that that is what I wanted to do for other women. I wanted to photograph women and give them that same experience and have them feel that same confidence that I felt by having my pictures taken.
We can do this together, share our stories together, and heal together.