It’s June, the month for Scoliosis Awareness, and It’s our very first Woman Crush Wednesday!:D Ayesha Jones is one woman who constantly reminds us of the meaning of these words- beautiful, strong, tenacious, hopeful and love!! Her scoliosis journey is one that greatly inspires us, and we hope it inspires you too. 🙂
Ayesha Jones was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) at age 13; her mother noticed her right shoulder blade was poking out more than the left from the back. After the diagnosis was confirmed, doctors told her that she would grow up to be “a pretty girl with an ugly back” if she didn’t undergo spinal fusion surgery- an invasive procedure in which a metal rod would be placed in her back to straighten her spine. Ayesha opted not to go for the surgery. In her words,
She said: ‘When I was diagnosed with scoliosis, the doctor was quite forceful and patronising and wanted me to have the ‘spinal fusion’ surgery. But it didn’t feel right putting my body through such an invasive procedure. I was still growing and it just didn’t feel like the right time to be having spinal fusion. Also, the pain had not set in yet and my scoliosis was only a cosmetic issue for me; but the doctor told me that if I didn’t have the surgery I would be “a pretty girl with an ugly back“.
I was hurt but replied: “No, it’s not going to be ugly, it’s just going to be different“. From that point on, I was determined not to give up. After the mean comment my doctor had made, I wanted to go and prove that I could make it as a model and I wanted to try as many holistic things as I could, like exercise and therapy, to manage my condition.”
Determined not to give up and desperate to still be considered beautiful, Ayesha began practising poses which hid her curved spine.
She said: ‘I still wanted to prove the doctor wrong and I didn’t want to become the ‘pretty girl with the ugly back. I became good at hiding my scoliosis. I learnt to pose in such a way that would make the most of my asymmetrical body. Looking back at those pictures, I was actually a magician!
I began networking and started getting paid work all without a modelling agency. I was modelling in music videos with some big UK music artists and was modelling swimwear, too. It felt like I was finally sticking two fingers up to everyone who doubted me.’
And then Ayesha turned 19. She was sent for her first paid modelling shoot. She travelled miles for the shoot but was turned down because a photographer considered her back unsightly.
She said: ‘I had travelled all the way from Birmingham to London on my own for a shoot and the photographer sent me home without paying me, all because he didn’t like the look of my back.
I came to realise over time that my body is my shell and as long as it is healthy, I’m good
They liked the look of my photographs when you couldn’t see my shoulder poking out, but when they saw me in person, they were unwilling to give me a chance. It broke my heart.’
This heart-breaking rejection forced Ayesha to exit the modelling industry. She began to look inwards and she realised that her focus on looks and determination to be considered attractive was unhealthy.
‘I realised that I had placed way too much importance on my looks and finally, I could see what really mattered in life. There was no point in modelling for me. What was the point in having nice pictures of myself in which I looked nothing like how I do in reality?
I decided that I wanted to inspire people and do something meaningful with my time on this planet. Modelling didn’t give me that.’
She went to school to study photography, and is now focused on using her craft to show others that true beauty comes from within. Here is Ayesha’s message:
‘I want whatever photography work I do to show that we are all beautiful exactly the way we are. Don’t believe the adverts when they tell you that you need to change to be accepted.
‘Scoliosis made me take the focus off my body and into myself. Once I accepted that I couldn’t alter my body, I felt a lot happier in who I was. I hope I can help other scoliosis sufferers in some way.’
Ayesha published a book called “IMPerfection,” which features a series of self-portraits that document her journey with scoliosis, her struggles with her physical appearance and her feminine identity. She said creating the series and capturing the self-portraits allowed her to reclaim her body image.
“I found it was like photo therapy, looking through the album of my journey, my exercises, treatment and surgery, and thinking about what it means to be accepted by society.”
She has also turned the “IMPerfection” series into short films and a website, which also showcases photos of her journey with scoliosis alongside photos from her modelling career.
“IMPerfection looks at the relationship I have with my body and femininity and how having scoliosis became a catalyst for a huge paradigm shift,” she writes on the project’s website.
“To me, femininity is about being dynamic, hard working, intelligent, brave, humble and nurturing to self and others. It’s about having a goal and making sure you find a way to remain balanced throughout all the struggles you will go through in life.”
Although Ayesha eventually decided to have the ‘spinal fusion’ surgery at age 21, but it was because her back had become extremely painful, rather than solely for cosmetic reasons.
Ayesha has Jones has also collaborated with Scoliosis Association UK, taking photos of other individuals with scoliosis to empower them and show that a curved spine is nothing to be ashamed of.
Be sure to check Ayesha out on ayeshajones.photography.
Ayesha Jones is one woman living a life that’s way way Beyond A Curved Spine!:D and she is our #WCW
We Love Ayesha!
Credit: (Some parts of this article were gotten from huffingtonpost.ca and dailymail.co.uk)