We have very little true understanding of the many struggles in our world: hunger, poverty, abuse, and disease. It’s because we often don’t see these battles, we hear about them and read about them but we rarely witness them firsthand. We may feel saddened, when we read a blurb of some of these issues, but it isn’t long until we scroll to the next page. This is why photography is so important, it’s a unique medium that allows humans to really feel and comprehend the world around us. This is why I decided to capture the story of Alyssa Jane.

Note: Names and places have been changed due to privacy concerns.

Alyssa Jane is a young woman who’s been battling anorexia since her early teens.

Before this journey even began, Alyssa didn’t really understand anything about anorexia or bulimia. She didn’t know much about it, even when she started to watch the bathroom door for her friend, who would discharge her daily intake. Alyssa would encourage her friend to stop the absurdity, but Alyssa didn’t really understand it wasn’t that simple, until she was in the same situation.

Soon afterward Alyssa developed an obsession with her weight. She started to consume her whole life around what the body image of “flawlessness” really meant. Being consumed by the disease caused her to miss out on the average teenage life. Instead of making memories with her family and friends, she was endlessly researching unhealthy ways to lose weight; she would research every possible diet, abuse laxatives and diet pills. She would binge and purge, starve herself and over-exercise; you name it Alyssa abused it.

As time passes, Alyssa struggles more and more. No, this is not a fairy tail ending and that’s what we need to realize. That’s what these images are telling you. The struggle is still very real, and constant every day of her life. As time passes, Alyssa delves deeper and deeper into the disease and can’t find her way out. She isn’t sure if she will ever develop a balance of self-control, rational thinking is a distant ability.

Alyssa is battling an invisible disease that no one else can understand. This is why these photographs were captured, to really see the struggle and feel the emotion and the fight behind it. Photography is not only about capturing the happy moments in life; it is also about capturing some of the deepest and darkest moments in life.

For Alyssa, her disease hasn’t only affected her health and self-image. She has struggled with work, relationships, education, and love. Alyssa Thomas is currently homeless. She borrowed my clothes to use for this shoot.

This is Alyssa story. This is Alyssa’s life. You shouldn’t just take a quick glimpse and turn the page. It’s a story that you should be moved by, a story that you must grasp. A story you should take with you. This is a story that happens to far more young women than just Alyssa. The world is filled with Alyssa’s and acknowledging and understanding their plight is only the beginning of being able to reach out and help them.


 

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