Out of Print

What the Flowers Have Taught Me

by Sara Erasmo

Photographer Sara Erasmo on still life and embracing what’s true.

I t feels like cheating, taking pictures of flowers for a living. They’re as effortlessly pretty as things get. The opposite can be said about me. With my big nose, wide shoulders, and a prominent Adam’s apple. I’m not exactly the most delicate girl.

Of course that didn’t keep my parents from trying. From the moment I was born they seemed to have a quiet agenda: “Sara should wear dresses. Sara should be neat. Sara should learn to cook and clean.” I hated it. I wore my hair short, “like a boy.”. I wore my two brothers’ hand-me-downs and played basketball. “Wow, all boys tayo ngayon ah,” my Dad’s friend explained when we were out with my brothers.

By the time I was 12 the protest ended, all thanks to Lizzie McGuire, Candy magazine, reverse harem anime, and boys visiting our all-girls Catholic school. “Ah, so it’s nice to be pretty. I wish I were pretty.” And so began the Relentless Pursuit of Pretty. Throughout the years I’ve straightened my naturally thick and wavy hair (more than once, sad to say), struggled with acne, regularly endured the pain of threading my eyebrows, the list goes on.

The funny thing is, I can’t say that pursuit’s ever ended. Who can blame me when we live in the age of The Internet and never-ending ads telling us to change ourselves? I can say, however, that at 30 years old I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I cut my hair short and wear baggy clothes like I used to when I was a kid.

After all, the flowers have taught me well. Being pretty—or beauty for that matter—has nothing to do with gender. I no longer feel the need to prove my femininity. It exists within me as much as masculinity does. There’s no need to be attractive to anyone else. In fact, there’s so much more joy and healing to be found in creating beauty with your own hands.︎

“I no longer feel the need to prove my femininity. It exists within me as much as masculinity does.”

Sara Erasmo is a still life photographer and mixed media artist.