From releasing her recent chapbook After, to touring the nation with her words, and her dedicated work with young poets and writers with Young Chicago Authors, Fatimah Asghar is one of the most prolific rising voices in the Chicago poetry scene and beyond. She can add photographer to the long list of creative endeavors. “Let Me Love Me” is Asghar’s brainchild stemmed through her activism and her work which deals largely with bodies, voices and the isms of society.
The project is an ongoing photo series surrounding the idea of brown bodies and how they are perceived, valued and loved, not only by the culture at large, but by the very people that inhabit those vessels. The project features people posed nude, bare, vulnerable, and open. Asghar interviews each person, shedding light on their insecurities, the things they love, or hate about themselves, and the metaphorical weights they carry. The result is an intimate and beautiful portrayal of people speaking their truths, whether it be painful and hard, or poignant and real, something which Asghar is no stranger to lending her voice to.
amfm: The photo project was born out of the recognition of the need for self love for your friends and people of color, especially with these trying times. Why was this something that you wanted to tackle or address and why do you think the photo project was the vessel to address those things? Why did you want to do this project?
fatimah asghar: I created the project in January 2015, in the context of a really hard and racially tumultuous time. My friends of color and I had spent a lot of time protesting police brutality and were failing to take care of ourselves, but were fighting really hard. All around were a lot of media stories debating and dissecting bodies of color. It’s hard, to see your image and only hear it talked about as a problem. I wanted to create a space of love for our bodies, where a wide range of people of color could carve out some time to reflect on the ways that they love themselves, their journeys with learning to love their bodies, and just sit in their own beauty.
amfm: What is the significance of calling it “Let Me Love Me?” Like loving oneself should be something allowed.
asghar: I don’t think people of color are allowed to love ourselves openly in American society. There is so much telling us we are ugly, that our bodies are unworthy of love. If someone does radically love themselves, they are dismissed as vain or arrogant or as a hoe, or something else. So this is a fuck you to that. This is a I-don’t-give-a-fuck-and-I’m-gonna-love-myself-anyway.
The release party for Fatimah Asghar’s first chapbook, After, and an exhibit of her nude photo series, “Let Me Love Me,” will take place at Cultura in Pilsen this Saturday, December 19th from 7-10pm. View event details on the Gozamos event calendar by clicking here.