Photographer Samantha Geballe
started taking self-portraits in 2013, one year before she underwent gastric bypass surgery, and she continues to photograph herself today —
nearly three years since the procedure.
Her photos, when viewed all together, depict a major turning point in her life: the moment when she started to accept her body.
"I didn’t realize until after I had had gastric bypass that I had no idea what I looked like," Geballe tells Refinery29. "For some time after, I couldn’t manage my thoughts around my body. I didn’t recognize the person reflected before me."
As immense as Geballe's physical changes were after the surgery — she says she is "two adults smaller" than she was before — the procedure took an incredible emotional toll on her, as well. It was only through photography that Geballe found a way to process these feelings of alienation from her own body.
"It became a way of being kind to myself," she says. "I continue to photograph myself now because I need to see. I need to see myself. I want to understand and accept myself."
Geballe is still learning to be at peace with her body, but with the emotional distance that her photography gives her, she's already learned that self-acceptance starts from within: "If I am unhappy big, I will be unhappy small. It’s important to accept your body, even if it’s not where you want it to be."
She hopes her viewers find comfort in her photos, and in knowing that someone else out there is also working toward self-love.
"I believe in the infinite value of connection, and it is the way I combat the shame I feel," Geballe says. "At the end of the day, our lives may look nothing alike, but maybe we’ve shared similar feelings."
Click through to view a selection of Geballe's work.