Parker Adams discusses overcoming trauma
Senior Parker Adams takes joy from their own life and existence. For them, Bodies Week is an opportunity to share the happiness they worked so hard to obtain.
“You’re here! Sometimes that can be distressing, and sometimes that can be really fun. It’s an invitation to celebrate the fact that you’re physically present and having an impact on this world,” Adams said.
Adams participated in Bodies Week for the second time this year, and they summed up both experiences as enlightening and fun. They did, however, acknowledge that their mindset of celebration and joy came only after a long and sometimes discouraging journey.
Adams’ self image first came under attack when they were a very young child.
“I wanted to be a teacher, and someone said, ‘That’s a stupid idea…’ Or I wanted to be a wedding planner, or like an events planner,” Adams said.
They noted that few adults would blatantly tell them they couldn’t achieve it, but that it was more like subtle discouragements. These discouragements came tied to many aspects of Adams’ identity. Specifically, Adams explained how the female body comes with restraints the male body does not have, such as how strong it should be or how much skin should be shown.
By participating in track and dance, Adams learned to appreciate their body. They grew to enjoy the feeling of having a part of their body undergo change after hard work.
“Like, legs, for example, during track. My legs change so now they can do this thing, not necessarily better or worse, just different,” they said.
Dance, as well, provided an opportunity to explore their body’s abilities, though Adams mentioned they were told they could not dance in certain styles because of their female body.
As a freshman at Knox, Adams survived an assault. Adams said they overcame the event and let it contribute to a “turning-point” in their self image.
“When we’re younger it’s so easy just to be affected by that and not think critically. Coming to Knox, the experiences that have happened to me, good and bad, have helped me to think critically about the systems of oppression that are operating on my body,” they said.
The way trauma has shaped their joy for life inspired their choice of theme this Bodies Week. They based their collection of photos on the Langston Hughes poem “Mother To Son.” In the poem, a mother compares life to a rugged staircase, which Adams likened to their own struggles.
Not only did Adams require incredible force of will to overcome their trials, but they also said they needed a lot of help.
“Thank goodness for good friends,” Adams said.
Jack Harman shares story of Grandfather
Junior Jack Harman prepared his Bodies Week photo with the unique goal of taking as much focus off of himself as possible. He concealed his face and the front of his body, drawing focus instead to the tattoo on his left side. Through this, Harman centralized his creative expression around his grandfather, Warren Harman.
Hailing from Burbank, Calif., Jack Harman never lived more than 40 minutes away from his grandfather, and he remembers visiting “Pum” every Sunday to watch golf.
“Yeah, Pum. P-U-M. When my brother and I were born and my parents asked him what he wanted to be called he said ‘Pum,” Harman said.
Four and a half years ago, Pum received a diagnosis of stage four lung cancer. After almost 30 years serving the Long Beach Fire Department as a Deputy Chief, Jack’s grandfather was told he had six months to live.
“He just kept pushing past that,” Harman said, “Then they gave him six months again a month ago, and it was shorter.”
For the first several years, Pum underwent chemotherapy. The therapy held the cancer at bay but did not reduce it. On the occasions when Pum withdrew from chemotherapy to test the reaction of the cancer, it spread, and he quickly had to start therapy again. Pum decided to withdraw from all chemo this year, and then he received his second six-month diagnosis.
The featured tattoo displays a fireman’s axe resting on its head, meant to mirror the way a fallen soldier’s boots and rifle point to the sky. Harman got the tattoo midway through Winter Term in light of the second diagnosis, knowing he would want his Bodies Week photo to center around his relationship with his grandfather.
“I just didn’t expect it to be so densely compacted,” Harman said.
Warren Harman passed away on Thursday, Feb. 16. Jack Harman shot his Bodies Week photo on Sunday, Feb. 19.
According to Harman, his tattoo, his grandfather, and now his Bodies Week photo represents bravery. Bodies Week itself also stands for bravery to Harman. “I have a very large fear of the way I’m perceived. Bodies Week has definitely helped me through that,” Harman said
He believes the project gives control back to the individual concerning how one is depicted and perceived. Equally important to Harman, it helps participants to base their body positivity on themselves rather than the opinions of others. To Harman, taking control of his image meant using it for something greater than himself.
“It’s as little about me as possible,” Harman said.