Shedding Insecurities Along with my Clothes
If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be modeling nude, I would’ve laughed and called you crazy. I considered my body far from perfect and was insecure about almost everything. So insecure that I couldn’t even post a photo to social media without suffering a near panic attack for fear of what others would think. So I simply didn’t. I didn't voice my opinions or speak up when I wanted to. I allowed my insecurities to wilt me into a wallflower and found comfort in my anonymity. But that life created an enormous void within me.
When our society, our government, and even our social media outlets tell women that our bodies must be covered more than men, it perpetuates these insecurities. These restrictions imply that a woman’s breasts are more shameful than a man’s. Yet a woman’s breasts are just as natural a part of our anatomy as they are for a man. If anything, a woman’s breasts are less shameful as they are able to perform the amazing feat of feeding and sustaining an infant’s life. Surely sustaining the human race is not shameful.
In addition, these restrictions perpetuate rape culture. Our nation’s puritanical roots come shining through in our society as it becomes the woman’s responsibility to remain modest so as not to distract a man – as if he has no willpower of his own. It creates a culture where only women are taught to not walk alone at night, to be ready to use your car keys as weapons, to never leave a drink unattended, to never wear anything too provocative, and the list goes on and on. By hiding a natural part of only one of the sex’s anatomy, that anatomy becomes forbidden and taboo to the other. Many men now view women’s breasts as a purely sexual object - a coveted prize to be attained instead of the natural and beautiful part of a woman’s anatomy that they are.
I am so grateful that I have developed a great friendship with my photographer, Daniel Love. In our first shoot together, I was extremely nervous. But through his ability to create a trusting and safe environment, I began to open up and take the first steps into exploring a part of my creativity and vulnerability that I could’ve never imagined. Our first set of images was a series of yoga poses. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling I experienced as I looked at those first images on his camera screen. It was as though I was seeing myself in a completely new way – somehow that camera lens allowed me to see what a lifetime of mirrors never had. Instead of seeing my flaws and insecurities – how big my thighs are, how my stomach wasn’t as flat as I wanted it, how my skin wasn’t as clear as it could be; I saw only what I loved about my body. For the first time, I saw how strong my body is, how capable. How flexible my body had become through years of yoga practice. How feminine my body is – without the smallest feeling of shame. Sure, there were occasional blemishes, cellulite, and “imperfections” on my body, but I hardly noticed them, if at all. I was able to see my body not through the views of society – either as shameful or as a sexual object - but as a beautiful creation – just as every single body is.
During our following shoots I have continued to grow and explore new aspects of our collaborative creativity. I also started to travel the country as part of my new job and started a regular meditation practice too. I have slowly but surely become more confident in myself – every day becoming less fearful of making my presence known and letting my voice be heard. I am comfortable in my own skin now and love showing up for every day as my most authentic self. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s me and I love it. I know that I can move to a new city without knowing a soul and create meaningful relationships. I know that I can push through fear to complete a hike I previously thought was impossible. I know that I can sit in stillness and be totally at peace with myself. I know that I can stand naked on a mesa in the snow in Sedona and create beautiful art.
I want all women to begin celebrating our bodies for the miracles that they are. So stop telling us to cover up. Stop telling us that our bodies are shameful. Stop telling us that we are anything less than equal.
We are strong, we are beautiful, we are feminine.