It takes a lot to go against the grain of a visual culture that provides an endless stream of idealized bodies and lifestyles. It can make it very hard to figure out exactly who we are and what our lives are really about. Finding our essence as a person often requires peeling back layers of false constructs, most of which are simply unrealistic ideas and images about what or who we want to be or think we are supposed to be.
My self-portrait process has definitely been a swim upstream, often choked with resistance. All of my drawings are produced from photographs, yet I didn’t want anyone to photograph me nude! I must admit that on the rare occasions I found the courage to ask a friend to photograph me, it was always a good experience, and I was grateful for the images to work from. But for many, many of my drawings, I used the timer on a tiny point-and-shoot digital camera and a little tripod or a stack of books to take the photos myself. For three years I committed to taking 3 photos a day, and it definitely broke down my resistance.
With time, and repetition, I learned to judge less. See more. Find the beauty in many of the photos. Draw the ones I hated the most, and rediscover that no matter what, my human body is still an amazing machine that allows me to experience life in so many ways.
Try it at home. Please try it. Look at yourself, photograph yourself, draw yourself, so that you, too, can discover that you are okay just the way you are. You are better than okay, you are beautiful, you are you… you are alive… and no matter how loudly your mind protests with all its petty complaints about what could be better, you are enough.
And if you need help learning this new way of seeing yourself, or know of someone else who desperately needs this kind of support, there is help to be had, hands to be held, guidance that can be offered along this path. Please, just ask. firstname.lastname@example.org
2 thoughts on “Look at us, we’re all okay… just the way we are”
I’ve always been self-conscious about my body. I never had the big chest, the big biceps, and being male, there were a lot of other insecurities, like about size. Uggh. I never thought of myself as anything other than an average, insecure person. Then one day, a friend of mine asked me to model for her. I hemmed and hawed, telling her I wasn’t handsome, nor built. She said to me that was my insecurities speaking and that everyone is beautiful in their own way. So I did it, and you read about it here:
As far as your progress, I’m thinking that your self portrait progress has been amazing. Although you’ve shared drawings of your nude photos, some of them are so articulate, that it seems that I’m looking at the actual photo. And they are beautiful!
Keep it going, I enjoy reading about your journey.
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Thank you for sharing, these are such important discoveries, and most people just don’t dare “go there”. But when we do, we are rewarded with the discovery that nudity and the human body are NOT always about exploitation (although of course that exists…). By seeing and honoring the body I truly believe we can fight the tendency to treat it so badly, because we make it sacred and worth protecting.