There has been so much abuse towards women’s bodies, directly, and indirectly, using images, that it is totally understandable how protective and defensive we are about our hiding our nudity. Too many unthinkable things have happened when people’s privacy was breached and their vulnerability disrespected. Horrible things that can take a lifetime to heal.
It is not a given in our society that sharing a nude image, whether it be a photograph or an illustration, does NOT consent to its sexualisation. I did not take this photo or draw this self-portrait to attract or impress anyone.
I did so to dare to really see myself when I didn’t even want to see myself, to learn to perceive myself in a different light. Today, I see a soft image of a lovely woman, but at the time the photo was taken, I was working through shame about aging and having gained a few pounds, and that was all I could see then. The truth is, I was working through my shit, and it was an act of bravery.
Of course nobody needs to see my naked body, or anyone else’s for that matter, and yet, I’ve discovered that there is freedom in facing this intense fear of being seen and judged. The more nude bodies I saw, in figure drawing classes, in photo sessions, and during my rare visits to a nude beach, the more comfortable I became with the raw vulnerability of humanity, including my own! And nobody could possibly judge me as severely as I have judged myself.
I don’t share my self-portraits because I’m an exhibitionist, in fact on a sliding scale I am way closer to “prude” than to “daring”. I reluctantly started this practice almost 20 years ago, and I continue this practice with conviction because it has helped me make peace with my body. I share it because I want to go forward loving myself and sharing the simple tools I have discovered with others.
I remain forever grateful to the models in my figure-drawing classes. By attending and organizing figure-drawing sessions, it allowed me to see a variety of different body types, which led to both a detachment from, and an appreciation for every nude body we were given the privilege to draw.
It is truly a privilege to see a person nude. It’s not a right, or an embarassment, but rather a gift. It is a tender reminder that we are all vulnerable creatures underneath the costumes we wear, no better or worse than anyone else. May we all learn to treat our bodies with all the big respect that they deserve.
2 thoughts on “Nude does not have to be lewd or prude”
I somehow always ‘knew’ that nudity shouldn’t be shameful no matter the reason, but learning to accept it for myself wasn’t as easy, even if I didn’t consider myself a prude. My youthful, logical-self easily said that nudity is natural, but my emotional self was never so easy-going, so care-free.
Eventually, finding and having a guide who helped me to begin making emotional connections within allowed me to begin a healing process that continues now. This evolution has been more of a holistic approach, in that I have not followed any formal focused practice or therapy. Instead, I found that my chronic lack of self-worth was rooted in psychology and biology both – and it took several substantial adjustments to affect the changes I really needed.
It’s been worth the wait, the struggle, the pain to get this far and to feel so whole.
Thank you Brendan for your thoughtful comment. It sure is a process… a slow one at that. Not a quick fix, but as you say, a worthwhile endeavor to see yourself as beautiful and worthy of love.
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