of myself I ever made public. It was taken by
who has become one of my dearest friends. Since this is an open post, I used a different picture by Robert above.*
This is the first photo of me nude that I have allowed to be put on the internet.
I have felt very conflicted about this decision for a long time. However, after a LOT of thought, I feel that this is a positive step in my personal growth.
Things are about to get really real and possibly triggering right now so you’re welcome to check out but I’m going to explain my thoughts about nudity and my personal relationship with the concept because I feel like it’s necessary.
I grew up being taught that nudity and sex were shameful by parents who clearly did not practice the paradigms they were enforcing on me. I did not run around naked as a child (I wasn’t even allowed to play with crayons because I might get dirty) and, if the body was talked about at all – it mostly wasn’t – it was in a negative, shame-ridden context.
All the while, my father was inviting over or moving his prostitutes into the home he shared with my mother and I. When my mother left him, a string of boyfriends came in and out of our lives. In our tiny living arrangements, very little of their relationships with my mother were hidden.
As if I wasn’t already exposed to plenty of child inappropriate situations, HBO often served as my babysitter. To make matters worse, I was sexually abused consistently between the ages of 5 to 8 and suffered from severe anorexia due to bullying at school and at home regarding my appearance.
As people from my type of background are wont to do, in my adulthood I found myself getting involved in abusive relationships. If you’re a close reader you’ll notice the wording of the first sentence of this post is a bit odd. I say “allowed” because I had an ex who talked me into taking pictures I didn’t want to take and then secretly posted them on the internet and sent them to various friends. That experience was so humiliating I considered suicide. The same ex is currently a registered sex offender due to crimes he committed against other people.
I went on to fetishisized the concept of my own purity, as if some how my worth was tied to how few people I slept with or how many people saw me naked ( @elenasiddal had a great post about this). It was to the point that I found it impossible to even change my clothes in front of other women.
All the while I hated this aspect of my personality. I wished that I was one of those people that stripped naked in the locker room like it was nothing. I often said that when I had children I would let them run around naked because I didn’t want them to grow up to be as uncomfortable in their skin as I felt. I admired art models and strippers for their ability to not only be comfortable in their own bodies but to use it to get what they needed/wanted out of life.
Then I had a major mental breakdown and started taking anti-depressants. One of few side effects of the medication was that things that I use to be ashamed of started to disappear inexplicably. I no longer feared to the point of a panic attack singing in front of people, learning a new skill in front of others, or changing my clothes in front of people. At first I was confused by this change and even scared by it, but after a little while I became very proud of these changes because I think they represent steps toward recovery.
With my new-found confidence, I decided to try my hand at something that I’d been thinking about doing since I hit 5'8" in 4th grade; modeling.
I use to be ashamed and insecure to do anything related to my looks because I just knew I was too ugly or flawed to possibly succeed. This is also why I never pursued acting although I was frequently told I had a talent for it.
Motivated by my new forms of confidence, eager to find myself and partly out of jealousy (that’s a whole other long story), I started modeling, and I think I’m pretty fucking good at it and doing it makes me feel super good. Yes, there is the superficial thrill of having your appearance immortalized and praised, but it’s fucking fun to play around in front of a camera and inspire people and create images that other people will enjoy. Also, you meet some really great, creative people in the process.
However, there was immediately pressure to pose nude. As an artist myself, I understood the benefit of the nude form over the clothed, but I didn’t think all of the pressure was with art in mind. It also stung to have photographers I really wanted to work with rudely tell me they wouldn’t shoot with me if I didn’t pose nude although their portfolios included clothed work. I feel if you’re truly creative, you can work within any parameters. Nonetheless, it was becoming harder and harder to say no, but just not because of the pressure. I wanted to be like models palesaint, katkalashnikov, eleanor-nude, jordanbunniie, tschirhart, sugar-factory, rivimadison, floofiesworld, etc. who were living works of art.
You could say there’s a fine line between art and porn, and you’d be right, but it’s completely subjective. I look at their pictures and they make me think or at least make me pause to admire them. Sure, the same photos probably serve to arouse a lot of people but that in itself does not devalue the prep and skill and emotion used to capture the image.
Still I held back fearing what my loved ones might think or how it would impact my career. However, after waking up in the hospital from my third serious suicide attempt in 6 months, I realized I don’t care anymore. I’m not happy with the direction my life is going in. I’m not happy with the person I am. I don’t want to continue looking back at my past and regretting withholding myself or second-guessing myself or doing things for someone else’s benefit.
As for the career, I don’t fucking want to be a lawyer anymore. It’s fucking stressful, pays shit, and is totally unfulfilling to me. Even if I did want to get back into law, my legal background is in civil liberties and criminal defense. With those crowds, this shit would make me more successful.
As for the possibility of it devaluing my lovers’ relationship with me, to that I say; the beauty of their face doesn’t decrease to me with every person that sees it or fantasizes about it, my admiration for their wit and compassion doesn’t diminish the more they display it, and there’s infinitely more to me that’s hidden away that only they get to experience.
If it’s more important to you to be part of a small group of people who know the shape of my nipples than it is to be part of even smaller group who knows what I look like when I cry or how it feels to be the person I turn to for comfort in times of need or knows just how I liked to be touched, than you’re not the person for me regardless if I post this picture or not. Furthermore, if someone is attracted to me they’re going to be aroused by me whether or not I’m naked or wearing a hijab. If anything, I possibly just ruined a lot of people’s fantasies because they were hoping for puffier nipples or something; the imagination is always better than the reality.
In conclusion, I’m proud of this picture. On a technical level it is stunning and it captures a rare moment in time when I was comfortable, relaxed, and happy. In addition to the moment, it preserves a turning point in my life, a transition. Maybe I’ll later regret that transition, but I’ll be proud I was able to do something that frightens most people and once frightened me. Oh, and that my body looked super bangin’ at one point. Also, I feel like for the first time in my life I have dominion over my body and I’m not ashamed of it. For the first time in my life, my body is controlled and used in ways that I dictate, and that, more than anything, is why I like this picture. It may be fleeting, but right now, this is me, this who I want to be, and I like it.
Thank you robertweissner and all the other supportive people that have stood by me these last few months for helping me reach a point where I could say that about myself.