I am scared to share these photographs and writings with you. If asked why, I may be tempted to nonchalantly say I have no idea. Except that would be a lie. Deep down, I know why: Because I am a rebel with a cause. Because I want to say fuck you to our society’s view on a woman’s body. Because I don’t want to be a photographer who only shows work of thin “perfect”-looking women. Because it’s my belief that a body with curves and butt-dimples which has just given birth to another human should also be praised and seen as beautiful.
I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy with my now-5-week old son Sequoia Narayan. If feeling self-conscious on the road to getting bigger daily heading into his birth was scary, I am realizing it was nothing compared to how I feel in my body without the excuse of a growing human inside. Now I simply feel fat. I know this may expose me to a host of responses ranging from pity to jealous anger. But it is my truth.
I had been active until the morning I went into labor, ate mostly greens and rarely indulged in sweets! ”So what HAPPENED?!?!” I kept wondering… The answer is, LIFE happened. It’s true I had an easy birth and have a beautiful healthy son, so the last thing on my mind should be the flesh-rolls of my stomach & back, the dimples in my booty, and the dark circles under my eyes. But I am here to confess: It is a struggle to feel beautiful right now. I am a WONDERFUL caregiver and feed my son all day from my newly-swollen breasts. I have stayed up most of every single night of his first 5 weeks of life feeding him & caring for him, which makes me feel truly SELFLESS.
Yet, guess what Sequoia has also taught me? That I am also incredibly SELFISH! I like alone time gardening or being in a bubble bath. I love my job and nurturing my business. I like sacred time all to myself. I NEED to exercise and dance! So, tearfully alive, I am setting out on the path of finding the blissful balance of embracing both my selflessness and my selfishness.
What does any of this have to do with photographing my newly plump and naked body? I suppose it would be that I selfishly want to BURN the veil that hides the beauty of a body that has gained 50 pounds in order to give birth to another human. I want to selfishly inspire women who are not our society’s idea of beautiful to feel Perfectly Gorgeous. I want to make rich compost with the feelings of unworthiness and lovingly plant and nurture authentic seeds of love and belief that our bodies ARE worthy. Worthy of love and appreciation no matter what shape we may be. I selfishly want to show divinity where we have been taught as a culture to quickly dislike and judge. Every body, including my own, is a map to an individual and a non-replicable story: That, dear reader, is truly beautiful.
Perhaps my lack of sleep has given me more courage to show you these vulnerable photographs. Maybe it has assisted me in finding true freedom from caring what others think of me even more than before. Maybe my son has shown me that being selfless and selfish is the medicine I have always needed. Maybe being a mother is more dynamic and difficult than I previously thought. Maybe I have never lived out of my Heart as fully as I am now. Maybe I just want you to know that you are perfect just as you are in that body of yours and I am willing to show you my scary vulnerability in hopes to inspire you.
Please hold these photogrpahs and my vulnerability in the palms of your feet, hands and heart. Try and be free from judgment. Try to let go of needing to explain my fear and joy. Someone once told Frida Khalo she was a wonderful surrealist painter. She responded that she was not a surrealist painter, but instead she simply painted her reality.
My Mantra: Fake it ’till you make it.
The true key to happiness is our choice to BE happy. Maybe we need community. Maybe we need to dance. Maybe we need to climb mountains… Open your wings and FLY. Your perfect body will follow your heart if you choose to “live your life like it’s golden.”
– Jade Beall is founder of A Beautiful Body Project, does private shoots with women and families of truthful images to empower and build self-esteem. You can view more of Jade’s work at www.JadeBeall.com