I hate being naked. Let me say that again – I HATE being naked.
As a child and teenager, and throughout my twenties, I always liked my body. It was skinny, but curvy. Since my first pregnancy (I have three beautiful children), my weight has fluctuated significantly for my small frame. I feel guilty because I should love it anyway, right? I love to do yoga and go for long walks; I can play with my kids and I have no health problems. But I don’t love my body. I despise it; I ridicule it; I refuse to look at or touch it.
I stumbled across Jade on FB and started following her. I became obsessed with her and her work. Not in a creepy, stalker sort of way, but in a she-inspires-me-to-want-to-learn-to-love-all-of-me way. I purchased her book as soon as it came out. Then, I purchased copies for women who also inspire me – my yoga teachers, therapists, and dear friends. I just couldn’t get enough of her photographs and wanted everyone to see the message she is spreading. All the women she photographs and blogs about are so beautiful, regardless of their sizes, shapes, scars, blemishes or stories. I wanted to see myself that way – through her lens.
Not only do I hate being naked, but also I HATE having my picture taken. I always have; but it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and gained weight. When I look at a photograph of myself I zero in on all my flaws – extra flab, double chin, eyes too close, cellulite, discolored skin. Oh, I can go on and on. I can look and feel fabulous, but then see a picture of that moment and hate what I see.
Something about Jade just touched me. I knew I would be safe with her. I knew I could be my authentic self and be naked in front of her. I knew she would cherish me and appreciate my imperfections – maybe even see them as beautiful. So I booked a shoot with her and a solo plane ticket to Arizona.
As the date neared, I hoped I would lose a few pounds. But I didn’t; I might have even gained weight. The night before I was leaving, my kids wanted to go out for burgers and fries. I thought it crazy to eat that way before a nude photo shoot, but, because I am trying to be in the moment, appreciate that my kids love me no matter my weight, and like making them happy, that’s what we did.
Jade picked me up from my hotel and we talked on our way to her studio. I was a little in shock and denial of what I was about to do. I rambled on the whole way sharing my “story” with her and what led to my self-hatred and poor body image. I wanted her to understand how much she and this meant to me.
I cried during the first half of the shoot, which is ironic as that was the time I was actually dressed. I was crying about exposing myself. I wasn’t yet literally “naked,” but I felt so exposed in front of the camera. I really came to understand how uncomfortable I am in my own skin. But I went with it and trusted Jade completely.
Eventually I loosened up. And slowly, I shed my clothes. By the end of the shoot, I even began having some fun and feeling a little more comfortable in my skin.
I realized that not only do I never get naked physically, but also I keep myself covered emotionally. I am 45 and going through what I call a mid-life rebirth. During this process I am learning to love myself (something I have never done before) and expose myself to others both physically and emotionally. I am trying to shed my clothes and emotional walls more often and love everything I see. The good and the bad because they are what they ARE.
Today I look at my pictures and I still see some my flaws, but I am really starting to see the pictures in their entirety. There are even some times when I look at them and think “I look pretty good!”