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I spent most of my teenage years and some of my adulthood beneath the shroud of oversized sweaters. Hiding my body. Concealing curves and cellulite and pale skin. I would pull a sweater over my head—the bigger the better—every morning, willing my body away. Sometimes, I would even swim fully clothed, in a T-shirt and shorts, citing my false fear of potential sunburn.
That girl was unwittingly feeding and feeding her shame. It had a boundless appetite. She could never have conceived that one day she would be standing naked in her living room, preparing for somebody to take photographs of her, preparing to put those photographs on the internet. Rather, it was countless little moments, wedged between that girl hiding in the sweater and the my nudist pictures woman I am now.
Last year, the idea of my body was on my mind—a lot. I thought about it first when I woke up in the morning. I thought about it when I put my arms through the puffy sleeves of my winter jacket. I thought about it on subway cars where I would watch other commuters—people who seemed, to me, to be blissfully unaware of their bodies and how those bodies were perceived.
I thought about it when I would catch the silvery flash of my reflection in the mirror before I went to sleep. I thought about my beauty. Or my ugliness. I thought about it all the time. Which one I possessed.
Or which one possessed me. For a brief time, when I was just a kid, my idea of beauty was synonymous with my mother and the moles speckled along her back. There were too many other ideas: glossy magazine spre, infomercials for magic weight-loss pills, that scene of Oprah equating the weight she had lost to chunks of fat she rolled out in a wagon, and Britney Spears circaemerging from a curtain of jewels and be with her flat, tanned belly in low-rise pants on the cover of her second album, Oops!
Of course, I was the girl who deliberately turned from the mirror before getting dressed. I was the girl who wore a sports bra for most of the early s just to avoid my nudist pictures the shape of my breasts. Until that moment last year in my living room, I had rarely been naked unless I had to be. I was exhausted. I wanted to look at my naked body without wincing. I wanted to think about my naked body without thinking about a man and how he would perceive it. How and if he desired it. I wanted to explore a question I had always been too scared to seriously ask: Was I ugly?
I wanted to not care about the answer. I f I were to conduct this experiment, I needed evidence. We decided to use a Polaroid camera. It forced me to let go of control as much as possible over the situation, over my body. They were hard to look at: the milky flesh of my arms, the creases where they bend, the height at which my breasts sit on my chest, the shape of my nipples, the cellulite rippling across my left ass cheek, the hollow-looking dimple on the other cheek, icy-blue veins spreading at the edges of my hips, stretch marks snaking from my kneecaps.
So much fixing and eliminating to be done. My first my nudist pictures was that I was ugly. It knocked against my brain and quickly sank into my stomach. There was my answer. There was the proof to my hypothesis. I had secretly hoped I was beautiful. Conventionally beautiful. But we kept going. It was the only thing I could think to do. That I would suddenly feel beautiful. And, to my own surprise, as the hours passed, as I was standing naked in my dingy bachelor apartment in Toronto, something did change. More and more, my body became just a body: skin and bones and muscle tissue and fat.
I had lungs to breathe with and a heart that could beat. Something became clear, for the first time in my life: these were the everyday intricacies I was made of. There is an abundance of beauty to be found in that, which I had been taking for granted my whole life.
I work hard to hold on to this truth, to let the knowledge settle in my pores. I retell the story of my body to myself as often as I can. I tell myself: this body is more than enough. Still, there are many days the new story seems too far-fetched to believe. After the shoot, I put the photographs in a drawer. And there they sat for months. Until, one day last year, I cleared out my Instagram on a whim. Suddenly, I had a blank slate. A blank slate and more than sixty nude photographs. I thought of my body, of beauty, and of the type of beauty we see most often on Instagram.
I thought of contouring and the Kardashians. I thought of the standards and ideals our culture my nudist pictures to crave. And I looked at the photographs. I posted the phrase, repeated in red, next to a picture of my folded, naked body. After that, I decided to try another experiment. Could a naked female body and, even more specifically, could my naked body, ever be just a body in a public space?
Could it be empowered? Could it just exist? When I posted that first naked photo on Instagram, on some level, I surrendered. I no longer had control over the idea of my body, my nudity, or how the photographs would be perceived. I no longer wanted control. What would happen if I took my body out of my mind and put it into spaces that made me feel uncomfortable?
Could I challenge those spaces and the kinds of bodies that dominated them? Since that first photo shoot, I have posed for nude and seminude photographs in my bathroom, in a dimly lit laundromat in the Junction neighbourhood in Toronto, at two different subway stations, on a populated subway car, at bus stops, in an underground parking lot, and in city parks. And now, over the last decade or so, women have used nudity to express what Pacom calls the newest wave of feminism.
Nudity, adds Pacom, has become a means to criticize the system. Historically, says Pacom, a naked female body has been a means of disruption in a way that a naked male body has never been. I thought about the reason that could be. I thought about how I felt shedding my clothes in front of the camera.
In some ways, it felt as if, in my nudity, I had also peeled off the social contract, the ideas and expectations that had been placed on me my nudist pictures whole life. We hear about how young women are exploited and abused through the use of social media. The internet is a different place than it once was, and young women, in particular, my nudist pictures setting down new rules. A quick scroll through Instagram will show many women lifting each other up in comment sections and together taking down the men who are trying to get in the way.
I myself have publically shamed a man who thought it was perfectly normal to send me photos of his genitals. Naked female bodies are not permission for bad male behaviour, and women on the internet are working to get that message across. Brianne Cail, founder of the Toronto-based blog Sincerely, Brioften takes revealing photos and posts them on social media. Many of her blog posts and photos centre on the idea of body positivity—growing it within herself and inspiring it in her followers. Her first nearly naked photos came out of a partnership with Knix, a Canadian undergarment company, in which Cail walked down the runway in only a bra and underwear.
The runway show featured women of different backgrounds, races, ages, body shapes, and sizes. From there, Cail began posting more close-to-nude photos on Instagram. There is one of the plus-size blogger wearing a bathrobe that exposes a fold across her abdomen. In others, Cail is wearing just her bra and underwear. The Knix experience, she says, forced her to think of her body differently and edge closer to a place of acceptance.
In fact, she guesses that many of her social-media followers had no idea she was born without part of four fingers on her right hand until recently. As she shows more of her physical self online, however, those followers seeing all of who she is.
After our conversation, Cail decided to post an Instagram photo of herself, displaying her right hand prominently. She had never done it before. Aside from opening jars, she adds, her hand has never been something that has stopped her. But some people have questioned my morality, my mental health, and whether or not I was making a strange, pornographic cry for help.
I have had a photograph of my ass taken down, and my nipples, pictured at Jane subway station, were also considered offensive enough for Instagram to send me a prompt warning after the photo was posted. I reposted it. An ugly black line now tears across my chest in the photo. I loathe it. It reminds me that, like for much of history we, as women, find ourselves being told how to behave, how much to wear, and what it means to do so in a public domain.
Her shame, her fear of being ugly—I will never not know what it means to be her.
But now I also know what it means to be the naked woman, in her living room, somewhere between beauty and ugliness. July 29, December 18, July 29, July 31, July 29, November 15, The Beauty Conversation Appearance shapes the way the world sees us.
But what does it say about who we really are? Sam Juric. Sam Juric is a writer and journalist based in PEI. Related Posts.My nudist pictures
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