"I'm engaged in a lot of varying things, namely community initiatives, some of which include politics."  


When I was first approached about participating, I was completely willing to do so. As I mulled it over however, I thought to myself, "I could, but what purpose would it serve?" and decided it wasn't what I needed. I'd said I would consider it, and I did, but was still resilient on why I would want to.


I'm engaged in a lot of varying things, namely community initiatives, some of which include politics. Is being nude - and online, no less - going to help me? Or more importantly, is it going to hinder the groups I'm affiliated with? Is this something that could come back to haunt me?


I was once "relieved of employment" at a job because I'd involved unions, and called out my manager for animal abuse to particular advocacy groups. When I did, I had people tell me I'd never be employed again because I'd be known as "a shit disturber" but I quickly came to realize that if that was going to be the reason I wasn't hired for a position somewhere else, I wouldn't want to work there. It's not unlike that here. I would rather be disliked for who I am than sacrifice my integrity and be accepted. I owe it to myself to be honest, and honestly, I wanted to do this. Damned be the consequences, I don't need to be agreeable to everyone.


"I would rather be disliked for who I am than sacrifice my integrity and be accepted." 


Once I'd realized that, it became a lot easier to let myself participate. It brought up other things I hadn't considered though. Growing up, I always saw myself as heavier; I had a long ugly duckling phase, as they say. I've gotten more and more physically fit, and while I don't have a six pack, my body has carried me across the country by bicycle, and for that, I love my body. This was to be an occasion to celebrate that, to prove to myself that I'm not ashamed of my body, despite any "flaws" it may have.


"This was an opportunity for me to, as a friend says, 'Own my shit.'"


We talk a lot as a culture about how women are to conform to a particular standard of aesthetic appeal. Men have similar pressure in many different ways, but we don't talk about it - this was an opportunity to question the body shaming men are put under. By conventional means, I recognize I'm closer to the social ideal than a lot of men: I'm able-bodied, I'm young, white, and have some muscle. I know this, I'm aware of the privilege this allows me, but despite this, I'm still subjected to shame. I internalized this for a long time, and still have to a large degree of course, but this was a step to deal with that. This was an opportunity for me to, as a friend says, "Own my shit."


Then came the photoshoot. It was a lot easier to strip down and hop onto a bike than I'd expected. I felt almost entirely at ease. The only uncomfortable part was the bike seat - they aren't meant to withstand a bare, sweaty set of cheeks. It got to feel quite easy to talk in those circumstances, though often when cycling, I prefer to wear briefs, as it keeps certain things out of the way. There is no getting used to that.


There's still the big reveal, to see the pictures, but I feel like I already got so much out of this experience. I don't know how I'll feel about it, but oddly, I'm at ease. It's a curious feeling, being nude and not sexualized.. or not medicalized, like if you strip down for your doctor. It's closer to the latter, in that you are the subject of the gaze to be analyzed, but it's not a matter of "healthy/unhealthy" rather, an intrinsic value to be appreciated. This is a body, my body, and it is what it is. It's good because its my body, and I have it. Fully Disclothed helped me feel it, or dare I say, embody that.









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