"I started thinking about all the ways I have felt vulnerable without taking my clothes off. Here are a few off the top of my head: crying in front of someone for the first time, moving to a new country, admitting that I don’t know what I want out of life just yet."



I’ve always had an aversion to my body that extends a little further than our general cultural avoidance of nudity. I have never liked the way I appear in photos, or sound on film, and I have trouble journaling because everything I write feels forced and unnatural. I wanted to participate in this project to see if I could understand a bit more about myself in the process. Maybe if someone else was doing the looking – through a lens, through a computer screen – then I would be able to see something in myself that couldn’t be revealed through introspection.


And here is what I discovered: standing naked in my kitchen while being photographed by a stranger is not at all as embarrassing or demoralizing as I had made it out to be in my mind. In fact, beyond the fleeting moment when I went from clothed to naked, I hardly even noticed my body. I was curious about how it would look on film, but I wasn’t obsessing about the way my belly curved or if you could spot the few hairs I missed when shaving.

I’ve always enjoyed doing things that scare me, and posing naked was something I wouldn’t have even imagined a year ago. But when I stumbled upon the project, I started thinking about all the ways I have felt vulnerable without taking my clothes off. Here are a few off the top of my head: crying in front of someone for the first time, moving to a new country, admitting that I don’t know what I want out of life just yet. Being on the other side of those experiences is a reminder that life is not just about the things that make me feel comfortable and happy – it is about contending with myself, giving myself the possibility of movement despite how exposed or alone or helpless I feel at the time. Realizing that is what gave me the confidence to go ahead with the project.

"You can learn a lot by studying someone’s body, perhaps more than you would by asking them to describe it, and maybe that’s why I have trouble articulating how I feel in my own skin."


You can learn a lot by studying someone’s body, perhaps more than you would by asking them to describe it, and maybe that’s why I have trouble articulating how I feel in my own skin. My body has been with me throughout more experiences than I can remember, and it has the marks to show it. Look closely, and you can see a scattering of chicken pox scars from when I was homebound in fourth grade playing computer games to distract my hands from the itchiness. On my right arm, there’s a new scar, a small burn from sliding a tray into the oven in my apartment in Copenhagen last winter. I have a white birthmark on my back that my father used to joke was caused by the doctor spilling milk on me after I was born. “That’s probably why you like baking so much,” he would say when I asked him about it. These are all little things, but when you put them together you can almost get a portrait of a person.

Whenever I complain about a feature that I don’t like about myself – my unruly hair, or persistent acne scars – my mother is quick to remind me that I will never be as beautiful as I am today. She is open in her concerns about aging gracefully, and whether she knows it or not, they have stuck with me. It breaks my heart every time. I cannot think of anything sadder than the belief that we only grow more ugly as we age, and more so, that this is something we should spend time worrying about. I have accepted that I am never going to look exactly as I would like, but I refuse to let that stop me from enjoying life as it is. 

[And to my father’s point: I think that I bake because it’s the easiest way for me to show affection to the people I care about, and because baking is one of those activities where as long as I follow the instructions, I can always rely on the result. It’s a sweetness, a little consistency that always comes in handy when everything else may seem precarious.]










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