“I try to be open and vulnerable as often as I can, because I think that shows strength, but in the pursuit of that end I sometimes forget that others might not want to hear or see what I have to offer." 


I’ve been very comfortable in my own body for many years now, and I feel like that isn’t the norm. But taking my clothes off in front of a stranger for this project actually put me at ease. I like my body, and I like the idea of separating sexuality and nudity, so that being naked can be a sexual experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Being naked can be mundane. It can be gross. It can be amusing and comfortable and freeing. But, not everybody thinks this way. 


The primary worry I have about being naked in front of others isn’t that I am going to be uncomfortable or embarrassed, but that I am going to make them uncomfortable. I try to be open and vulnerable as often as I can, because I think that shows strength, but in the pursuit of that end I sometimes forget that others might not want to hear or see what I have to offer. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to be photographed naked by a willing stranger, I lept at it.

"I think it gives off the impression that I’m bubbly, sweeter than I actually am..."


What surprised me, then, about my session with Liza, wasn’t anything to do with my body, but was that I couldn’t seem to let a moment go by without filling the silence. I was fine waltzing around my apartment fully nude, getting to chores, but the vulnerability of existing in silence around someone was what I couldn’t handle. I couldn’t stop talking, and whenever there was a pause, I would feel a pull to be interesting, to entertain my guest so that she wouldn’t be bored or think that I was boring. This isn’t a new insecurity for me, and it may simply have been arrogance that kept me from thinking that it would happen this time. It’s happened on first dates, with coworkers, at a Thanksgiving dinner a friend invited me to in university. I think it gives off the impression that I’m bubbly, sweeter than I actually am, so that people don’t see the bitterness or the sadness. I have trouble settling into an experience and feeling calm. And while this may have dampened my experience with Liza, I think it’s worth being confronted with this tension now. I think that being forced to reckon with the parts of myself I still don’t like, especially when there’s so much that I do like, will ultimately make me better – more self-aware – even if the process is less than comfortable.











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