"I felt completely exhausted by the experience. Initially, I also felt a bit like a failure."


I have quietly abused my body for as long as I can remember: judging it, comparing it, berating it, punishing it, neglecting it. I have resented sunlight for making my body more visible. I have convinced myself that I was asexual because the shame I had around my body was rendering me unable to enjoy sex. All of these struggles happening so quietly that almost no one would have known. In recent years, I have gotten a lot more comfortable being vulnerable and revealing myself in words – but my body is something I still struggle to reveal. Lately I’ve realized that no matter how much self development work I do, if my own body continues to be a source of shame and secrecy, it will continue to hold me back in every aspect of my life. So when I came across this project, I saw it as one (very terrifying) step I could take in allowing myself permission to be exactly who I am – body and all – and to be seen in that. Without giving myself a single second to protest, I signed up to participate.


Leading up to the shoot, I scoured the FD gallery looking for bodies that resembled my own: a body with a slim build but a round, chubby belly; with a round, chubby belly but a relatively flat chest and butt. I was still looking for something external to tell me it was okay just to be myself. To my dismay, I didn’t find any body that I felt I could relate to, and I felt frustrated and ashamed. What I could have perceived as something beautiful – that incredible uniqueness we all have – at the time was just a reason to judge and hate my body more.


Looking back on my actual experience with Liza feels a bit like a dream. The experience of being fully exposed with a stranger I had just met (especially in the context of doing something so “normal” as making a salad) just felt too surreal for me to process. I remember physically shaking in the first few moments, but also how quickly that went away and how “unstrange” it began to feel. Yet at the same time, the calmness I felt on the outside was in contrast to a sense of quiet hyperarousal inside that I don’t think ever went away. Looking back on it, part of that hyperarousal actually had a flavour of anger or resentment to it.

"I’m realizing through this experience that being 'exposed' or naked to me has always meant being in contrast to something else: I feel naked when I share something edgy about myself without reciprocation from the other person, or when I am unclothed with someone who is clothed..."


This has led me to reflect on the different layers of discomfort that exist for me in being naked: the shame that exists around how my body looks, but also the deeper vulnerability of being exposed. I’m realizing through this experience that being “exposed” or naked to me has always meant being in contrast to something else: I feel naked when I share something edgy about myself without reciprocation from the other person, or when I am unclothed with someone who is clothed (as was the case during the shoot). I wonder, then, if we are all in the same boat, all “naked”, how the meaning of the word changes for me. This is something I am now curious to explore with others.


After Liza left, I felt completely exhausted by the experience. Initially, I also felt a bit like a failure. I thought back on all the other posts I had seen on FD of people sharing how they felt liberated, proud, at peace after the shoot – and I noticed that was not my experience. Instead I mostly just felt like crying! After a few days though, I’ve realized that getting stuck on this and beating myself up for it would only be replicating the exact behaviours that have been so harmful in my relationship with my body: comparing and judging, rather than letting it be as it is. Perhaps the meaning of this experience for me, then, was not to magically “get over” these issues I have carried for so long, but to give myself a “lookout point”: a space to observe my long history with my body, to reflect on all the nuances that exist in my fear and shame around nakedness, and to release some of that fear and shame through sharing and through new explorations.


Of course, this is not just about me. A friend of mine once said, “When we courageously do things imperfectly, it gives everyone around us a sigh of relief because it gives them permission to do so as well”. So it is my hope that through participating in this project – through courageously being imperfect in front of others – I can be part of a bigger movement: towards giving every part of ourselves unconditional love, and the permission to be exactly as we are.








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