Just be

I found a particular set of nude photos on my laptop recently whilst transferring everything to a new one. They are old and there have been many more since but seeing them again made me realise I was incredibly proud of this particular set photos because they were the only set of this type that were absolutely “no holds barred” from back then and that was a big thing for me at that time. I looked at them and I was proud of the person in them and who she has become. It’s been a very long road with many insecurities. There are now less insecurities. I still have days where I don’t really want to look in a mirror but on the whole, all is well and I am comfortable in my own skin.

These photos really got me thinking and I recalled an incident shortly after they were taken. There had been an mix up at a place of work. An I.T technician had picked up my personal laptop and not my work one for some maintenance. He had found these photographs of me and then decided to show the Manager. I was obviously called to the office and the misunderstanding was soon realised. I walked out of the office that day with my head held high not giving two hoots about anybody’s opinion. The technician came to me soon afterwards to apologise and said he thought they were sexy and he admired my confidence to have them taken. Indeed, some would call them “sexy” but I really don’t need labels on my self expression. It is confidence. This is the kind of expression that gets rejected by society. It is the kind that comes from true confidence not from looks. It is about power. Power that leads to the empowerment of others. It is about me being fine with who I am. You don’t have to love your body all the time, but loving who you are is another story. I am sure that does not make sense to everyone. How can I sit here naked and not be ashamed or worry about my body. It is simple. I will not let the critical eyes of societal standards stop me from existing fully. It is not real. It is a fiction that is forced upon us. We are programmed to see an image with cellulite or a few extra pounds of flesh on the bones and start shaming and comparing for so many different reasons. Too fat. Too short. Too sexy. Too naked. Watch your thoughts next time you do it and ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you doing it because you want to or because you’re programmed to? Instead look at the picture and find all the positives in it. You’ll find them and when you do, you will start to see them in yourself too.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through years of shame, it’s that I will never please everybody. No matter what my body looks like, no matter what I’m wearing, no matter what I say, somebody somewhere wants to bring in the shame. The people that will find shame in the main picture attached to this Blog will far outweigh the positive ones. Do I care? No, not now. At this point, I know it has to do with them and not me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience the outcome of embedded thought patterns that cause society to dehumanise and manipulate women, especially as one living in a body that doesn’t conform to the “norm”. 

 In addition to scrutiny over women’s bodies, society doesn’t either quite know what to do with medium, fat, short, tall or long bodies. Many people are disgusted by them. Many people quietly fear the possibility of fatness for themselves. Many people project insecurities under the guise of health policing. I can’t really blame them; I grew up without any exemplification and the only time I saw a body like mine was for a diet shake, a pre fitness video example, a new weight loss fad or the latest detox plan. So we learn that fat must be bad and the rest spirals out of control from there. Yes, I hold my hand up and say it can indeed be bad and unhealthy but should there be a loss of control of who we are because of that? Should we feel bad about a body that is different from the one that is thrust upon us in every catalogue or advertisement we come across? No. No we bloody shouldn’t.

It is a fact that women’s bodies are sexualised far beyond the amount of space I have available in this Blog. If I published a picture of me sitting in my underwear , it would honestly feel like a political statement because not only would I presenting my body without the shame society thinks I should feel, but I also have cleavage, curves, a peachy rounded backside, big hips, and all of these things that society sees and says are “too sexy” or “bad role model.” This response is hilarious to me because so many accept women’s bodies and sex as a way to sell things. Women’s bodies are continuously being “papped”  and scrutinised on the cover of magazines you walk past at the newsagent, but as soon as a woman chooses to reclaim her body or even show it out of her own power, her own control, her own choice, people get opinionated. That’s because the shame, sexualisation , and dehumanisation of women is a control tactic. It has nothing to do with bodies or indeed with sex. It has everything to do with sickening patriarchal power. 

As a result, it’s pretty taboo and uncomfortable for many to see a woman embrace her sexual power. We are taught sex is shameful, women’s bodies are shameful, women enjoying sex is shameful, women feeling or expressing their sexuality is shameful, I could go on. I won’t. I do however say that it is poppycock. It took me years to undo the detrimental narrative surrounding women, fat bodies and sex. Separately and together. It took me years to realise there is nothing wrong with my tummy, cellulite, stretch marks, slightly different shaped breasts, lack of thigh gap, wibbly thighs and everything else that I have actually now grown to love. Yes LOVE! It took me years to realise I deserve to enjoy my body through all it’s transitions, prioritise my pleasure, and express myself however I want, whenever I want. As I’ve grown to work through these insecurities, I’ve grown to appreciate all parts of my power. My body, my mind, my sensuality, my sexuality, my vulnerability, my compassion and ultimately my confidence in being who I am. All of these things are my strength and are a beautiful part of what makes me, me. If people don’t like it, tough. If friends don’t want to be out with me because I don’t fall into the correct sizing or fashion category, their loss. I don’t want to be a sheep on any level. Don’t ask me to be and certainly don’t expect me to be. You keep your “Sliders” and I’ll  go barefoot. You have your lip plumping collagen injections and take all the photos in the world of yourself but don’t make me feel ashamed to be in your photograph because I don’t fill my lips with plastic. Do it if it makes you happy and confident. Do whatever makes you happy. I don’t have the slightest problem with that but don’t make me feel bad because I am happy with who I am and I don’t want to. 

I shun the concept that women cannot or should not revel in their sensual power whenever they want. I shun the concept that fat bodies, in fact, any bodies, ever deserve to be sexualised by others. I shun the idea that it is at all taboo for women, especially fat women, to embody “sexy” or display the beauty of an intimate connection with themselves. I shun the idea that women aren’t allowed to feel sexy, beautiful, confident, powerful, whatever we bloody well want.  

Whoever you are, you can be whatever you want to be, and you can even feel good about it, too. 

Just be.

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