Day 115 - Nakedness, Photography & Risk
I have a childhood friend that posed for a photographer nude recently. I found this fact fascinating. First of all that someone asked her, not that she isn’t beautiful and looks good naked (I have had the occasion to see her naked by chance) but that she was open enough in her body to invite someone to invade that natural barrier that exists. I am 50 years old, no one has ever asked me to pose nude for anything...ever. Not even a boyfriend or husband. Ok, well maybe some random guys have asked when I was online dating but that, to me, is not the same as an actual man standing in front of you with a camera. That more of a degenerate plea to get them off. The later the creation of art.
Much to her amazement, she did it. She wondering to herself out loud why and then quickly followed with why the fuck not?
As she told me the whole story, I was in such awe of her. Having the courage to be photographed in this most vulnerable manner. I put myself in her place and realized that perhaps I have some more body work to do. I still haven’t taken that damn burlesque class.
What struck me most was how much she shocked herself. Not at being photographed nude (she has done this before) but the whole way it all went down. I thought about the fact that she had come to think of herself in a particular way. Stayed. Reserved. Captive. This act a defiance of who she thinks she is and was.
I remember doing some crazy shit when I left my husband. Risks that I would normally never take. Nothing too crazy...it wasn’t like I opened a brothel, started stripping or race car driving. It was much more benign but what was the same was that my own behavior shocked me.
It was kind of like I woke up from a deep slumber, time had passed and I was older with no memories to account for the passage of time. At least none of my own life. I had lots of memories of my children’s lives but there were none of my own life that stood out as being very interesting. Vanilla. Boring.
That was what I noticed in the way she talked to me about this. This act a very interesting thing she did that had nothing to do with anyone else. Just her. She didn’t ask permission or seek advice, she just went with it.
I also admired her bravery. Her relationship with her body much more kind and friendly and curious than my own. I don’t hate mine and know that I have a figure that many people would be happy to trade me for. But me still missing that ingredient that makes me feel completely at home in it. I still am not a fan of clothed photos of myself, so nude is quite a stretch to me.
There have been times when I have been more comfortable. When my husband moved out of our home, I would swim at night naked in our pool. Something that he would never do with me. I would sit in the hot tub naked and check in with myself:
Hey you are naked, outside, alone.
Yep, totally am.
Kind of pathetic that skinny dipping alone rises to the level of interesting.
But I am doing it. How much more pathetic would it be to be wearing a bathing suit in my own pool and hot tub when there is no one home but me?
As I sat in the hot tub naked, I felt like I was pushing the boundaries of my own being. Claiming something for myself that had been missing. My own nudity something I was less than comfortable with but still willing to risk doing it. I lived on two acres in the woods, not likely that anyone was going to show up at 10 pm on a Tuesday to see me swim around in the pool.
What struck me so with her foray was that it was surprising to her and to me. My experience with marriage and commitment, kind of like signing up for ground hog day on the daily. This is not all marriages or relationships, but it was kind of how mine went. A dullness and sameness that played out day after day. Interest, excitement and fascination being things that were relegated to the beginning of my relationships, not part and particle of their ongoing progression.
I wondered: did I make them that way? Did he? Was that just every relationship? All intimacy coming to a place where self and other discovery and the need for it just died? When did I stop being curious about him? About me? When did the dialog just stop being about what got us off and what we wanted? When did we just climb into a neutral bed that was only passionate in our excitement to watch TV, not touching each other, while looking at our phones? When did we kill the romance for the mundane?
For me, I traded in excitement and interest for safety. I didn’t realize I was doing it. I would have never made that a conscious choice. I am the selector of autonomy and excitement over safety every damn time. Why in this instance, did I shelve passion, interest, curiosity and risk for fucking television?
It would be so easy to blame him. But that would be less than honest. There was a place in time where moving closer to him felt threatening. Risking more than I already had something that I just couldn’t do. I was afraid that he would not like that part of me. Not understand. Judge. So I remained on my side of the bed, discontented but lying to myself about what I wanted and needed. What would have happened if I would have climbed into bed nude? Asked him to take pictures of me that way? What would that have done to our marriage? I will never know because I never asked.
Nudity isn’t really the point. My point is that it is risky. Something that I see bled out of committed relationships. We trade in excitement and the unpredictable for mundacity and require that some status quo that no one really likes be the norm. Why? Are we lazy? Over worked and stressed out? Does a commitment to the raising of children require so much from us that we have nothing left to give ourself and our partner? Why do we give so much to the kids and save nothing for the relationship that created them?
For me it was never the kind of relationship that I could share this kind of stuff. We didn’t talk about fantasy and weren’t intimate in that bare, naked way. We just weren’t. I have had relationships since my marriage that were that way but those relationships were not focused around the rearing of mutual children. Each of us having our own kids to raise, our relationship free to be about us, intimacy, nakedness and sex.
I can remember being shocked by my own needs, interests and willingness to seek someone who could and would address those needs. Finding another person who was willing to risk being judged, or rejected, their own needs paramount to social convention, acceptance and habit.
For me, I woke up when I left my marriage. I had my own incidents of nakedness while not photographed, a return to my body after years of being absent. I still wonder why I left it. I am still not completely sure why, except that I knew that being present as a whole being, too threatening and hard for me to fathom.
In my awakening I can see how far I have come. More at peace in myself than I have ever been. More in touch with my needs, desires and passions. Willing to own a fantasy life and share that with another should the right person come along again. My own resistance to the idea of posing nude a challenge to my evolution...why would I not equally as important as why would I?
For me, writing has become a kind of mental nude photography. Sharing my naked, raw emotional being without filter or, sometimes, discretion or discernment. But doing it anyway. Seeing that my unwillingness to be photographed naked, the same resistance that kept me from showing up more real in my marriage. Fear. Judgment. Fucked up body perception that has plagued my whole existence that has long gone unchecked and unaddressed. All of this culminating in me wanting to be at home in my flesh regardless of whether I am clothed or naked. Never the two being the same but having a feeling of acceptance and love that could bear the brutal light a camera shines on either version of my body.
I am clearly not there yet but I do feel less afraid than I ever have. More willing to push my own boundaries and limitations. Holding myself accountable to me. Demanding from myself a continued willingness to look at myself and really see. See who I am and how that comports with how I am. Working ever so diligently to inhabit myself, naked or not.