*Warning: nudity & naughty language ahead!
I did a naked photo shoot recently.
Yes, I know, can you believe it?
54, fat, fabulous, and fully fucking naked.
With just a little bit of paint.
It was all in the name of a wonderful young artist.
Sophie has opened her first ever shop/gallery in Manly Sydney, Australia. She put out a call for some brave women to be painted for a window display to celebrate the opening.
She paints nudes.
At first I thought she wanted to paint us, you know, on canvas. Where we’d just pose for her.
I was hoping that she may be open to painting a few older, fatter figures like me, so I applied.
Well actually, I practically begged and maybe even pleaded a little to be involved. “Pick me! Please pick me!”
I’ve learnt in life if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And sometimes, begging gets you over the line.
After being lovingly accepted, from apparently, hundreds of applicants, I realised that no, she didn’t need us to pose, she was actually going to paint us. All over our naked bodies.
And then have us—all 25 of us—naked, as her window display.
Ha! I was so exhilarated (and slightly frozen with fear) at the thought of what I had just volunteered my body for.
I am no real stranger to nudity and body positivity. It’s my thing. But this was a whole new level even for me.
I was once an artist’s model so I could have a breakthrough in accepting my body as it was. It worked. I began to love all of me—my curves, and my rolls, and all my fat and bulges and stretch marks and dimples.
It had been a few years since I had put my body where my mouth was…so to speak. I was definitely being put to the test here.
Being 54 and getting totally slapped in the face by menopause was a shock, and comes with a whole new array of wonderful things to learn to love.
Menobelly—even more pronounced love handles to love. And, menobrain—much like pregnancy brain, but worse. More like slight dementia, which apparently has you volunteer for crazy projects like you’re 21 again. (Seriously though, I would never have done this at 21).
Okay, so it’s a week out from the shoot and we have been added to a social media group so that all 25 of us could get to know each other before the day.
After reading a few messages in the group, it became glowingly clear to me that I was the oldest and—more than likely—the fattest of us all. (You just feel these things.)
I was way more scared than I was excited. What on earth had I gotten myself into?
However, underneath it all, my feminine, creative energy was rockin’ it in my sacral chakra. Swirling and moving and pounding from the inside of my womb, and pushing up toward my heart.
I knew I was doing the right thing. The right thing for me.
Self-love and body positivity is a process, a journey. I face challenges every day. It doesn’t happen all at once and it’s not easy. It takes practice and commitment.
My belly has always been my hidden haven, my shame spot. The one I work on. Not necessarily workout on, but the one I work on being okay with—with the way things are and the way they aren’t.
I have a fat belly that hangs over like a hard night on the carbs. I do not have a flat stomach with visible abs.
I was clear and proud that my hangy-over belly was responsible for carrying my two beautiful daughters. It’s covered in shiny silver streaks that are the result of my skin stretching to hold and grow my babies.
I have large breasts that are now a bit saggy. I love it all. I’m gorgeous and vivacious, and loving, and kind, and I believe in me.
It has taken 50 years to get to this point. I don’t want others to take that long.
It is so important to feel the exquisite effects of self-love.
I love my children because of who they are. I wouldn’t stop loving them if they put on weight or got pimples or had stretch marks or grew an extra toe. In fact, I have told them there is nothing they could do that would have me not love them.
I don’t stop loving my friends or my partner if they put on weight or do something silly or speak up.
So why on earth would I ever hate on me?
Why do we do that to ourselves? I would never speak to anyone the way I have been known to speak to myself, or the way I hear other women speak to themselves.
Yes, I hear you condemning yourselves and it breaks my heart.
Anything that gets me out of my head, promotes self-love, and empowers women—I’m in. Impacting just one human makes the fear and discomfort all worth it.
So, it was now only a few days out ’til the nudie shoot and I got really clear about something. I knew I owed it to my tribe to be there on this day—naked, covered in paint, standing in a window, jiggling my butt for the world to see.
I also knew I owed it to my daughters, so they never feel body shame. Mostly I owed it to me to celebrate my perfectly imperfect body.
Just as you owe it to you, and your tribe, and your children to step out of your comfort zones, feel into your feminine energy, own who you are.
The day was here.
Walking into a new shop. Never having met a single soul before. I spoke to a few of them in a chat group and that was it.
Sophie ran through the order of the day. She introduced us to the volunteers and asked who wanted to be first. It was like Sophie was calling me out with her eyes and before I knew it I was the first body standing in a cubicle. Kit off, arms in the air, laughing, and jiggling each time the cold paintbrush touched my bare skin.
It was scary as hell, especially because of the cute male photographer and the videographer peering over Sophie’s shoulder to get a close-up. (Did I forget to mention them?)
Honestly, I know I was smiling on the outside—I’m great at faking it ’til I make it—but on the inside, I was sweating, cringing, and possibly dying just a smidge.
All of a sudden it was over. And Sophie announced me to the onlooking crowd, including a few passersby who were peering in the shop window.
The whole shop roared and cheered and air-punched as I stepped into the camera lights, awaiting bulb flashes, as James, the photographer had me posing from all angles. Phew!
Then it was really over. For a few minutes anyway.
Until I realised that I was the only one naked in what seemed like a world of clothed people.
Then James wanted a photo of that too.
It didn’t take long ’til all the nudies were hanging out together waiting to dry— bonding, sharing words of encouragement, and generally being beautiful with each other.
We soon realised we were dry and yet had no desire to cover up.
We rocked our naked bodies for the rest of the day. One in, all in.
The fact is that I actually was the fattest by quite possibly 20 kg and the eldest by at least 20 years, but I hadn’t felt it at all. We were just 25 women all in this together.
We were all in that naked window display together and I felt proud and nurtured, honoured, fucking fabulous and totally respected by the most incredible bunch of amazing young women. I will never forget that day, ever.
As the end of the day grew closer, tears of joy appeared at the recognition of what we had accomplished. It became clear that had I allowed my fear to get in the way, I may have missed this once in a lifetime opportunity.
I couldn’t be more joyful or feel more extremely proud to be me right now.
So, do yourself, your kids, and your relationship a massive favour. Step out of your comfort zone. Life doesn’t happen inside them.
Step out onto those skinny branches and grab hold for your life—but keep stepping out. You just don’t realise how extraordinary life can be when you embrace your power.
Stand on the shoulders of women who have stepped out before you. Honour them, by loving you.
Love yourself for all the things you know you are and all the things you are not.
You are the one and only perfect you. There is no other.
You are it.
Love yourself just the way you are, so you can be whoever you want to be.
And a couple of photos from our shoot: