CW: Eating disorder, Body Image, Vague References to Trauma
For the last Kinktober post, things got pretty steamy in here. For this post, I’m actually going to change it up a bit and talk about how photography, specifically nude photography, has been really beneficial to my body image and mental health.
When I was a teenager, I was dangerously underweight and suffering from an eating disorder. As I imagine is usually true with these situations, it wasn’t about my body image at all. In fact, before I stopped eating, I had never really thought much about my body at all. It was there, I was there, we were fine with one another. But, there was trauma from long before, then a bad relationship that went ahead and created another round of trauma, thus awakening the older trauma. I was 16 and didn’t know how to handle any of it, so for some reason that seemed to make sense to me at the time, I stopped eating. It felt like control, during an era when I had none.
When I met Soren, I didn’t know that he would be my dominant. I only knew that I liked him, then that I loved him. He had no clue that those relationship roles existed. However, it didn’t take him long to recognize that I was hiding what I wasn’t eating, and that I wasn’t doing well. No one had ever given him any authority to make it right, he didn’t assert anything like dominance in any other way, but he told me on no uncertain terms that the deceptiveness, the skipping meals, and the fixation on keeping calories out of my dwindling body were not going to continue. It felt like control of a different sort, and I realized that I was okay with it.
Soren spent the next ten years feeding me candy, cookies, brownies. It was like he was making up for the punishments I had put my body through in our early years by indulging me. It felt like nurturing. It felt like love. Never again did I try to hide from him whether I was eating or not. My weight was never again dangerously low. However, since then, my weight has been higher than I would like.
At first, looking at pictures of myself made me feel worse – not better. Soren, however, was gently insistent that if I looked at myself enough, I would see what he sees in me, and I have found, over time, that he is right. The more I look at his carefully curated photos, always posed just right, shot just so – not hiding parts of me, just highlighting the right me, the more I learn to love what I see in the mirror.
If there is a diet or workout that has a book devoted to it, I’ve probably tried it. What I haven’t been able to get the knack of (and though I’m getting better, I’m honestly still not there) is how to love the body I’m in, right now. One thing that has really been helpful to getting me closer though is related to nude photos.
Often, when I have been successful at keeping up with a workout, Soren has encouraged and rewarded my progress (progress at sticking to the workout, rather than at losing weight) by taking sexy pictures with me. He’ll pose me thoughtfully, paying attention to the lighting, to the angles, capturing the side of me that brings out the beauty that he sees, making it easier for me to see it too. When I feel frustrated, like my body will never change, he pulls up the time lapse photos side by side, or even overlapping. “I can see muscle here in your arms that you didn’t have in this last photo.”
Another way that nude photos have been helpful to me involves nudes of other people. I’ve been learning about the way that society programs us to think that bigger women can’t be attractive. They hide us in baggy, unflattering clothing. In fact, in my 20s, I learned that many of the brands of clothing I wanted to buy chose not to make jeans or dresses in my size (or any size larger than an 8 or 10,) because I didn’t fit the image they wanted to see on their brand. I was literally too fat to give them my money.
In my mind, I internalized those women in movies and on television, hiding in unimportant roles, wearing ill-fitting, neutral-colored clothes. Enter sex-Twitter. When I started my first sex-blog, years ago, I started following some of the gorgeous creatures who sell their videos online. Seeing those bodies, sexy and naked, all shapes and sizes, and beautiful to my own eyes started to change the way I saw my own body. Seeing those naked bodies without all the trappings that society normally puts on bigger women made me realize that the problem isn’t with those bodies, it’s with all the social baggage that we’re so used to seeing.
If you have body issues, whatever they are, I recommend that you follow people who post nudes – all kinds of people who post nudes, but especially those who fit the bill in your own head for whatever brand of insecurities you harbor. The more you see them, just being their beautiful selves, working it like they have nothing to be ashamed of, you just might realize that you are just as beautiful.