When I agreed to pose for a friend’s photography project sans clothes, my first thought was, “well, there goes my future.” He had given me a few days to think about it, and for the most part it did occupy my mind.
It’s a very hard choice to have to make. On one hand, naked pictures that make their way onto the Internet one way or another could mean losing a job, not being considered for a job, and public ridicule. On the other, why should I ever feel ashamed for having a human body just like anybody else?
If I hadn’t seen Danish journalist Emma Holten’s empowering response to having naked pictures of herself leaked onto the Internet, I might not have gone through with taking the pictures. She raises a wonderful and overlooked point that there is a big difference between pictures that you didn’t wish for anyone to see and pictures that you choose to release in celebration of your own body. Her video can be found on The Guardian’s website.
It was the first cold day after two weeks of spring temperatures, and I cursed under my breath on the walk to my friend’s apartment about how I should have worn a bra. For about a half hour, we sat and talked about the weather, live music, politics, anything.
There’s something that is oddly restrictive about taking off your clothes in front of somebody else. We’re taught from a very young age that parts of our body are “private,” and that it’s lewd to be naked in front of anybody who you aren’t going to be intimate with. Whose choice was it to call nudity immoral?
Other than a mid-photoshoot nachos break, there was nothing particularly special about taking the pictures. After the initial shock of getting undressed, we spent the afternoon laughing and coming up with artistic concepts for pictures. It didn’t really matter that I wasn’t wearing clothes. I’ve never felt better about my body than when I felt like I wasn’t hiding anything.
After we had finished taking pictures, we went through some of the shots and laughed over ones where I was making weird faces and checked for any that I wouldn’t be okay with being shared. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a single one that I vetoed.
I’m not making any statement on naked pictures that are pornographic in nature, since sex seems to be something that a mass amount of people aren’t comfortable talking about yet, but it’s time to reassess how our culture looks at the naked human body. We shouldn’t be ashamed of parts of our body anymore.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I might face some level of public ridicule and that a future boss can choose to fire me for making an “inappropriate decision,” but that doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m comfortable with my body, and after taking the pictures I feel better than ever about who I am.