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The other evening I was chatting with my friends, and we started discussing nudes. Not necessarily sending nudes but taking them, capturing our bodies in a photo at its most vulnerable state. People tend to speak shamefully about nudes or anything regarding nakedness as if it is wrong to celebrate one’s own body. We continued to discuss what makes us feel most sexy and a few of us said when we take nudes. We then began to show each other our nudes. There was no awkwardness, no tension, no judgment. Just a room of woman celebrating and admiring each other’s bodies and that is how it should be.

The woman’s body is hyper-sexualized in so many ways through media and literature, is controlled through politics, and is shamed through many religions. It is not news that a woman’s body is continuously being discussed by everyone. Everyone has an opinion on bodies and all things that have to do with it. Let’s admit it; society is obsessed, always showing interest in the bodies of women. Well, it’s time that others stop talking about it negatively and for women to celebrate their bodies.

I know I am not alone when I say that I have a bunch of nude photos or “naughty photos” of myself hidden in some photo vault. They’re not really there to be shared with anyone else, but only for myself. I take them merely because it makes me feel good. People struggle with body image more than we acknowledge. Like many people, there was a point where I was really unhappy in the skin  I was in. A lot of it had to do with me comparing myself to the standards set by the people around me. I hated all my stretch marks growing up, but now I run my fingers over them feeling how deeply carved they are into my skin, and I’m impressed. I don’t always take nudes, but when I do it is never sexualized because they are for me. It is truly like looking at art because I don’t look back at those photos the way  I look at myself every other day. It allows me to look at myself from a different perspective. A lens that can quickly become sexualized if shared with the rest of the world but remaining empowered because it is made by me, for me, and because of me. Our bodies are rarely celebrated without being sexualized, perhaps through pregnancy and childbearing but that may be the only exception, and even that is fetishized to some extent.

Everyone should celebrate their bodies, not just women. Celebrate it because no one else will, not as you can. We have all had our inner battles with ourselves over our bodies. Heavily criticizing our cellulite, fat rolls, stretch marks, body hair, and scars, our “enemies” living very visibly on the surface of our skin. You try to hide them on a typical day, but for a moment, you can embrace them. Through nudes, you take every little bit of your hated imperfections that are very much a part of you and create something that can liberate you. It comes together to create a simple photograph that breaks through how society tells you to feel about your skin.

Jahaira is a double major in Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies and a campus correspondent for the Her Campus chapter at Wells College. 
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