Naked and Unashamed

We all know that moment. For myself, *the* moment came early in my teenage years and has continued through to my early twenties. It’s that split-second realization that the person you’re talking to or interested in is more interested in seeing your body than your soul. If you have never received the “send nudes?” message, consider yourself lucky, as for those of us who have—we know the uncomfortable position this question can put a person in.

While I have gotten better at shutting down the people asking, I have also found that taking nudes or risqué photos of myself has become an extremely empowering act in regards to how I view and appreciate my own body. I have found that when you start taking photos of yourself—for yourself—you quickly learn how to find and recognize the things you personally like about your body rather than worrying about anyone else’s opinions. As someone who continues to struggle with their weight and self esteem, learning how to love my body is an ongoing uphill battle and taking nudes is only one part of my puzzle. What is important to remember, despite being personally encouraged by my puzzle’s outcomes, there is still a stigma that surrounds the idea of nude photos.

If it is as an act of empowerment for many people, then why is taking photos of your own body and sharing them consensually with others considered slutty?

The easiest answers to that question are the stereotypical ones: that sending nudes labels you as easy, vulnerable or lacking in self-respect, that taking nudes makes you appear attention-seeking, overly promiscuous, or unintelligent, and lastly that those who take nudes seek others’ approval in order to be confident in themselves. I have been called and accused of every single adjective listed above. The sad truth of it all is that I—and most others—who engage in taking naked photos are none of those things.

Taking nude photos has encouraged me to appreciate my body and has opened my eyes to my own sexuality. After years of simply pleasing others without question, focussing on my own sexual desires has introduced a new level of self-love that had ceased to exist in my life until this point.

As I pose in the mirror and allow my iPhone camera to capture the silhouette of my body, I often stare at the skin and bones I once called a prison and, for the first time in forever, feel as though I am home.

Which is why you do not get to call me a slut. I make no apologies for how I have learned to love myself.

Send nudes? Maybe.

Take nudes? Absolutely.

          Photo courtesy of Melanie Elizabeth 

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