Me, MomSelf and I

Life's journey is full of twists and turns and sometimes we get lost. This is my journey to rediscover myself.

Why I Posed Nude

9 Comments

I am a mom. What that means is that 3 different times, I was poked and prodded by strangers in my most intimate parts. Three different times at the end of each pregnancy I had more strokes of creation added to my hips and stomach. And three different times, my breast got pulled down further and further. Suffice it to say that after 3 pregnancies, my body has gone through some pretty intense changes. (Not to mention the weight gain.) When you become a mom, it’s pretty standard for the world and us to look at our bodies as “disgusting” because they do not reflect society’s definition of beautiful. Magazine cover after magazine cover displays thin, Caucasian women, as well as TV and Hollywood. For the most part if I want to see someone who looks like me, I have to purchase a specialty magazine, either one directed at Black women, or a plus-sized issue. So its pretty easy to get sucked into believing that my current body should be covered up at all times. “Nobody wants to see that!” And I make a conscious effort not to criticize my body in front of my daughter because the last thing I need is for her to inherit my body issues. So when I saw a facebook post recruiting women to pose nude in Cleveland as an art action against the Republican National Convention, I thought, I need to do this! What better way to show myself that I have nothing to be ashamed of, than to disrobe in front of strangers for a photograph that will forever be etched in history?

Initially though, I was drawn to the message of the art installation. For Everything She Says Means Everything, artist Spencer Tunick, who says his wife came up with the copy for the website, describes the piece this way:

“The photograph involved 100 nude women holding large mirror discs, reflecting the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women and the concept of “Mother Nature” into and onto the convention center, cityscape and horizon of Cleveland. The philosophy of the artwork relates to the idea of the sacred feminine. By holding mirrors, we hope to suggest that women are a reflection and embodiment of nature, the sun, the sky and the land. We want to express the belief that we will rely upon the strength, intuition and wisdom of progressive and enlightened women to find our place in nature and to regain the balance within it. The mirrors communicate that we are a reflection of ourselves, each other, and of, the world that surrounds us. The woman becomes the future and the future becomes the woman.

The experience of the individual posing in a mass group nude art installation is as varied as the body types that exist within the works. Everyone has their own experience and story that they bring to the moment and the story and interactivity is always a subtext of the work at large. Spencer’s art provides a unique opportunity for artists and non-artists alike to take part in the creation of a contemporary work of installation/performance art and to become the medium itself. The way in which the participants take part in this collective artwork has a transformational effect both on the individual and the collective.”

I read that and thought about my own experience as a woman and how I rarely give myself the credit I deserve, as a creator of life, as an intelligent being, as a force of nature. The things my body has shown me its capable of is something to be celebrated! My contribution to the arts, my community, my family, my womanhood, my blackness, this world should never be diminished, by myself or anyone. Women all through history have sacrificed themselves and their bodies for the betterment of others. The saying, “behind every great man, is a great woman” didn’t come from nothing. We are the epitome of strength. We are the catalyst for growth, change, and a higher society. Women are Everything!!!

So why is it that whenever a woman is raped, the narrative becomes about what she did to deserve it? Why is it still a fact that women don’t earn as much as men for doing the same exact job? Why is it women continue to be punished for taking time off work to raise children? Why is it that only men are allowed to determine who and when we  take our clothes off? Why is it men who decide what we can do with our bodies regarding our access to birth control and decisions about whether we should bring a life into being or not?

As a collective, we MUST recognize our power. We must stand up for each other and stop judging and tearing each other down. The best part about being in a field with 130 naked women was the solidarity we had. There were people who were bigger and smaller and darker and lighter and taller and shorter and hairier and smoother and none of it mattered. What mattered was in our rawest, purest form, we were all women in spirit and in force and we sent that message and that positive energy out into the universe. Did you hear it?

Author: MomSelf

I reflect on being a working mother, wife, daughter, friend, advocate, and sometimes lost self, striving to become the best me and creating an extraordinary life for those I love, while making the world a better place. You can find my other writings on WISHCleveland.com.

9 thoughts on “Why I Posed Nude

  1. I posed for Spencer’s first Cleveland shoot, I was just over 40, had given birth to my 4th child and doing everything for those I loved. The experience was for me! And how your beautiful letter stated hopefully for my three daughters. Self love is an amazing thing but in our society can be allusive for women. Love your spirit and reflective thoughts. My experience was very freeing and also trusting. It was co-ed and I will admit I was a bit apprehensive. But I trusted everyone there to be polite and respectful and they were.

    • Thank you! I really do believe that a certain boldness kicks in our 40s. I agree that there was a sense of freedom in being exposed, and a sense of trust that it would all be okay. I’m grateful to Spencer for providing an opportunity for us to experience this!

      • Hey girl friend. I am so dang proud of you. I am 42 yr old black female, and I too read the call for women to pose. I was out of town but would have done it if there. I find what you did to be amazing. Too many times, I find that black women don’t believe their raw bodies are worthy. Yes it is and yes we are. I saw a couple of pics and saw that several black women showed up and posed. Whey to go. I’m a nurse and see bodies of all races, sizes and shapes….its all good.

        I will admit, i would have had to shave to be in that crowd. I noticed many of my sisters were shaven totally bare….wa that just the images or did u notice it too. Did you shave totally bare to attend the shoot?

        Shannon

      • Thanks for your comment Shannon! I know for me, I have felt like as a black mother, if I don’t look like Beyonce then I’m a failure. And I realized I have to stop that! I will admit that I was waxed from top to bottom, but just because that’s my preference. But there was a variety in hair represented, which I appreciated!

  2. I so thank you for our honesty. I need to try waxing. My preference is all bare too. I feel cleaner and a bit sexier. Some of my friends say it makes them feel wierd to be all bare. As a nurse I see it all and often wonder what drives such preferences. I hope I dont sound wierd, but what just curios what you saw more of amongst the group?

    • I really can’t say what I saw more of, since I was really focusing on being in the moment and wanting to just connect with my inner emotions anout it.

  3. Pingback: Women Marching for Women | Me, MomSelf and I

  4. What fun and what a wonderful experience, not to mention, a great memory to have!

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