Several posts ago, I linked a blog on tumblr created by a woman who shares nude images of herself for educational purposes, yet has a very grounded perspective on the human sexual impulse. She has also posted a fantastic demonstration of one of those fundamental truths about nude photography that we so easily take for granted: the fact that pictures of naked people (and professional non-nudes, as well) are posed for maximum aesthetic effect, and that they do not represent reality (at least not the full spectrum of reality).
"I just feel called to point out that a body that looks so 'sexy' or
'slender' or 'desirable' in one picture, can look squishy, vulnerable
and saggy in the next just by letting go of a pose."
I think this probably contributes to a lot of body image disorders, as a lot of people compare themselves to the perfectly toned and styled (and frequently photoshopped) images of celebrities and supermodels in popular media, and have no hope of matching up. I think this is also one of those social ills that nudism can cure, because being surrounded by real naked bodies in everyday situations gives you a more realistic idea of what people's naked bodies are supposed to look like. If tabloid photos are any indication, even celebrities and supermodels don't look like Greek statues 24/7!
So in the spirit of baretobush's revelation concerning this truth about beauty, I present to you two pictures of me taken only days apart. The first one is carefully posed with my back stretched out and my tummy sucked in, in order to accentuate my body in the best way possible - as I have learned to do from years of modeling - and the second one is me fully relaxed, even slouched a little bit, after a delicious meal at my favorite Mexican restaurant. It may be hard to believe that these two pictures are of the same person within a very narrow frame of time (less than a week), but that's all part of the flexibility of the human body.
Sometimes when I look at photos I take of myself, I am genuinely surprised at how good I look. It's not that I don't realize how attractive I am - years of feedback from my modeling has ensured that - but I'm not the most attractive person on the planet, either - I'm somewhere in the middle. Which is to say that I may not be a supermodel, but I do have some features that I can be proud to flaunt. But there is an immediacy to every person that you can't always capture in a photograph; and in real life, the good angles come along with the bad ones.
I shoot the good angles because I'm an artist primarily concerned with aesthetics. But I have enough of an interest in truth not to try to pretend that what you see in my photographs is the whole story. I find it amusing to consider how my audience must imagine me, always seeing [mostly] my best angles. They probably have an inflated sense of my attractiveness, much like the girl you meet on a dating website who looks a lot younger and skinnier and prettier in the pictures on her profile than she does in person.
That's just human nature - I'm not knocking it. I participate in it enthusiastically, of course. But if any of my fans think I'm the sort of physical god who never has to worry about how I look in a swimsuit (for example), they'd be wrong. I still think it's amusing that I overheard one guy at Burning Man say after looking at me, "some people just don't look good naked". You know - when other people have told me that I look so good naked, that it's a crime for society to force me to wear clothes.
Obviously, taste needs to be accounted for. But I do wish I was the super hot hunk in the first picture 24/7, and not only when I'm specifically posing myself in a certain, unnatural way. If I looked like this all the time, then all the girls would be turning their heads at the pool, and I wouldn't have to be self-conscious about those few extra pounds that round me out a little more than I would like. But at the same time, my nudist background insists that it's not all about how you look, it's about how you feel.
I want to look hot in that bikini, yes - I don't want to embarrass myself. But that's mostly society whispering in my ear. In truth, I want to wear that bikini because it feels great to wear it, even if I'm not a size zero. I saw a girl at the park the other day wearing short shorts and a rolled up shirt (it was fricking hot out), and I don't know how to say this without sounding insensitive, but she had fat rolls hanging out all over the place. Most people would criticize her for her appearance, but you know what? I admire her. She genuinely seemed to be having a good time, and was unselfconscious about her appearance, and that fucking rocks.
Society tells you to dress for the body you have, not the body you want, but I think you should wear whatever the hell you want to. My roommate asks me why I keep buying mini-dresses with tight skirts if I can't wear them (because they emphasize my bulge), and the answer is because I think they're sexy and I want to live in a world where I can wear them and not worry about always passing, and having to pass up on certain types of clothing just because I don't have the body I wish I was born with.
I think that we're probably evolutionarily adapted to want to be attractive to the opposite sex (or whomever it is we're attracted to), but physical beauty is not the end-all be-all of attraction, and besides, that's not all there is to life. Every guy likes looking at supermodels, but not every girl has to be a supermodel. And the girls who aren't supermodels shouldn't have to measure themselves against supermodel standards. Admire the girl with the hot ass in short shorts, but if a girl with an ass you don't think is hot wears short shorts, then just leave her be.
She doesn't have to cover herself up in a burqa and internalize a sense of body shame just because she doesn't live up to your (arbitrary) standards of physical beauty. Maybe it's just human nature to cut everyone else down, but I get annoyed at the thought of anybody criticizing and shaming somebody else for being confident and comfortable in their own skin. That's the kind of shit that encourages people to be miserable just because they don't live up to impossible standards of perfection.
Well, I prefer the nudist ethos that reassures us that we can all be comfortable in our own skins, and that we are all capable of treating each other with dignity and respect, regardless of the way our bodies look. That doesn't mean we have to pretend that beauty isn't important, or valuable, and it doesn't mean that we're not allowed to celebrate or strive for it. But beauty is an ideal, not a requirement for living a full and fun life. So if you can be beautiful, go for it. But if not, don't sweat it. The world can still be a beautiful place to live in.