Growing up, my route to school was lined with billboards full of bikini-clad women. A childhood friend posed on the cover of Playboy, my mother was a model with beauty queen best friends. I grew up surrounded by attractive women, wanting only to be pretty like them.
For years, I struggled against my body; never did I hate anything or anyone so much. But last year, I volunteered as a rope bondage model for a friend as a concrete step towards loving myself. Since then, she’s brought me to shoots and live performances, each time with more people seeing me undressed. Each time making me bolder.
The morning after my most difficult shoot, I posted a photo of it online. There I was: bathed in harsh studio lights as I laid suspended in the air. It wasn’t an attempt to get approval from others—it is proof that, finally, I approved of myself. My body is worthy, whole, beautiful.
A few hours after the post went up, Facebook notified me that someone had reported it for nudity.
It was expected; it’s happened before. No one knows what to do with someone who steps so proudly outside the concept of modesty. Of course my naked body, the one that I’ve learned to accept, would be sexualized and shamed—just like millions of others are every day.
We live in a world that both loves and despises women’s bodies. We’re either covered too much or not enough; we’re only desirable on other people’s terms.
These photos are my response to a society that tells me my breasts or stomach or hips don’t look like they should. There’s freedom in baring it all, standing raw before the world, and still feeling beautiful. I’m not brave—it’s not courage as much as it’s comfort in the skin we’re taught to reject. But the more we allow ourselves to enjoy our own nakedness, the less we allow other people to control our bodies and how we view them.
After dozens of posts with varying degrees of nudity, what I ultimately want to achieve is indifference. Let no nipple be more sensationalized than a selfie! My body is not rude, nor shocking, nor sexed. My body just is. It is imperfect but proud. And it will be on Facebook. Not for you, but for myself.