Today is my birthday. The day I turn 26.
And this time last year my life completely changed.
I got naked, had a photo shoot and shared the images on the internet.
In the hope that maybe I could shake the self-doubt I’d carried for years. I explained how I’d struggled with body confidence my whole adult life, that getting fully naked in front of anyone, especially a man, was absolutely never going to happen. That I battled to keep weight on, not for lack of trying – and constantly felt self-conscious because of it. That I felt ugly and ashamed of my body. That I was bullied when I was younger, called anorexic and bulimic – why did people think it was okay to ask me things like: ‘are you a boy?’ ‘where are your boobs?’. And that finally, that photo shoot? Was the start of a new, much happier chapter of my life.
Sharing the photos on here was the final part of the process and I was totally overwhelmed with how incredibly supportive every single person was. Sharing something so personal with anyone, let alone the internet is seriously scary – and the fact that not one person said anything negative made me so happy. For one reason only – it meant people agreed with what I was trying to say:
We only get one body and we’ve simply got to love it. No matter our personal qualms with it.
I received floods of emails with thank-you’s and a few readers went on to do their own shoots with Alex too, which is seriously amazing.
Doing another shoot with Alex a year later seemed like the best way to celebrate how far I’ve come with feeling comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to document the process and prove to myself that the original photos weren’t a temporary fix, they’ve totally changed how I feel about my body in a permanent way and I wanted to see if that showed in the images.
|WHAT I’M WEARING: Levi’s Shirt Similar, Calvin Klein Briefs, Agent Provocateur Set in the SALE: Agent Provocateur Bra, Agent Provocateur Knickers, Agent Provocateur Suspender Belt. Stockings Similar|
I remember doing the first shoot and thinking the entire time ‘HOW DO I EVEN MOVE MY BODY?’ But back then, the point was that I was doing it to accept myself, feel comfortable and now I have, now I do, I feel like I could take on anything.
It’s not about being obviously sexy. It’s about being able to put on your favourite set of lingerie and feel wonderful, because when you feel good it shows. It’s forgetting that your boobs aren’t more than a handful, that your tummy has that pouch that droops when you sit on your side. That your birthmark can sometimes look like you’ve wiped your bum in the worst way and have poo on your leg (that’s not the case, btw).
It’s remembering that we are what we feel.
And that means we can be whatever we want to be.
We don’t have to be perfect – whatever that is. Heck, doing this doesn’t mean I now think I’m the hottest piece of ass that ever lived. I still wish things were a little different. But the difference is I’m now at peace with those hang ups. I feel comfortable. In control.
Like I can be sexy, maybe? And that maybe other people could look at me and think that too.
Is the best feeling in the world.
When I look at both sets of photographs I can see the emotions I felt playing on my face.
The first (see here) are vulnerable, scared to shit, but in the best possible way. Because I realise I’m actually doing it, I’m really getting naked and I’m not feeling horrific about it. A weird mixture of adrenalin, anxiety, pride and happiness.
The second: guys I felt so strong. Those nerves were still there, because ‘HELLO it’s been a year since I got naked on a camera and that’s still a huge deal’, but as soon as Alex started snapping away I felt myself melt in to the mattress with a sense of calm. I wasn’t worried, it felt fluid and liberating and exciting.
I’ve tried to explain to everyone I know what a huge difference this experience made to my life last year but it doesn’t matter what you say – you can’t really know until you try it yourself. But I do think these photos are a great way to show that my confidence just keeps growing, that it gave me the balls to walk away from toxic things in my life, start fresh with people who really care about me, to feel comfortable getting naked, to see myself in a different way, to not feel self-conscious when I’m getting changed in front of my girls or having sex at times that aren’t just pitch black under the covers. And it’s not all about the nakedness either, it’s how it’s adjusted my mind-set, made me feel more capable. I’ve made new friends, found myself in a new relationship with someone seriously incredible, quit my job to go travelling and then try my hand at blogging full-time – and a big part of that new found confidence is down to that shoot. It’s given me self-belief and determination to not let myself or anyone else change my mind.
So here we are, then. A year on.
And I feel as great now as I did on July 3rd last year, reading all your kind comments.
(yeah even you ;-))