Welcome to Project Naked

Project Naked is a safe space for women and non-binary people to speak about the stories of their bodies. We want to rebel against the voices that tell us we’re not good enough and then shame us for believing it. We want to share the real stories of our bodies, from the painful to the joyful.

We want this to be an inclusive space for all women and non-binary people to share their stories and speak out against gender-based oppression of our bodies. We want to be as inclusive as possible here so we’re always open to feedback about how we could be doing better at sharing more voices.

If you would like to send us a story, an experience, a photo, a poem, a rant… then we would love to hear from you. We will put up all submissions body related – positive, negative, long or short.

Every body has a story. What’s yours?

Submit your story using this contact form, or using the details below.

Or email us at projectnaked@gmail.com – let us know if you prefer to be anonymous, or if you have a blog you’d like us to link to.

You can also contact us on Twitter and follow us on instagram @project_naked

Aisha Mirza -Fuck me or Destroy Me

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Aisha Mirza is an artist, writer and activist who’s expansive work looks at issues around body hair, race, queerness and mental health. Her short film Fuck Me or Destroy Me follows the striking Harnaam Kaur as she walks around the streets of London.

Words about the short-film by creator and directer Aisha Mirza  “I suppose at the heart of this film is an exploration of western body hair norms – how strange and oppressive they are, particularly for queer and trans people of colour whose bodies are already targeted, examined and laid thick with expectation from so many places. I am interested in how we all find moments of agency in this mess and in the false liberation of Harnaam Kaur. How she works so hard to reject and restructure societal oppression, and is defined by her otherness. How her extraordinary personhood is so informed by something that never should have been extraordinary. How her story is imagined for the white gaze. How she feels when everyone is looking. How she feels when no-one is looking. How she looks back.”

Watch the  video here Fuck Me or Destroy Me feat Harnaam Kaur as unfortunately I could not embed the video.

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Sarah Hester – Naked in the Woods

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This incredible photography project by Sarah Hester brought women together in a raw and candid way to unleash their inner Goddess and be shot Naked in the Woods.
I came across some of her photographs and the brutally honest and heartfelt accounts spoken about the experience, and felt it had to be shared (with permission!)

The following extracts are copied from her blog —

“I approached a local group about doing a shoot naked in the woods. I made it clear that there wouldn’t be makeup or clothes or any editing done to their bodies.  The idea was well received. VERY well received. Within a few days I had a group of nearly 100 willing to participate in the project. My visions for the project was to show what people really look like. To show how beautiful our bodies are without help from cosmetics or photoshop. Real life. Gritty and raw.

As the days counted down to the event the group numbers dwindled. We ended up with 16 amazing mothers who gathered in the woods for an all naked shoot. What I witnessed that day was wonderful, inspiring and absolutely beautiful! Here are some of the images and a few quotes from the those that participated.” SH

 “Following along with a bit of my own reflections from yesterday. Body positivity didn’t become an active part of my life journey until motherhood. I wish I can say I implemented it successfully, but much of it has been trial and error met with pain and reluctant growth. In the last decade, my body has grown five little humans; endured the waves of fad diets, over exercising, and exhaustion; overcome the physical symptoms of mental, emotional, and sexual abuse; and, continues to adapt from the misconceptions of societal expectations and postpartum hormones. Being human is difficult, but raising humans is the most stressful, overwhelming, selfless yet equally rewarding part of existence. Somewhere along the path I realized that in all my effort to give my children a positive body image, I had forgotten how to love myself and provide the ultimate example. The thought of being naked in the woods with other women immediately spoke to my soul and brought much excitement, but on this day, life got hard. My ability to cope faded fast, and the day I had been looking forward to became an effort that I wasn’t sure I could acquire. In an emotional state of isolation, I could have easily stayed home but something pulled my spirit to my tribe; a place where social anxiety couldn’t survive and my soul was instantly recharged. It was an oddy natural experience that made me embrace who I am and give myself in ways that made me happy. My body has been put through the wringer, my mental and emotional health has been a battle, but I can truly say this experience affirms I’m happy and comfortable as I am, in my body. This life journey is a continuous strive for understanding and growth. Being amongst so many beautifully fierce and passionate women ignited hope that one day my physical appearance will not only be a positive representation of how I feel about myself, but my ability to care for myself as well as I care for others. Until then, thank you all for reminding me what it means to love and be raw without any inhibitions in every season of life.” – D

“Yesterday was the first time I’ve truly begun to love my postpartum body. I had come to be comfortable with self hatred which is why I was OK with doing this. (Doesn’t make sense, I know… But it was my reasoning.) While I know that I have room to improve my health, I am now pursuing health because I love my body and not because I hate it. Thank you all for sharing your vulnerability and making this happen. You all have inspired me with your confidence and the support you offer your fellow beings. Thanks especially to Sarah and her helpers for their time and effort to put this together for us. My life is changed because of you!” – A

“I love everyone, and I love all bodies. I am fairly comfortable with every body type! I have touched over 550 naked (or nearly naked) people in the last year because of my job. One thing that my job as a massage therapist has taught me is that: our bodies are all beautiful because they sustain our life, and house our souls. Even though we all look so very different we are all kinda the same! I hope this photoshoot goes insane viral, because I want all the people around the world to know what women look like. Real women, raw, untouched, and beautiful! I am so happy to have had this opportunity to do this with you all!” – B

“I’m a ball of emotions today. The photo shoot was lovely and everything I had hoped it would be. I’m so honored to have stood next to such sweet, loving, fierce, empowered people. And of course, Sarah has done an amazing job with the photos.
I’m going to be very honest and tell you that I’m so unhappy with how I look right now. Partially, I was unaware at how much weight I’ve gained. I’m actually shocked at what I look like. Having 2 babies in 2 years at 35&37 has taken a toll on me but I didn’t realize I allowed myself to gain so much weight. I don’t weigh myself and l haven’t had a full length mirror in over a year. I’m glad I did the shoot, but mad at myself for not taking better care of my body. I’ve given my kids and family all of myself and failed to save a piece for me.
Seeing all of this has made me sad, but also angry/determined to change things. I turn 40 in a few months and do not want to drag this weight into a new decade with me. So, thank you for the beauty of last night but also, the awareness to be healthy for myself again. 💜” – D

“All my life I was skinny, like I couldn’t even given blood in high school blood drives because I didn’t weigh enough and was a part of the itty bitty titty committee. Guys were always easier to talk to and hang out with cause I knew I wasn’t going to judged. I wanted to gain weight and have bigger boobs. I work at a pool during the summers and would literally eat snickers and Cheetos with nacho cheese all day long. Nothing.
When I got pregnant with my son, I gained over 40 pounds. I was bigger than I ever was and I don’t want to be. However, I gained 1 stretch mark on my tummy and all the rest on my boobs. They were huge! I went from a small B to a large DD. We struggled at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey but eventually made it to 15 months. I lost 30 pounds and was ok but not ok with my body. I learned to live with it.
Between the years of having my son and getting pregnant with my daughter, I lost a baby each year. The first was unsuspecting to us and I honestly wasn’t ready to have 2 under 2. Then I lost the baby and it hurt and hurt to have to re-tell everyone. There was no explanation as to why. That is when I very slowly started my journey to being healthier. The next year my husband and I took a motorcycle ride with friends. On our way home we had a wreck. He purposely threw me from the bike so I wouldn’t get hurt any worse. I ended up in a thorn bush and had blacked out. A week later I found out I was pregnant. This time we were ready, but because of the previous year we didn’t tell anyone. Two weeks later, I was going through a miscarriage. I literally hurt and my husband hurt worse than I because we both knew it was because of the motorcycle accident. I to ease my mind I trained and ran 2 5k runs. It helped so much. For the first time in my life I began to love to just run or walk.
The next year I became pregnant with my rainbow baby. I vowed to myself to not gain so much because I wanted to be healthier and more fit. I succeeded, I only gained 19.5 pounds. We were both happy and healthy. Through the next 2 years I was happy and learning to love that my body was ok and housed 4 humans even if for a short time. Then, I started to not feel like myself. I started gaining weight, I was tired, I was sad, I was depressed, i began hating how I looked again. I was nothing that was the normal for me. I finally went to a doctor and found out I had an autoimmune thyroid disease. It’s been a long year of healing and changing everything.
I am still not completely happy with my body and I was even more nervous for this photo shoot with a bunch of other women. Women scare me, because I know how judgey they can be. I was late getting to the location and when I walked up everyone was naked already. I thought I made a mistake, I was nervous but I pushed through it and quietly took my clothes off and sat down trying not to make a scene. My confidences was stripped with my clothes, but by the end of the shoot I had gained it back and was inspired to see how everyone was exuding confidence as if nothing was wrong. Thank you all!” – S

“I am not entirely sure how to start this out.. I have written, erased, and rewritten my words over and over and every time they still feel clumsy and rambling, but nevertheless- here we go!
When I saw Sarah post about this project I felt an immediate calling to be a part of it. I’m not sure where this urge came from because I am pretty much a hermit, my social anxiety makes me feel awkward and out of place in basically every situation, so I usually avoid group outings at any cost! In addition to that, I have not been at all happy or comfortable in my skin since I gave birth to my daughter in 2010. Before getting pregnant I was in decent shape, I danced ballet for many years as a child and into early adulthood. When I stopped dancing I had somewhat maintained my body- though I was completely unhealthy in my habits. These unhealthy habits, coupled with pregnancy depression caused a 100+ pound weight gain. My new body never felt right to me, I was completely uncomfortable with the marsupial pouch and pendulous breasts I developed. My body didn’t ‘bounce back’ because even after 6 years, and another baby, I never lost the original baby weight. Even before the weight gain I have never really had a positive body image so one can imagine what an extra 100 pounds did for my self esteem. Instead of looking at the miracles my body had created, and nourished, all I could see was the industry standard ‘fat, and ugly.’ I have started the slow and steady journey to get healthy in body- but most importantly in my mind. I think that is the main reason I wanted to do this project- I need to start being my loudest cheerleader, instead of my worst critic.
I’m not sure what I expected to get out of this experience. Half of me was filled with excitement, and the other half was completely terrified of the idea. I spoke with my family about it and received surprisingly positive feedback. I began to evaluate my insecurities. I worried about seeing the juxtaposition of my shape next to women way more beautiful.. I didn’t expect to feel like Cinderella, suddenly transformed into a beautiful butterfly.. But I hoped that seeing the differences and similarities might help me, and other women, stop being so critical. When I look at other women I always see their beauty- why can’t I look at myself in the same light?
Now having participated I can’t say that I am in love with my current form, but having interacted with so many women it has helped tremendously for me to see we all have essentially the same insecurities. Seeing women, who in my eyes are amazingly gorgeous, and hearing they are uncomfortable or unhappy with parts of themselves too has helped me realize that I am not alone and to come to terms with my own unrealistic and self depreciating feelings.
I’m a work in progress, and I am taking steps to be healthy, and lose weight in the process. I’m immensely proud of being able to push passed my insecurities, push passed my intense social anxiety, and let myself be completely vulnerable in front of so many strangers. This has helped me be able to see myself as (I hope) others might- not with criticism, but with love and appreciation.” – K

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This adventure has really inspired us at PN and we are so thrilled to share it with you. Please check out Sarah’s website to see her beautiful photography and more shots from this awe-inspiring series. A Body Positive Experience

Frances Cannon – illustrator and SELF LOVE CLUB innovator

Frances Cannon is shaking up Instagram with her illustrations that advocate positive vibes and self-love in a down to earth and relatable fashion. Her work looks at the female body and relationships with a strong message around our personal worth and respect.

Her simple and delicate drawings make the important and compelling point that we should love and respect ourselves, our bodies and each other – with messages such as “you are enough” and “I am complete” (things that we don’t always believe in and sometimes need reminding of!) It is so important that there are artists out there that create art that people can relate to and find solace in the fact that, yeah sometimes we feel shit but we are capable and we have a support network around us.

I particularly love her development of the SELF LOVE CLUB

CLUB RULES (words by Frances)

  • You must always show yourself respect, love, forgiveness and understanding
  • You must show each other respect, love, forgiveness and understanding
  • You must be kind to your body and you must take care of your mental health

I wholeheartedly agree with these simple yet potent rules and here at Project Naked we stand by her principles – a little bit of self-love goes a long way!

So here are some of her sweet as illustrations (shared with permission) and give her a follow on Instagram @frances_cannon for some daily positive vibes. Oh and P.S!!! You can get one of her designs as a tattoo !! —> http://francescannon.bigcartel.com/category/tattoo-ticket

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Radical Bodies

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The embroidery series Radical Bodies is taking up the issue of beauty ideal in modern society.

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I was struggling with my body image my whole life and whenever I saw pictures of the ideal women, that I will never be, I felt worthless and insecure. A few years ago I discovered the internet movement of bodypositivity. I felt so happy that some of my sisters* didn’t submit to the bodyshaming beauty standards of the modern world. They encouraged me to be proud of who I am. It’s not just about fat girls wearing plus size dresses and looking cute in it. It’s more like a selflove campaign. It’s for all human beings that feel excluded from the society because their bodies are different. For everybody who feels uncomfortable in their own skin. It’s about encouraging each other and stop hating on each other.

That’s a thing I want to work…

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How I Learned to See Myself as a Work of Art

Body image is not something I have had trouble with for a long time and I would love to share my story of how I learned to be at peace with the way I look. I’ve successfully helped a few of my girlfriends to like their bodies a little more and to stop over scrutinising themselves, so my goal is to impart this onto the wider internet community.

When I was at art school the most valuable thing I learned was how to mediate your own terrible self criticism and censorship. So many times artists create a piece of art, whether drawing or painting, or even a piece of writing, only to destroy it before anyone sees it because they have convinced themselves it is atrocious. I call it tortured artist syndrome, and I know it is rife. It prevents many a budding artist from even trying. When the thing you create is not as perfect as it appeared in your mind’s eye it leads to dissatisfaction, disappointment and, too often, destruction of the creative endeavour entirely.

As a tentative and youthful art student I was reminded that ability to draw is a talent you are lucky to possess, honed and improved usually over many many years. Most people can barely draw at all, so when they look at the work of an artist it looks incredible to them. They cannot fathom having such skill. When we critically examine our own work, it is difficult to remain objective for we have been so closely and intimately involved in each millimetre of pencil laid down on our sketchbooks. Any flaws stand out as if they are drawn in red pen and triple highlighted. But that is only because we are so closely involved with what we have made. A casual observer sees the whole picture, and is so awed by the incredible end product of a skill so coveted and envied that they do not see the flaws. Even if you insist on pointing them out, they will not see them. They will see the whole image and judge it based on this, not on the sum of its parts.

I have learned that the same seems to be true when people, especially us girls, are scrutinising a picture of themselves. How many times have you taken a nice photo of your friend only for her to declare “Oh no, my nose looks hideous in that, delete it immediately”. How many girls stand in front of the mirror trying to select an outfit that hides the cellulite only they see? For all the selfies taken, what proportion end up rejected? Have you ever taken a nice group photo for every participant to swear that some tiny imperfection in their expression ruins the entire tableau? But the fact is, nobody zooms in on your imperfections except yourself.

When I look at my body, I use my artist’s eyes. I use the skills of objectivity I acquired and applied at art school when critiquing my own art work when I look in the mirror. I look at the picture as a whole when I take a selfie. I imagine it was a stranger looking upon the photo. They would not pick fault with the angle of my chin or a blemish on my cheek. People look at eyes and smiles and if you post a genuine happy, radiant photo I guarantee it will be better received than any stiff duck face selfie. If you post a full body shot of yourself in that sun-dress with your legs bare, the sun shining and your hair falling sun bleached around your shoulders then nobody but you will notice that you need to touch up your roots. I know this is true because I test it all the time. I regularly post selfies where I can see hairy armpits, double chins and spots. But I am smiling and happy, and nobody has ever commented. I told my friends that I had started doing this and they all had to confess that they had never noticed. You should try it sometime. it’s very liberating.

As for selfie face, there really no need. Girls always have a go to face when a camera is thrust before them. I just pull a happy and genuine smile. All your friends know what your face looks like girls, we aren’t fooling anyone with that stiff, lips parted, eyes smokin’, chin down, vacant expression. We only use our selfie faces when taking selfies, you would never use that in any other situation. That is not what you look like. Do you want to look back on a lifetime of stilted selfies or a collection of photos where you look happy and natural?

My favourite photos are always the ones where the object was unaware that their photo was being taken. The non posed, natural photos of someone occupied by happiness, deep in conversation, or lost in contemplation. When we are unaware that our photograph is being taken we don’t have the opportunity to project awkwardness or self consciousness, and thus we are more beautiful for it.

This is the basis through which I maintain my positive body image. I know that I am beautiful, for I look at myself through my artist’s eyes. My friend’s are equally beautiful in the diversity and disparity, and I wish they could see themselves through my eyes instead of through their own harsh criticism. I hope that this blog might give anyone who reads it pause for thought. I hope they will look at themselves differently because of it. We are all beautiful but too many people cannot see it in themselves.

By Victoria Haswell. Visit her blog Nurse Vendetta here.

“Periods were imbued with the mystery of the adult world – a strange and slightly frightening thing which I both wanted to experience and was a little horrified by.”

I don’t remember when I first learned that menstruation was something shameful. Certainly it was before I bled for the first time at the age of 13. Periods were imbued with the mystery of the adult world – a strange and slightly frightening thing which I both wanted to experience and was a little horrified by.

I remember being about 9 or 10 years old and being at my friend Vanessa’s house the first time I found out what periods were. Her mum had bought her a book and we were reading it together. I distinctly remember saying, “You bleed from THERE?! It would be bad enough if it was from your thumb or something!” A week later my own mum bought me a book – it was called “Have You Started Yet?” and she had picked it up in the sale section at the library. The book itself was quite old fashioned, illustrated with bad pop art and containing references to the type of sanitary pad you had to clip onto a belt. I remember the awkward conversation which started with the words, “Have you heard any of the other girls at school talking about periods?” and my mortified silence. It was not my mother who instilled this shame in me, but somehow I already knew that this mysterious blood which would start coming out of me one day was something a little disgusting.

I remember being on a hillwalking trip with the Guides – I must have been about 12 – and, in the dorm of the basic SYHA hostel where we stayed, the slightly older girls talking about periods. One of the girls had unexpectedly got her period (although not her first) and Captain had had to take her to the chemist to get pads and painkillers. These girls, just a year or two older than I was, seemed part of an adult world which I was a little jealous of, but also a little scared. Their talk of cramps and pains and blood was alien to me, and while I was at that age where I so badly wanted to grow up, this whole business of being a woman sounded difficult.

When my own first period came, I didn’t tell my mum. I knew where she kept the pads and I knew how to use them, so I just put one on and went about my day. Strangely, I don’t really remember how it made me feel. Embarrassed, I think. I have often felt a little guilty about the fact I didn’t tell my mum right away, wondered if it made her sad that I didn’t tell her. I was always a child who didn’t like to cause a fuss. I remember even as a very young child not wanting to bother people with things, being kind of embarrassed to admit personal things about myself. I don’t know where that comes from. I have always been in some ways an anxious sort of person, who would rather sort things out for herself than ask for help.

I have always been quite lucky that my periods are not much of a trial. They were fairly predictable, from the days in my teens when I used to mark the dates in my diary with crosses, to this day when I record them in an app on my phone (aside: The app I use is called Clue and I love it – it lets you record all sorts of different data from your moods to the heaviness of your bleeding, and it doesn’t come in a twee pink colour scheme full of flowers and other dubious visual metaphors for vaginas. And it’s free!) My cramps have never been debilitating, or my bleeding inconveniently heavy. So although menstruation was something I, like most women, was a bit secretive about, a little ashamed of, at least my period wasn’t something I approached with dread each month. The dirty womanliness of it was something society taught me to hide, but at least the experience itself wasn’t too awful. I know that makes me lucky.

Period sex wasn’t something that really became a part of my life until I was an adult. Although I lost my virginity at 16, I never had a steady boyfriend as a teenager and had only had sex a handful of sporadic times until I went to uni. At 18 I went on the pill for the first time, and it gave me spotting for the first 28 days and then settled down into a clockwork-regular cycle. I’ve always liked this aspect of the pill; I find the bleed comforting. I have friends on forms of contraception which – in their cases at least – stop their periods entirely and they love it, but I’ve never liked that idea. I find something reassuring in the bleeding. Firstly, of course, was always the comforting knowledge that there was no foetus growing inside me. But I think it also just feels natural. Somehow it wouldn’t feel right to me not to bleed, even if it’s the artificial bleed during my break each month.

At 20 I got my first properly serious boyfriend. I was still awkward about the idea of period sex at this point, not because of any particular experience but just because of the idea that people found it disgusting. It has never been that I was disgusted by the idea myself, more the fear that the man I was with would be grossed out. As I’ve got older, I’ve realised they mostly don’t particularly care, but I’ll come to that more in a bit.

When I was with this first boyfriend, I decided to get the contraceptive implant. It seemed convenient – no pills to remember, for years. So I had it put in, watching in fascination as the doctor shoved the huge needle into my anaesthetised arm (I have never been squeamish about this stuff and I always like to watch when they take blood or give me a jag – weird, I know).

The implant made me bleed every day. Not a lot – it was like the very last day of my period, every day. The doctor had said it could take up to six months to settle down with my body, so I kept it in to see if anything would change. But it didn’t. For months and months, I didn’t have a proper period but had spotting every day. And I hated it. It felt so unnatural. I had the implant taken out, watching again as this time they sliced my arm open and pulled out this tiny wee stick which had had such an effect on my body. Having proper periods again was a relief, and I went on the pill again for contraceptive purposes. I could bleed every month again, in the way that felt right for me.

So, period sex. I said as I’ve got older I’ve found that men don’t care much, and that’s pretty much true. But it’s only half true. Every time I’ve got into a sexual situation with a new man for the first time on my period, there’s this awkward moment where I feel the need to say, “Just so you know, I have my period, and that doesn’t bother me, but I thought I should let you know…” And it really doesn’t bother me. I’m not grossed out by my period. I have enjoyed non-menstrual bloodplay during sex in the past, so the blood aspect is actually kind of sexy. There’s something extra animalistic about the blood smeared across sweaty skin, about being so caught up in the pleasure of sex that you don’t give a fuck about the mess.  So I’m more than happy not just to fuck on my period, but for them to go down on me, to kiss them after, to taste my own blood on their lips. It’s sexy in and of itself, but it’s also sexy because they have embraced my body in all its bloody glory.

I’ve found that, while most men are happy to fuck you while you’re on your period, most aren’t as enthusiastic about oral sex, even those who normally love it. And I’d never want a sexual partner to do something they weren’t comfortable with so I would never force it, but I wonder where that comes from. Men are socialised with the same disgust of menstruation as women, but stronger because they don’t usually have to live the reality of it in their own bodies. So I understand, but I wish more of them would be prepared to give it a go.

The first time I was with a man who truly didn’t give a fuck about it, it was a revelation. When I told him I was bleeding, and he still put his face between my legs – and I mean fully, joyously, not a genteel dipping of the tongue – and came up with my blood all over him, it was one of the sexiest things I’d ever experienced. He didn’t find this disgusting. He found it sexy and dirty and erotic, and he embraced this aspect of my womanhood. He didn’t just deign to put his dick in me even though I was bleeding; he fully immersed himself in sex as he would have at any other time of the month. I was 23 by this point and I genuinely hadn’t thought that was possible. It remains an example of what I expect from a truly fulfilling sex life with future partners.

At the moment I don’t have a steady sexual partner, and I decided to stop taking the pill. It had been years that I’d been on it and, not needing it for contraception, I thought I’d see what it was like without it. My first real period after stopping felt great. It was heavier and more painful than my bleeds on the pill, but – in a way I hadn’t expected – I enjoyed the feeling of my body actively doing that, not just letting down blood because of how my hormones were being regulated. I liked the sensation that this was all me.

Don’t get me wrong – I think hormonal contraception is one of the greatest inventions of all time. Giving women the power to control conception is probably the single biggest factor in allowing us all the other freedoms we have in the West today compared with even 50 years ago. I am so incredibly grateful to have the range of contraceptive choices that is available to me as a woman in Scotland in 2016. But I have also enjoyed not being on the pill any more. I’ve found my sex drive has increased (actually kind of an inconvenience sometimes when you’re single…) and I still like the feeling that a “real” period gives me. A sort of comforting feeling that all is as it should be.

I’m not sure what I’ll do the next time I’m in a sexual relationship where we’re going to stop using condoms. I know the implant isn’t for me, and I have doubts about the injection for the same reasons. I have realised that I think I prefer not being on hormonal contraception, but I don’t love condoms so if I’m in an exclusive relationship I prefer something else. I’ve been considering the coil, but a lot of women say it makes their periods more painful. I’m not sure how that would change my relationship to an aspect of my body which I’ve always quite enjoyed. But I’m happy to make compromises to not have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, which would be the biggest of all possible inconveniences. So I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it and make whatever decision feels like the right one at that stage of my relationship with my body.

I think perhaps that is the thing I’ve always liked about my period – that it makes me feel a connection to my body. It makes me think of my body and consider what it will feel about something. It can make me present in my body. And the older I get, the more I try not to be ashamed of it. I try not to be coy about it. I try to present the fact confidently to men I’m about to have sex with. Because I don’t think it’s disgusting or shameful, so I shouldn’t bow to the fear that others will.

by Hannah, age 27

SINCE WHEN IS REMOVING YOUR BODY HAIR LINKED WITH RESPECTING YOUR BODY?

I came across AYQA through a buzzfeed post and felt it completely necessary to share her illustrations and her message.

We live in a society where woman are made to feel like they don’t have a choice on what to do with our body hair — we are expected to remove it all and if we don’t we are ‘weird’ ‘disgusting’ ‘dirty’ ‘smelly’ etc etc the negative words go on and on — we DO have a choice. And that choice should be normalised and respected.

Ayqa has illustrated these amazing drawings in an attempt to normalise body hair.

Let us wear our body hair with pride! Or not, if you choose to remove it. Do what you want with your body hair — it is YOUR CHOICE after all.

Find out more or purchase a print here — Ayqa’s Art