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

“Not For You”

-Delighted to share this powerful and totally badass project called Not For You. Shared with permission from the artist, and with some stories from the women who took part. 
*CW: mention of rape and abuse*

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Artist Mike Arrison: “”Not For You” grew completely organically. I never imagined or intended for it to be what it is now when I first started. I didn’t even have an idea of it when I first started. It all goes back to my love of the work of Lauren Rinaldi, a painter based in Philadelphia. I had been wanting to collaborate with her for some time, to recreate her paintings as photographs with her as the model, yet our schedules were never able to sync up to one another. Eventually she told me that I could use another model if I wanted, so I didn’t have to put the inspiration on the back burner. Once she told me that I had one major question. “Do I try to find a model that has her exact body type?” And before I even finished that thought, a new one popped up. I didn’t have to focus on just one specific body. I could tie this into my longest running photo project, Reclamation (password: freethenipple) and have this be a statement on female body image. I thought I would be lucky to get three, maybe four of my friends to participate. I would throw it up on instagram, and within a week everyone would forget about. The project has taken over my life since the new year. At last count, (2/15/17) 47 women have participated, ages range from 19-50+, of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, nationalities, beliefs, so on so forth. Many have shared stories about why they chose to participate and what it means to them. It has been a truly amazing and humbling experience to be able to facilitate the empowerment of so many women through something so simple as a photograph.” 

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Some of the stories that have been shared through the project:-

“I wanted to do this project because I have received negative comments about the size of my breasts since I was 9 years old. The first two ridiculing me were older girls from school. This is for them too.
I wanted to do this project to say “fuck you” to the ideas of the human body relating to adequacy.
I wanted to do this project to say “fuck you” to myself for still feeling ugly.
I wanted to do this project because the very idea of it is provocative to many when it’s just a body.

But it’s my body.
Besides my mind, it’s all I have.”

_____________

“Women are told from day one what beauty should look like. But I believe all girls should feel empowered by their bodies.
I’ve never done anything like this before.
I didn’t feel embarrassed at all.
I felt pride in my body at that moment. 
It felt amazing.
I am proud to say I love the way I look.

It’s not for you, it’s for me.”

_______________

“I wanted to be a part of this project because I thought that at 32 I was too old to be raped. I thought that a night out with a trusted friend couldn’t possibly end with a huge violation of my trust. I thought that the people I surrounded myself with knew that no means no. And that I wouldn’t even have a reason to use the word “no” it let alone plead it. My body is not for him.

I wanted to be a part of this project because of the cruel stares in public just for feeding my child. Because the most natural way of feeding a child has become sexualized. My body is for creating and feeding my child. My body is not for their criticism or gratification.

I wanted to be a part of this project because of the necessity to teach my daughter at the age of 2 that NOBODY has a right to touch her body in an inappropriate manner because 25% of female children are molested and of those that are, the majority percentage happen before the age of 4. Her body is not for anyone’s gratification.

I wanted to be part of this project because at a time of great political turmoil, a time when birth control and other women’s needs are not covered by insurance or publicly supported but male sexual enhancers are, a time when pro-choice is confused with pro-abortion, a time when a misogynist who “grabs ’em by the pussy” is leader of the free world, I want the world to know….My choice is mine, my mind is mine, my body is mine. Not for you.”

_________________

“When I think of this project and what it means to me, I unfortunately can’t help but reminisce on some of the negative things that I have experienced because I am woman. It is disturbing that we live in a society where sexual freedom is only really granted to man. I can’t count the number of times that I have been ‘slut shamed’ or made to feel disgusting about myself simply for doing what men are often praised for – expressing myself creatively, sexually. I was a part of an abusive relationship in which I was made to think that I was fat, ugly, a slut, inadequate. I was emotionally tortured and broken down to nothing, allowing myself to believe the things that were being told to me. This lasted for 6 years. Once I broke the glass into freedom and re-identification, I soon began to realize that there is nothing more special than being woman. I am proud of my sexuality, my body, my experiences, my journey. We are looked at to be the object of a man’s attention, there to please visually, sexually. I can think of at least 5 times in my life in which a man on the street/subway grabbed or touched my ass. I didn’t’ fully grasp how much women were looked at as objects until this happened to me. I didn’t know that I could feel so violated, so empty. To think that someone that I didn’t even know, let alone ever met, could feel that it was okay to touch me as they pleased is fucking disgusting. It has to end. There is no better time than the present to stand together (men and women), fight back, and send a huge FUCK YOU to the capitalist hetero-patriarchy that is trying to break us down. They can’t, and they never will”


More of Mike Arrison’s work can be found here and you can follow him on intsa @120ish  ❤

Natural Beauty by Ben Hopper

I came across this project by artist Ben Hopper called Natural Beauty and loved what the women had to say about their choices around their body hair. Ben has captured their portraits in such a beautiful and striking way, and their words pack a real punch. Shared with permission from Ben. Here are a couple of the photographs, check out the rest at Natural Beauty or his facebook page here ❤ 

*Maya Felix photographed in London as part of Ben Hopper’s “Natural Beauty” project. June 19, 2014.*10397112_10152478609591462_9035494075087611570_o

“I am mixed race and have quite fair sensitive skin and thick dark hair. This made shaving a very difficult and often painful process. Stubble would always grow back within 24 hours, and trying to shave the stubble would end in bleeding and rashes. My underarms were never ‘pretty’ or ‘feminine’. I hated it and was made miserable by it. I remember wearing t-shirts with sleeves when swimming and jumpers on hot days just to cover up my prickly, irritated pits. I certainly couldn’t afford regular waxing at the age when societal pressure kicked in. I desperately wanted to have skin and hair like my friends and be accepted – not only by them, but also by myself. When I was 15 I even asked my mum for laser hair removal for my birthday (luckily my mum is a badass feminist who has never really conformed to ‘beauty’ standards or bothered with non-essential grooming and firmly said ‘No. your body is beautiful, you don’t need to burn it with lasers’). When I was about 17 and in my first serious relationship with a boy who loved my body a lot more than I did, I decided to try something radical. I decided to stop putting myself through pain, to stop being angry with my body for not being the way I wanted it; I stopped shaving.

I’d like to say I never looked back but I definitely have. I’ve shaved a few times since, normally because I’ve still been unable to shake the ridiculous feeling that I won’t be able to look feminine in a ball gown with armpit hair. I’ve been self-conscious when people glance or whisper or make a comment to me. I’m ashamed to say I’ve apologised to a few people about it, feeling embarrassed and nervous and wanting to make a point of excusing it before anyone else can comment. I have still sometimes covered them up in summer, and definitely made an effort to hide it during my year of working behind a bar. I didn’t think tipsy, overly forward folks (usually men) would withhold comments on them when I reached up to get a wine glass. However, during this year, I was contacted by Ben Hopper, and eventually and slightly cautiously agreed to let him photograph me for his Natural Beauty series. The experience completely changed my feelings towards my armpits and my overall confidence increased massively. The cat was out of the bag to all of my friends and a rather wider audience than I ever imagined (over half a million!!). After reading the comments on the Facebook post I felt proud to be an example of how beautiful women’s bodies are, no matter what they choose to do with them. I felt indignant about the nastier comments, and developed an ‘if you don’t like it, I don’t give a shit because it’s not for you, and your opinion on my or any woman’s body is irrelevant’ attitude. I’ve now realised that underarm hair acts as a really great asshole deterrent – just another reason to love and appreciate it. I do love it now. I may still shave from time to time, just as I may wear lipstick, or dye my hair – but like the latter two, it would be for the sake of personal choice and expression, rather than to conform to a standard I have no interest in upholding or contributing to in any way.

I think everyone should try going without any non-essential grooming at some point in their life. It will shave (pun intended) lots of time off your routine, and it’s really interesting to see what your body naturally does. You may find it freeing and empowering. You may even find that you like the way it looks as I did, and if you don’t you can always just go back to shaving, no harm done.”
– Maya Felix, December 2016.

*Amanda Palmer originally photographed in London as part of Ben Hopper’s research phase of “Natural Beauty” project. April 25, 2010.*

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“I realized at one point, when I was about 18, that I was shaving because I’d been doing that told what to do. I can’t remember being ordered to shave my body, but the message was singular and omnipotent when I was 10 years old – YOU WILL SHAVE, IT IS A SIGN OF MATURITY AND WOMANHOOD! It came from my sister, from her friends, from television, from teen magazines, from every corner. And there was no voice, from any corner, telling me NOT to shave (expect maybe my mother, who was horrified that I wanted to shave so early because my sister was doing it). But: I hate being told what to do. So I decided to grow it out and see what happened if I stopped doing what people were telling me to do. And nothing bad happened. So I left it. 

I felt like I was back in control of my body without having realized I’d lost control.

Interestingly, very few people ever made comments about my armpit hair. Children would sometimes stare, and I found myself thinking “How interesting! They have a sense elf what’s ‘normal’ gendered behaviour by the time they’re three years old!” And in the relationship department, it probably attracted more men than it deterred. I was emanating a power and a self-confidence that lots of men (and women, I’m bisexual) found really attractive. I remember my friend Emily, who also didn’t shave her legs, always defending herself against anyone who commented that her leg hair was “gross” by throwing her hands up and saying “I’m still getting laid!!” The most fascinating thing to notice in retrospect is that negative comments and judgements from adults almost always came from women. Men, or at least the kind of interesting, intellectual, hip guys I like to attract, never really seemed to care whether there was hair under my arms or not. But women would sometimes take my armpit hair as a personal insult, like a breaking of an agreement that we are all supposed to groom ourselves according to a standard. Obviously, fuck that.”
Amanda Palmer, December 2016

 

I realize no one’s perfect, we’re all just trying our best

I used to be so bothered by not having a flat tummy.
I wanted slimmer thighs and tamer hair.
It wasn’t until last winter that I came to truly appreciate my body.
Once I suddenly lost so much weight I was finally what was considered the ideal size.
But I’d be sitting in the metro, eying curvy women, truly seeing the aesthetic of it.
I love these “love your natural hair and body” movements today, because growing up I never saw anyone famous that looked like me, who I could identity with.
I now realize there are a few things my parents believe(d) that I just brushed off when I was younger, but came to on my own as an adult. But there are a few other things, comments from family about my physical appearance, that did stick with me in a bad way.
I realize no one’s perfect, we’re all just trying our best, but I sometimes ask myself, “if I were a parent, how would I explain that to my child?”
I have a friend who says her family teasing her helped prepare her for the harshness of children at school. I never let that stuff get to me, but when it came from someone I loved and trusted, I listened.
This is something that’s been on my mind for years now and the conclusion I’ve finally come to is this: tell children “The world will judge you for how you look. You can change your appearance if you chose to be perceived differently, but there is -nothing- inherently wrong with the way you naturally are!”

by Wandering Misadventures 

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“The Struggle With My Body and My Identity”

CW: gender dysphoria, body anxiety
I have always struggled with my gender identity. As a child I would have dreams that I was the opposite sex and wake up disappointed when that wasn’t the case. Sometimes I’d dream that I could change between a man and a woman at will and, again, be sad to find myself in my regular old body when I awoke. This struggle with my identity has had a huge effect on my relationship with my body.

I struggle with a pretty bad case of body image anxiety. I’ve been getting better over recent months, but it’s still a struggle. Sometimes it’s really bad, sometimes I do okay. There are ups and downs. Due to a lack of decent sex education, I didn’t know that I would start to grow body hair as I entered my teen years. When I did, I thought maybe it was some weird anomaly. I was scared for people to see my armpits or legs and especially frightened of anybody ever seeing my pubic hair. But in school, everybody has to get changed together and it’s hard to keep your privacy. At times I was made fun of for being too hairy. At times I was made fun of for being too hairless. I wasn’t doing anything to my body, yet it was still disgusting in the eyes of these other people and in contradictory ways. It really hurt me. At the same time, I was struggling with my weight and with comments about that too, I tried to eat less to lose weight. In the space of a few months I lost five stone and didn’t notice. I was underweight. I hated my body so much.

All the while, I was figuring out my identity. I wanted to be very feminine, but at he same time, being too feminine and not very masculine didn’t feel quite true to my nature. I realised that what I really wanted to be was gender neutral. In many ways, I was very much a woman, but in others, I was very much a man. Realising this, it’s hard to know how to present yourself. Society says men have to look this way and women have to look that way. It makes things very difficult for those who don’t fit into either category.

But though this has been a rather negative piece of writing overall, I’d like to end on a positive. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of nudism: it reflects a healthy perspective on one’s body and it’s good to see the human body desexualised in a world which is always so keen to sexualise it. The human body is beautiful in all its shapes and sizes. Reading some of the stories here on Project Naked have made me feel a little better about myself. They’ve given me a few more drops of confidence. Below is a picture of my naked body. Yes, I know I’m concealing myself and that it’s blurry and not very good – but that’s not the point. That picture was so hard for me to take. I was shaking as I took it, because I knew I’d be posting it publicly and others would see it.. But the point is, I did do it. While I would say that there are a thousand and one things wrong with my body, I also know, in my heart that I am wrong. I am beautiful just like everybody else. If I can push myself to do this, maybe I can push myself to see the beauty of my body. If you’re struggling with the same thing, I hope you can see your own beauty one day too.

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“Feminism isn’t all about women. Feminism fights for the equality of ALL PEOPLE.”

CW: mentions of rape, sexual harassment, sexist language in the context of a critique

‘Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic EQUALITY of the sexes.’

Every morning, I like to start my day by having a quick look on social media. I have a lot of political and science groups on there that always post new articles, and as a sufferer of MS I am also part of a few support groups. But recently, I have noticed an increase in guys posting ignorant/sexist and misogynist memes on there also. Some even post long rants at the absurdity of women campaigning for equal rights, “What about men’s rights?” they argue.

In fairness to them, how can they possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman on a day-to-day basis? How are they expected to understand what it feels like to be talked down to, leered at, judged more harshly and treated differently more-or-less every day? And how can they grasp what it’s like to be female when they can go to a pub/club without any expectation of being harassed, groped… or worse?

I know one friend who was urinated on by a guy on a night out. His response when questioned by a bouncer… ‘She had a dirty face and I thought she might like it’. Myself and nearly all my female friends have been groped so harshly (both bottom and breasts) that they bruised and I know of one friend who lost her mates on a night out and was dragged down an alleyway and raped… she was 17. She hasn’t been to a club since.

Outside of the club scene, two of my mates were raped when they were 13 by men they trusted, another at 15, and another was raped by her boyfriend when she was 21. Oh, and none of these men were held accountable for their actions (lack of evidence, fear of not being believed, invasive medical examinations, recalling the event at the police station and reluctance to go up in court to relive the event again as well as being interrogated and made accountable for their alcohol consumption and/or clothing choice – adding to that the fear of them being found not guilty).

How many men can honestly say they’ve had firsthand experience of any of this? How many of their friends have horror stories of being sexually abused by women? It exists, but nowhere close to the level that women experience it from men; for a woman it’s almost normal.

In the UK today, that is what most women have to put up with. In other areas of the world, the reality of living as a woman is truly terrifying in comparison. Forced marriages (often underage), genital mutilation, breast flattening and in some areas women are murdered or forced into slavery/marriage just for wanting an education!

Therefore, I fully stand by the women’s marches recently. A lot of people have been posting on social media stating ‘it’s a waste of time’ and ‘what about other countries where women are stoned to death or face genital mutilation?’ and one that strikes a particular chord with me: ‘you have equal rights, what are you marching for?’

The western media focused on the inauguration of President Trump as the main reason for the marches (which was the case in America) but most men and women were marching to protest the inequality women face all around the world. Officials reported around 673 marches worldwide, including countries like India, Nigeria, Columbia, Iraq, Ghana, South Africa, South Korea and many, many more. Each country marched to highlight the inequality faced in their respective countries. Some marches also included members of the LGBTQ+ community who are also campaigning for equal rights.

In regards to the other comments, according to western law: yes we (more or less) have equal rights.  But women are still treated very differently to men, whether it’s positive or negative – we just want to be treated equally. We are fed up of some men making inappropriate comments, both in and out of work. We are fed up of being groped by men in clubs, then getting called things like ‘frigid lesbian’ when we kick off about it. We are fed up of being ignored, talked down to, mocked and judged. We are not allowed to be sexual, in the way that men can be. There are a plethora of negative words to describe women who are promiscuous (slag, slut, whore etc.), but how many negative words are used to describe men who sleep around…? None. They are described as a ‘stallion’ or a ‘ladies’ man’ – both with positive connotations.  According to some men, if we complain about being oppressed but wear short skirts occasionally or dance provocatively then we have no right to say we are being oppressed, and some even go as far as to suggest that it’s our own fault when we are assaulted or raped, suggesting that we ‘asked for it’. Their mentality is shocking.

Feminism isn’t all about women. Feminism fights for the equality of ALL PEOPLE. The only reason the focus mainly falls on women’s issues is due to the constant discrimination and injustice of the treatment of women in every country on the planet.

We want to make our voices heard, for ALL women and ALL men. It’s not fair that men are expected to act a certain way. They can’t express how they feel or show emotion because it’s not ‘manly’. They have to conform to a very narrow stereotype in order to avoid ridicule or worse. The biggest reason for male deaths under the age of 40 is suicide. Most men feel like they can’t report abuse and most men are refused the right to see their children as priority goes to the mothers and I don’t agree with that.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for some men to navigate themselves in this world, I’m not a man and therefore I’ll never properly understand.

But I can empathise and try… all women want is for men to try and do the same for us.

– by Victoria Lee

My Body, My Hair – a short film.

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This short documentary looks at body hair. Starting off with asking the public for their opinions and to discuss assumptions around women with armpit hair, it moves on to talk with women specifically about their hair choices – some lovely accounts of why women have chosen to not shave and their thoughts and feelings around it. And it features our Hannah as one of the awesome interviewees!

With credit to Camilla Øhren Danielsen for creating this great short film! ❤

 

“I can hear my 23-year-old self now saying: ‘look at all the things we’ve done! I can’t wait for the rest.'”

A lot can change in 5 years. I have since changed jobs 4 times (with the odd one in between), I have adopted a dog, moved in with a loving boyfriend, and completed/am continuing study in social welfare/counselling/psychology.

Through this study I have learned a lot, and my self awareness and awareness of others has grown considerably.

I have also become so accepting of myself. Of the things that caused me so much hate and anger. Sure, I still have bad days where I feel like my brain has reverted back to my 14-year-old self and it’s fighting against me but instead of counting the bad days and thinking how horrible it is, I now count the good days. I count the days where nothing fantastic happened other than I got to the end of the day without a negative thought. And I sit in my garden and light a cigarette and think “well this is fucking nice, isn’t it.”

I have also been in situations that have challenged me more than I ever knew were possible both physically/mentally, positive and negatively.

I have worked in an environment that had constant physical fights that posed me real physical risk and made me almost vomit when I got home from the sheer thought that some serious damage could have been done. And I realise how strong my body is and how powerful I can be. I have been in situations that required immediate action to prevent myself or someone else physical harm and trusted my body to handle it – and it did.

On the other hand, I have swum naked on one of the most remote beaches in the world, and realised how small and innocent I am in the grand scheme of things. I don’t have to be powerful or strong, I can be small and vulnerable and still feel beautiful.

If I could tell my 16-year-old self anything it would be: “don’t do it just because everyone else is, or that boy wants you to.”

If I could tell my 18-year-old self anything it would be: “you ain’t seen nothing yet, if you think this is good, just wait…”

If I could tell my 20-year-old self anything it would be: “trust me, he’s a good one, just give in and trust him, forget all the fuckboys of the past, you have no idea how well you are doing with your life.”

And I can hear my 23-year-old self now saying: “look at all the things we’ve done! I can’t wait for the rest.”

My 14-year-old self sits and can’t believe how good she will be and how far she would go, she only wishes she could have seen how powerful, sexy, vulnerable, strong, creative, and loved she is. But that’s ok because future me does, and that’s all that matters.