“… I sometimes love my body but now when I put myself down I think about my girls and how they’re proud of their mum.”

What can I say about how I feel to be naked? I’ve loved my body. I’ve hated my body but I suppose I should really start at the beginning. I developed and became curvy very young. I was the only person in my primary to start her periods and have breasts and I was bullied for it.

In high school I quickly became prey and men took advantage. I became hateful about everyone and everything. I didn’t know or understand what love was because I’d never experienced it. In my middle and late teens I never had a problem with being naked, with wearing very skimpy clothes, I looked good and I knew it. I was a size 10-12, toned, rock solid dancer’s legs, my breasts were neither too large, nor too small for my body (although I wanted bigger) my hair was waist length and I had confidence by the bucket load.

I started going out with someone when I was 18 and slowly I changed. I stopped paying attention to my hair – it just got washed. Make-up – there was none. Tight flattering clothes – changed for baggy jeans and big jumpers. Secretly I hoped that my ex would fight for me and want me back (I lost count the amount of times he told me ‘I love you’) Obviously not enough. He started going out with someone, who I perceived at the time to be hideous. She told me she would have and take what was mine and I told her to try, she got him and I got my confidence destroyed by someone all wrong for me, and I went to a very bad place with drink and drugs. I stopped most of it, although I continued to binge drink and smoke a lot of hash.

I eventually went out with someone 21 years my senior, I quickly became pregnant and my first daughter was born, we were married the following year and a year and a half after that my second daughter was born. I thought we were happy. Sex was wonderful and plentiful but as I became larger and my body changed so did our sex life until eventually it became non-existent. I went back to college and he stayed at home with the children; all through that course he made my life hell with the constant put downs and heavy drinking. I started exercising and became toned again back to my small size 10-12 and his attention changed as well. I put on weight again and as the weight came he went and sex again became almost non-existent. I went back to do a different course, the girls were in school all day and so was I. I loved it! I made some amazing friends that I still have to this day and he even got his drinking sorted, although every time he had a relapse I’d get the constant put downs and snidy comments. My aunt told me he was jealous and to just give him time – ‘his male pride’s been hurt’ she would say to me. All through that time I couldn’t look in the mirror. I hated what I saw, because when I looked in it I saw a fat, frumpy, old house wife that’s long past it and I was only 30.

At 31 I fulfilled a life long dream and attended a course at the RSAMD where I found out about Trilogy and I had the privilege and honour of taking part in its final ever show. It was a sisterhood of strong, independent, amazing women, of all ages, shapes and sizes dancing naked together and for the first time since before my children were born I was PROUD TO BE NAKED AND A WOMAN. I often describe that time as a life changing experience because in many ways it was. I was so proud of all of us that I decided to show (who I thought were) friends the cast photo of us all. Suddenly my amazing experience that I was so proud of was turned into something sleazy, dirty and something to be ashamed of and I was asked to leave the job were I was because they’d put in a complaint at management level. I retreated way into my shell, although no-one would know because I hid it well, except from my oldest daughter. She pulled me up one day saying ‘mum, you’ve stopped exercising’ and I asked her how she knew and she told me it was because the scarf wasn’t covering the mirror anymore, I always covered the mirror when I exercise and here I thought no-one noticed. I started to cry and she gave me a cuddle and said ‘mum, I wish you can see what I see. You’re amazing, you’re gorgeous, you’re beautiful both inside and out, you’re talented, you have the biggest heart of anyone I know and I want to be just like you when I grow up.’ My 12 year old has become my rock when I should be hers (although she assures me I am) it’s because of her I started and continue with Egyptian belly dancing (although some of the costumes make me feel very self conscious) she’s my inspiration.

How do I feel to be naked? At the moment – I mostly hate my body and I avoid looking in the mirror. In certain clothes when they suck everything in I sometimes love my body but now when I put myself down I think about my girls and how they’re proud of their mum. I think about my Trilogy girls and the time we had. The girls are proud that their mum had the guts and the confidence to stand in front of an audience and dance in her birthday suit and deep down although sometimes I need reminding – so am I. I’m an artist – I love the human figure in all its glory of any shape and size. I just wish I could love my own again and I hope the next time I tell my story it’ll be from a happier place.

– Anon

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