One month ago today, we decided to take one of our ideas and actually try to make it happen. We didn’t really know what Project Naked would become; we just wanted to get women talking about their relationships with their naked bodies in the hope that we could learn from each other’s experiences. We felt that there were stories that we weren’t hearing in the media. Women’s magazines claim to promote happiness in your body, but it always comes with a catch. You can love your body – with these control pants! You can love your body – with this ten-day bikini diet! You can love your body – with this boob job! And we think that’s a dangerous way to think about your body, as a thing which constantly needs improving. We wanted to hear what real women thought about their bodies.
But what it’s turned into has been more amazing than anything we could have imagined. We’ve been moved and inspired by the honesty and bravery of the women who’ve shared their stories. We know how challenging it can be to talk about the experiences we’ve had with our bodies, and this project has highlighted how central those experiences are to our lives. We thought this was a project about body image, and in a way it is, but it’s become something much more than that. We still want reading these experiences to encourage women to love their own, lived-in bodies, and we hope that it does. But deeper than that, it’s shown us stories of the courage and resilience of women, and that is truly inspiring.
Here are some excerpts from some of the stories we’ve had submitted so far. If you haven’t already, read through them in full; it’s totally worth it.
“I do not fit the “Aussie beach babe mould” because I am Scottish. Our family has big ears, knobbly knees, and our women are curvy, our bums wobble and I love it. We are beautiful just the way we are.” – Mollie, 18.
“I feel like I can’t travel this road with my female comrades. I can’t embrace my femininity because it repulses me. I don’t mean that I want to be male. I’m proud (insofar as you can be) to be a woman. I wish I could dance and be naked and feel free but I don’t feel that I can in this gendered environment … The problem is that, rather than change my own way of thinking, I’m waiting for society to break down so that I can be free of prescribed roles and this will never happen.” – Anon.
“The first time someone calls you a ‘lady’, as in “Mind you don’t bump into that lady”, is pretty weird. And for me the first time I called myself a woman was pretty weird too. But the word fits me now. I am an adult woman, and it’s high time I got used to it.” – Anon, 24.
“My body works (for the most part), it doesn’t matter all that much in the end if it looks nice, because for me, it’s a vessel for my voice. What I’m saying, what I’m shouting, what I’m singing, what I’m signing, what I’m making art on, what I’m writing, what the way I look is saying, the list goes on and on- none of this would be possible if it weren’t for my body.” – reclaimthecunt
“My body is hairy and wobbly and a lot of the time I feel ashamed of those things. But my body is warm and strong and life-giving and pleasure-giving and when I’m naked with a lover, all I do is laugh because I fucking love the human body and I guess that includes mine.” – Anon.
“When I see myself naked now, for the most part — I feel lucky and proud. I feel lucky because I have come to embrace myself and my body. I have become completely comfortable with myself (most of the time anyway!). I feel lucky because I’ve never hated my body. It works hard for me and I often don’t treat it as well as I should. I’ve abused/mistreated it countless numbers of times and yet, it hasn’t given up on me. I feel lucky because I can see beauty in my body, and I know there are an unimaginable number of women that can’t see beauty in theirs.” – intheflesh
“Being tall, thin and toned gave me no solace when I was cowering in the corner of my bedroom hearing things and no drive when I couldn’t get up for sadness. My love for my body comes from laudatory friends, ogling strangers and society’s skinny fetish. I like the looks, the comments and the compliments. It gives me a high and a warm feeling inside. This is a false and dangerous way to build confidence; Like an unsteady Jenga tower.” – Anon.
“I have come such a long way from looking in the mirror and hating what I saw, willing myself to be different, from clutching at towels to cover every inch of my naked body so no one would see even a bit of me. I feel freed from it, it is an amazing feeling to just let go of all that bitter pain and just be exactly who and what I am.” – Anon.
“And since I’ve rediscovered masturbation, and the ability to appreciate how my own body looks and feels during it, I’ve had the best orgasms of my life. Some days I think I’m skinny, some days I think I’m fat – but importantly, most days, I don’t care. My body doesn’t haunt me the way it used to. I’ve experienced enough body changes now to know that things are never as permanent as they seem, and worries are never as important as they seem either.” – Anon.
“I have forgiven my mum, I have forgiven those boys, I have forgiven my rapist. I know why the world is a mess. Capitalism and patriarchy endorse the commodification of women. Woman’s body has been territorialised and yet we are held accountable for the violence carried out on our bodies. I know this and my empowerment comes from taking steps with other amazing. analytical-minded people to change this. When I do think on these people it is with pity and the knowledge that I am strong, that nothing can defeat me. I would not have this without the community of women I hold so dear. As I cry writing this it is with pride and happiness.” – rouge
“I love sex and have had wonderful naked experiences with people who made me feel comfortable and safe and right in my own body, with my own nudity. And not just because they liked the way I looked naked, but because I could trust them with all parts of me.” – Anon, 23.
“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.” – Anon.
We want to thank all of the women who’ve submitted stories so far, and everyone who’s visited and shared the blog. We hope this project can keep growing. If you’d like to submit something, you can send it to us at projectnaked[@]gmail.com.
Hannah and Megan