Written by Mickie Woods
When I was 20 years old, I did my first nude photoshoot. I met a trustworthy photographer who asked if I would be down and initially, I laughed in his face — thinking it wasn’t anything I’d ever do in a million years. But then I thought about it, thought about it some more, and ended up having a change of heart.
I reflected on how mad my 80-year old self would be at my 20-year old self for not capturing photo evidence of my once youthful body. I tried to figure out what actually it was that I was so ashamed of and what was the worst that could happen. I grew a bit annoyed with myself for not being able to appreciate my body enough to give it a chance to shine in its full glory. So I agreed to do it. And even to this day, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my entire life.
I learned that having a professional photographer take photos of you naked is wayyy different from taking nudes in the comfort of your home. During such a shoot, you’re exposed in every way, shape, and form. It’s nerve wracking and incredibly vulnerable (I was sweating the whole time!), but the result of seeing yourself through the eyes of another is absolutely priceless. Up until that day, I had zero appreciation for my body and barely saw myself as beautiful. But now I look back on that day as the day I began honoring my body the way she is.
Honoring ourselves and our bodies is not an easy task — especially in a world where it’s normal and expected to do the opposite. From holding back on indulging in food we love to choosing not to wear one outfit over another, body unacceptance disrupts our day-to-day lives in a myriad ways. And the worst part about it is that our society is one that capitalizes off of our insecurities — making the most money from insecurities regarding the way we look! But the good news is that we don’t have to comply. You can choose freedom, love and appreciation over fear, neglect, and insecurity. You can radically accept your body in a world that doesn't want you to. Taking a professional nude photoshoot isn't for everyone, but you can implement small changes to your life each day that will slowly transform your relationship with your body.
For example, I try my hardest to speak kindly to my body. Positive body affirmations can look like:
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones by stopping just before you criticize your body and instead affirm your body by feeding it uplifting energy. The thoughts we have, the media we consume, the music we listen to, and the people we surround ourselves with all affect how we feel about ourselves on a conscious level and a subconscious level. Unfollow people (online and in real life!) who don’t make you feel incredibly loved just the way you are.
Start by loving what’s underneath through appreciating your mind, guarding your heart, and valuing your time and energy. When you value your livelihood, you’ll want to feel good in your body — not just feel good looking at your body. When you love yourself, you’ll want to exercise and eat healthy in order to keep your body functioning well, protecting you from harm, and allowing you to wake up every day and live your best life with ease. Your body is more than just a shell; you're a whole being with organs working around the clock to keep you alive and well. Your body is loving you every day; today I encourage you to find the desire to love it back.
But as a reminder, love is a strong word and it’s perfectly ok to have “off” days. Because here’s my unpopular opinion: You don’t actually have to love your body. You can work on learning to love it. You can save up some money to change it. You can do both, or you do neither. You can have days when you’re annoyingly feeling yourself and taking countless selfies, and you can also have days when you don’t even feel good enough to leave the house. Both are ok and both are natural.
You really don’t have to love your body, but what you can do is accept it. You can accept the good days and the bad days. You can decide to not let your lack of love towards your body get you down. You can accept where you are in this moment and remind yourself that a fresh start is always one thought away.
While of course, there were several things that I could have nitpicked and requested to be edited out in the final proofs from my shoot, I chose to embrace it all. Every blemish, every bone, and every crevice is a part of a beautiful machine working nonstop for my greater good. At the end of the day your relationship with your body is your relationship with your body. Body love is a lifelong journey, but remember that it’s no one’s business but yours.