What stories does your body want to tell? #5
This is something new and a bit hard for me to do. If there’s such a thing as #nofilter and no photoshopping, this is about as real as it’s going to get. (And even so, I admit these aren’t totally spontaneous and ‘natural’. I took a few and chose the best.)
I am always overly-conscious of how my body presents — all the singular parts of the body that seem to stand out on their own in photos. You know, the too-wobbly arm, the rolls of fat, how I’m slouching, why my double-chin seems so prominent… I took these photos in my knickers to give my body some relief, to tell her, “Let’s just be comfortable and see what turns out.”
I spend a lot of time mooching about just in my underwear (I’ve realised I don’t actually like wearing clothes all that much!), usually sitting about in these exact poses. Also, I really enjoy the movement my body affords me and the exposure of my skin and all parts of me to my immediate surroundings. It made me think a bit about why I’m so conscious of how this body ‘translates’ when she’s captured in a picture: I enjoy this body and all she does, but I’m ashamed of how she presents?
So often, when we know we’re taking a photo — whether we selfie it or someone else frames the shot — we position ourselves in particular poses, suck our stomachs in, angle our arms or tilt our heads so we know we’re ‘putting our best face/body forward’. But this is usually also pretty unnatural — it’s not how we are, how we usually sit or stand or move or rest. I wondered how much I could consider all these poses my ‘best sides’ when it’s not actually even really how I am or what I look like. It’s just a version of how I’d like to look.
I know that the people who matter to me are going to love me whatever I look like (and I know that’s a cliche, but…). And no matter how posey I am in trying to impress someone — say on a dating app — they’re eventually going to see the fullness of the flabby, scarred, stretch-marked me anyway. So who am I kidding, or impressing, really? (Mostly just myself).
I have never put up photos of myself where the largeness of my thighs, the thickness of my calves and the chunky roll of belly fat are so nakedly evident. Not even when I’ve put up swimsuit photos because that obviously entails a lot of sucking in of bellies, puffing out of chests and careful camera angling for flattering shots. So these shots are making me feel a bit horrified, but a part of me is also whooping and finally exhaling relief because of how comfortable I know I was sitting like this when I took this pictures.
I also know that the very next time I take a photo, I’m probably going to go back to using my ‘best angle’. I’m also probably not going to swap out my social media profile pix to these. I think there will always be this tension — this wanting to look a certain perfectible way or wanting to just look the way I do; this thing of not being entirely comfortable with either.
I guess maybe it doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Maybe the closest I can get to reconciling the perfectly framed shots with the slightly grubbier ones is to know I can do both; and that both are equally valued and valid.