Your Body Is A Work Of Art | Musings on Photography, Movement and Bellies
Your body is a work of art.
Go see one of your favorite paintings or sculptures (or look up a photo of it). Chances are it depicts the human form and was inspired by someone's body.
The first time I saw Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, my aesthetic response to the painting was so strong my friend had to cajole me through the rest of the Uffizi. More recently a sculpture—Expansion by Paige Bradley—elicited a similarly powerful reaction.
Notice the imperfections and vulnerabilities in the art. It’s beautiful, in part, because it’s not perfect. Just like your body.
I’ve made peace with and even learned to love most of my body.
For example, the crooked toe my aunt made fun of when I was a kid, became quirky after my first pedicure transformed my nails into rubies. My thick, too-tight calves that plagued me with Achilles tendonitis for over a decade, became a shapely asset once barefoot dancing loosened them from rock-hard to simply firm and muscular. And the cheeks I once considered chubby transformed when a friend complimented me on their beautiful curve. As I smiled and thanked her she exclaimed, “I love them even more now!” I did too.
If you’re like me, you still have issues with your body, at least some of the time. Most women do. I feel bad about my double chin and my fat belly. They remind me I haven't solved my weight problem despite extensive effort and am less healthy than I could be.
What bothers you about your body? What triggers the pain?
A camera can be a fantastic tool to increase your body pride. I dare you to go on a body love adventure with photography!
1. Push Photographic Boundaries
It took years for me to muster up the courage to be photographed while pole dancing. Despite the incredible beauty, strength, hotness and vulnerability I witnessed in my classmates, I feared photos wouldn’t capture what I felt while dancing. However, when two classmates showed me their photos, I trusted mine would turn out well too.
The photo shoot itself was scary, exhausting and empowering.
I loved one image so much I put a framed copy on my dresser to inspire me when I lost touch with my fiery side in daily life. When I started blogging several years ago, I shared it publicly.
A few weeks ago I received this note from a painter in Singapore:
I chanced upon a black and white picture of you pole dancing and felt such a strong urge to paint it. I danced for many years before I stopped doing it actively ten years ago; your picture showed so much self-empowerment and fire that it made me want to dance again. ~ Kim
My body inspired a work of art! How cool is that?
Challenge yourself to love your body a little (or a lot) more with a photo shoot that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
What terrifies yet titilates you? How vulnerable can you go?
Reveal some skin. Perhaps bouoir or pinup makes your heart beat faster. Zoom in. Get a glamourous headshot like a celebrity. Or show off your favorite (or least favorite) body part in dramatic or magical light. Zoom out. Be bold with a full body shot. Be bolder, au natural, accented by only your favorite Bodybinds.
And remember, even professionals working with models take many pictures to capture one gem. Make that the treasure: One untouched frame-worthy photograph that lets you inner light shine bright.
If you dare, share your boundary-pushing photos with friends (or the world) to give other women the courage to deepen her body love through photography.
For inspiration, browse the following galleries. They remind me of the beauty and vulnerability I witness every week in pole dance class.
Beautiful Body Project: This started with one mom’s photo of her post-pregnancy body and evolved into a movement of women celebrating their ever-changing bodies so that future generations can live free from self-suffering
Expose Project: Helps women understand that our bodies are important and deserve to be seen in all variations, shapes, and, sizes.
2. Cultivate Aesthetic Capacity
When using art as a process to change cultural conditioning and ease suffering focus on the process and insights that emerge. By developing aesthetic capacity (ability to appreciate beauty and be emotionally moved by it) we increase the healing potential.
When art expression and felt expression truly meet, or when an individual’s art fully reflects some important part of her psyche and story, she herself is moved and changed by it. ~ Daria Halprin
Two years after my first pole photo shoot, I participated in a Love Your Body Day blog carnival by sharing ten tips for increasing body love. Number nine was accepting flaws.
I used my belly as an example and wondered if I had the courage to share a picture I disliked because it highlighted my belly's bigness. Then as I gazed at the picture I noticed the trajectory of the curves. My eye traveled from my left hand up my left arm, through my hair, down my right arm to my elbow, over the hills of my breasts, belly, hips and thigh, to the bend of my ankle and stiletto and then up my butt, arched back, then down my inner arm to my hand. Then back up again. Round and round. I was mesmerized.
A recent visit to the Monterey Aquarium , where I’d been fascinated by the pot-bellied sea horses, enhanced my ability to see beauty in my belly.
Review photos of yourself that you’ve judged harshly before. Can you find beauty in them now that some time has passed? Or take a series of them exploring the shapes your body can make. Be an anthropologist. Curious. What will your discover?
Seek to transform your relationship with a part of your body you dislike or simply tolerate. What does it remind you of that you find attractive? Use all your senses and emotions. What metaphors come to mind? What positive attributes? Flabbiness feel like a soft pillow, bulges resemble a serpentine hillside, wrinkles resemble the bark of a tree and scars warrior tattoos.
3. Capture Body Bliss
My all-time favorite photo of me captures pure body bliss—Venus rising, at one with the sea and sand.
Looking at the photo I can almost swim into it, reliving the magical moment. An added layer of significance is a few months earlier I’d watched a documentary of Anna Halprin dancing with nature, one of her dressed in white rolling with the waves. I thought to myself: I want to do that someday.
Now, I regularly dance on the beach in the sand and waves.
Capture a magic moment of pure sensual pleasure to inspire you. When you witness your body enjoying herself, blissfully content and fulfilled it’s impossible not to love her a little more.
What’s your bliss? When are you most embodied and relaxed?
Breakfast in bed. In a bubble bath. Swimming or soaking in hot tub. Dancing. Cuddling with your kids or cats by a fire on a rainy day. After sex...
Radiate your passion and joy. Capture it. Love your body more. Do more of what you love.
SPECIAL NOTE: For the months of March and April, the editorial focus of the Bodybinds Blog will be ALL ABOUT TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION. While we may cover a few other topics here or there, you will notice a lot of features on the topic of TECH & INNOVATION. If you are interested in guest writing, being interviewed or featured, please email the editor at Sheena [at] PDBloggers [dot] com.
Photo Credit 2 & 4: Michelle Hayes Photography
Photo Credit 3: Painted by Kim Lee
Photo Credit 5: Molly Lyda