Sinful Sunday: sea change

I remember when Wolf took this photo. Japan, in winter. I had been teaching English since the summer and Wolf came to visit me for a couple of months. We had been together for three years before I left on this project. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, I was a few months away from signing up for my very first email account, at a Thai internet cafe.

I remember feeling very uncomfortable when he took this photo; I couldn’t wait to get dressed again. He tells me that when I finally saw the developed photo (which I think wasn’t until I came home again, so 6 or 8 months later), I was still just as uncomfortable with it.

I can tell you how I felt then: self-conscious, vulnerable, and vaguely ashamed. It felt wrong to do a topless photo even from the back. It felt wrong, not exactly to be seen that way, but to be looked at, never mind recorded.

Looking at the photo today, I remember those feelings fairly vividly, but I don’t actively feel them. Now I see what Wolf probably saw all along: a fit body, with strong arms and shoulders and back. Now I like how I looked. Now I see that it’s actually not a bad photo: good pose, direct sunlight, the shadow of the drapes, the warm tones of the tatami. (Though now I would make a point of eliminating the clutter of the kotatsu (table with heater and blanket – the red and grey in front of me) and the foam “couch” (covered with a blue and white sheet, in the background).)

Then I was deeply torn between my authentic self versus what I had been taught. Now I have discarded a lot of that incorrect teaching, and this photo seems to have a clarity and emotional simplicity that I never saw before. But since the photo hasn’t changed, the clarity must be in me. I identify with this photo so much more now than when it was taken, it’s almost like this was a glimpse into my future.

sea-change

I remind myself once again that it’s my body and my choice, and there’s nothing at all wrong with enjoying how my body looks and feels. I was taught the opposite at such a young age that it was never even put into words, but no matter how deeply ingrained that lesson has been, what I was taught was utterly wrong. It is not my truth and I reject it.

(Side note: I only really became aware that I had nice shoulders when someone complimented me on them about 5 or so years ago, and I started noticing my arms and back since I started taking photos for this blog, so within the last 2 years. I’ve been attributing my tone to belly dance, and yet this photo was taken a few years before I started. Huh.)

badge Sinful Sunday

32 thoughts on “Sinful Sunday: sea change

  1. That is an interesting charting of your change of attitude to your own body and one I identify with myself. You have a lovely back and fine shoulders. I am glad you are seeing them too.

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  2. You have a very flash back. Good for Wolf, for immortalising it. And I’m so glad you can see in it what we see, now. Your pics make the internet a better place.

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  3. So I have a massive thing for backs – I find them much sexier than other body parts – and this photo knocks the breath right out of me. Your body is a work of art and I’m happy you are able to see that and feel more comfortable in your skin now. 😀

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  4. I love backs and shoulders and yours are superb!

    It’s amazing how we take lessons from our youth and develop a sense of shame. I’m glad you’ve changed your mind. Bodies are beautiful and should be celebrated.

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    1. Thank you. I wasn’t deliberately taught shame, but I absorbed my mother’s shame wholesale. The first step in healing was to discover how I came to hold such strong negative attitudes without anything specific ever having been said out loud. It’s been a lot of hard work trying to undo the damage. Being able to enjoy my body is still quite new for me.

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    1. Thank you kindly. My relationship with my body has been difficult for a long time, and it’s been such a relief to have it come more in line with the attitudes I had that were positive but only seemed to apply to other people.

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  5. The photograph alone is really lovely, but the perspective you share on yourself and your body is what’s really poignant. I’ve been on a journey to love my body (when previously, I had a really hard time accepting it) for the last few years and it’s been amazing.

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