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.


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.)

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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.


  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.


      1. I TOTALLY understand how you felt at that time… I continue to struggle, but Mr. Minx is helping me with that every day ❤


  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. 😀


  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.


    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.


    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.


  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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