Mary 090216-83-2

Honey – Black Rock City USA

When I was little I was aware of beauty, and my body and my face. I was aware of my outer beauty and that it was considered important. I was aware of Jane Fonda’s body in her aerobic videos, and in awe of what a woman’s body “should” look like.

I don’t know what initially sparked my insecurities, but I remember by age 4 or 5 I thought I wasn’t thin or beautiful enough. I remember trying to be thin, not aware of the harm I was causing my heart.

Years passed and my obsessions about my beauty would come and go. People would say I was pretty, but I never really believed it.

I took gymnastics, as a child, ages 7-12, and I continued to compare my body to the other girls. Their thighs didn’t touch, their stomachs were flat. My mother dieted a lot. I saw a lot of women doing weight watchers and “trying to lose weight.” I took to this pattern myself.

I ran cross-country and that made me feel strong and like a deer. I started ballet at a pre-professional dance school at age 11. I began to follow my dream to be a ballet dancer. Many of the girls had eating disorders and were very thin. I thought I should look like that. I counted my food, and I poked, prodded, and pounded my body to be a beautiful ballerina. I was never good enough.

In college, I turned to creative and healing practices; modern dance, experimental theater, music and yoga. Through time and awareness with these practices, I began to experience deep healing. I started to feel more self-care and self love, more connected to spirit, rather than what was a reflection in a mirror. I still deal with daily judgments. I am pursuing music as my career, and this nourishes my soul.

I believe in my spirit and have experienced moments, days, and weeks where I can start to see my body free from years of judgement. We all know our society places women in a place of thinness and modes of insanely impossible archetypes. This ideal in the commercial world represents the feminine. It still exists… yes there are movements, it is getting better, but the vast majority of the archetypes still in the magazines are beauty and thinness. Why is this cycle of pain, abuse, and judgment toward a women’s body still embedded inside of us? How do we as women collectively break this cycle together?

I am starting to heal and see my body as an emerald vessel, in rose quartz, all love and light. To expose my deeply felt emotions with the temple and the sunrise will always be a shimmering light of healing in my body. 

I stood at the temple today and released 20 or more years of body judgement and shame. I am beautiful, I felt beautiful. I felt supported and healed in this ball of open light. To have my sister there, and to share my feelings, has initiated a great letting go and an awareness of love. I am loved and supported. However, I still have loving work to do every day. I want to continue this loving practice in my body, to allow myself to feel peace inside of my body. 

My prayer is that this experience will help me in my healing, so that I may love my body as it is. It doesn’t matter how big or small I am; I will always be this love. I will always be a vessel of light.

My prayer is that other women can join on this path toward re-shaping our culture’s expectations of the feminine body. I would love to one day fully embody and embrace my heart, my magnetic body as something not of just skin and flesh and bone, but of pure spirit, pure bliss, pure gratitude, acceptance and love.

Suzanne-090216-48-3

Mudita – Black Rock City USA

Audacity and the desire to ask for permission to BE, still.

For so long, I tried to receive the kind of attention on my body that would make me feel safe. I looked to you, brothers and sisters, to affirm that I was okay.

Except for today.

Today audacity came before trying to look nice, be nice, and be accepted, as my naked body tore through the lines of observers who were not there to see me. In fact, I became an obstruction, a block, in the line of sight of a body of work burning down. I received a booo as I rose to stand against the grain, to defy an expectation that the best way to be is within the confines of following the rules, like the rule that “thinner is better,” or a size zero is better than a size six.

I rose in a cultural landscape that celebrates radical self-expression, which emboldened me. Still, I did not hear applause as I rose; but I cheered inside my mind. To be inside this skin is to be bold enough to be witnessed and to take action in the name of growth, by my choosing, against the grain of externalized self-hatred.

My sister cheered me on, watching, and as protestors to my desire to stand in front began to complain, she got up close and said “Don’t worry, this is for a really good cause.” My sister, whom I used to use as the standard to which I would most harshly compare myself. She was there, and later when I saw her tears I realized how impactful it is to be transforming so boldly in front of someone who knew so much of my struggles about body image.

With the competitive mind I cultivated as a defense mechanism with my sister, at Burning Man I also experienced the pangs of desire of having other people’s bodies. “Radical self-expression” became another kind of prison in my initial interpretation. I thought I needed to look sexy or cool, using the costumes employed in this landscape to experience acceptance in expression.

I can’t seem to escape the proclivity to compare, but I can curb the act of comparison by the act of love and the refusal to reflect on our unspoken agreements to keep our structures of defensiveness or towers of conformity up.

I stand for embodiment, to embrace my sisters and brothers even in disapproving eyes, and even when I shed my judgements on others.

Let’s burn our judgements down and stand in the truth of radical self-expression.

 

ej-083116-7

EJ – Black Rock City USA

I discovered nudism when I was in college. There is a nude beach near Cape Canaveral, FL, where I could enjoy nature and study.

 

Later in life, I learned of nudist resorts in my area. I am still amazed at the freedom and unity that nudists experience.

 

Burning Man is nudist-friendly, which is certainly a bonus. The dust, like nudity, is a great equalizer.

Brian-082716-130

Zen Master This – Black Rock City USA

Growing up in New Jersey in the 1970’s as a skinny, unathletic kid, I didn’t have much of a connection with my body. I was usually fully covered, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long-legged pants.

I discovered backwoods hiking and cross-country biking in college and began to get a sense that there was a range of physical activities that complemented my intellectual and artistic interests.

Very nervously I tried skinny dipping and naturism a few times, and I enjoyed it. I gradually became a committed naturist and life model, and I’m happy to say I am now comfortable in my own skin.

Being part of the Embody Project is a natural extension of my naturist and life modeling interests.