Erica – USA

My Embody Project shoot came up quickly, and I didn’t have much time to prepare, mentally or physically. I felt a little nervous about it beforehand. I wondered how Rian was going to capture me in the photos, and I wondered how my thoughts would come across in the interview. The idea was to shoot me editing Embody Project images on my computer, working the way I do every day. Turns out I found it easy to be photographed naked while engaged with my work. I almost forgot about Rian and the camera a few times as I sang along with my favorite songs. I definitely forgot to think about my body, my nakedness, and that was a surprise. After the shoot, I found myself feeling grateful, grounded, energized, and open.

My lifelong struggle to accept my body as valuable and beautiful, with all its “flaws,” in our idealized culture, has taken me to the very depth of my shadow and to the razor’s edge of my capacity to grow. Through the years it’s carried a lot of weight inside me. But I’m thankful for all the mineshafts and mirrors along the way — which have shown me my “beauty,” my “ugly,” and everything in between — because each one has forced me, by baby steps and giant leaps, to question my assumption that the reflections were true. I’ve come to see that all reflections are relative truths: when someone finds me beautiful it is not about me but them; their thoughts, their opinions, their preferences. For every person who finds me attractive there is another who will find flaws. I’m still me, but the reflection constantly changes.

What’s left for me now is that how I experience myself in the vast dynamic scope of all that I am, both as human animal and divine spark, is all that’s important. It begins, and ends, with me owning and loving me as I am now, right here, and letting go of however it is that you might see me. Over time, it’s felt like that weight has slowly been lifting from my soul. And during this shoot, it fell away completely and revealed something wonderful and simple and already present: Freedom to be.

Working on this Project, I’ve been moved to tears during shoots by watching something inside someone release into total self-acceptance. It’s joyful. It’s brilliant. It’s palpable. That’s what this whole Embody Project is about, and that is my life’s work, to continue to experience for myself and to keep sharing with others.