Jenn – USA

It was less than a minute, standing in the middle of a dark, empty bar, naked, waiting while Erica got the lighting right, before I was feeling strangely comfortable. If I had been standing in front of a mirror I might have felt differently. My eyes falling to all of the places on my body’s mirrored reflection that aren’t “perfect,” and me wishing for them to be some other way. But that didn’t happen. I felt innocent and perfect and alive standing there. Animated even. My skin was soft to my touch and as I stood there sans guitar, I found myself lightly caressing my thighs and feeling beautiful. It didn’t hurt that as Erica continued shooting pictures, she said so.

My body was electric. Warmth and energy flowed to my core around my stomach and genitals. I felt happy. I felt free! When it came time for others to return to the room I found myself hurrying to pull my clothes on, thinking how strange it was that only moments before I had felt so uninhibited.

A few days after the shoot, I started to feel afraid of who would see those pictures.  Afraid of how others might perceive them. People who know me. People who will know me. People that I will work with and for. People at school or in the audience at a show.  People who might otherwise have paid attention to my music.

There is some doubt. There is some fear that my choice to be a part of The Embody Project may have undesirable repercussions; that the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of others might adversely affect my life and future. I have felt shame. I am more present than ever to the legacy of my culture—that something is wrong with being seen in my own skin.

The Embody Project has been an opportunity for me to take responsibility for the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that I have about my body. If you had asked me a year and a half ago, at the time of my greatest struggle with an eating disorder, to take my clothes off and be photographed, there is no way I would have ever said yes. Today, being part of the project is an integral part of my recovery. My Embody Project is a gift of love, to myself and anyone else who has ever stared with cutting eyes at their own reflection and thought that their body should be some other way.