Working with Erica is like working with a fairy Godmother. I had wanted to utilize my first Burning Man experience to face my fears of my body. I met Erica on my first day at Burning Man while she was putting finishing touches on the poster for the Embody Project.
Her presence is one that is both nurturing and inspiring. I felt not only safe to explore how I would create the photo shoot but a kind of giddiness that what she and I would create would not only be powerful for me but important as a larger statement. This to me is the effectiveness of Erica’s portrait style. I felt empowered which seems to be the larger mission of the project. I also felt free to feel the big emotions that come along with such a deep revelation.
This wasn’t a mere naked photo shoot, but a baring of the soul. Through her encouragement,, especially in the moments where I was afraid to stand up naked in front of a large crowd, she was the one, eyes bright and daring, who reminded me that not only my body but my vision for myself was important.
I shared a deep bond with her that day and would encourage anyone, which could mean everyone, who wants to break out of culturally induced shame, to work with her or stand up alongside her and reveal the power of being witnessed in this way.
I struggle every day with my body type despite being a relatively successful figure model. As a participant in the Embody Project I had hoped that my struggles would abate. Through Erica’s enthusiasm and acceptance of who I am and what I could bring to the project I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome and how I am beginning to newly accept myself in the whole. She made it completely comfortable opening up my feelings through the interview and the shoot was phenomenal. The resulting image truly express her passion, vision, and talent but more importantly captured the melding of my perceptions with the realities of me as a person. The Embody Project was one of the most positive and fulfilling experience I’ve had concerning personal growth. I still struggle but the more I view my page the more I smile.
What really struck me is how much Erica treated me like an artist. Every model is an artist, too. I have done figure drawing modeling for five years as therapy, always having “stage fright.” So I was very anxious about posing nude for photography. Amazingly, that wasn’t even on my mind at the waterfall and Erica took my feedback and ideas seriously. I must say I looked damn good! I cried when I first saw Erica’s photo. All of my friends loved what I did and are very supportive. Erica showed that all of us are artists in life and The Embody Project is simply a collage of those experiences.
Whenever I begin to feel self conscious or worry about the way others are viewing my body, I think back on my experience with the Embody Project and immediately begin to feel comfort and confidence. I’m reminded of the unbelievable amount of love that I have for myself and for my body. The Embody Project has had an extremely positive impact on my life and for that I’m forever grateful.
Participating in the Embody Project forced me to put to words the confusing relationships I’ve had with exercise, my body, and cultural expectations. Both the experience of writing the essay and seeing my photograph gave me the opportunity to explicitly define, for myself, my ideas about strength and femininity. Beyond that, it was incredibly fun to strip down with some dear friends and lift heavy weights! Erica was a complete joy to work with, and I felt supported, loved, and respected every step of the way. I am proud to be a part of the Embody Project.
As an already open person who has become fairly comfortable with nudity in my recent years, this project seemed ideal for me. There was some discomfort, but the whole experience was phenomenal. Erica is wonderful to work with, and she really allows freedom in the shoot, which makes it feel completely natural. I think the most difficult part was digging into my psyche for the essay, knowing that I’d already come out victorious for having shared in a sort of universally encompassing realm of vulnerability and expressing that everyone really is beautiful.
The Embody Project was a lens into the vulnerable me, the authentic, fierce and blossoming me. The one I have been reluctant to show, perhaps even see for myself. Working with Erica was a balm on my heart, a gesture, a huge bouquet of self-acceptance and care for the divinity and perfection in each of us. I offer deep gratitude for your work, your artistic eye, and loving presence where all is illuminated.
Participating in the Embody Project was incredibly healing and empowering. I am so impressed by the way that Erica holds each participant with such presence, love, and compassion. Though I was initially quite intimidated by the idea of participating, I felt so supported and honored in my process– that by the end of it, all my fear had been transformed into deep gratitude and joy! I am grateful for this opportunity to discover and love myself more deeply through being witnessed in my raw expression and vulnerability.
What stuck with me the most from my experience with the Embody Project didn’t have anything to do with me being naked and photographed. It had to do with my realization of how women are storied in our culture. As a male in our western society, I had never been invited to dance with the fear, judgement and objectification that women feel, like I was through my participation in this project.
Participating in the Embody Project opened my eyes to myself in a broader, more dimensional way. After seeing myself, then seeing and reading about everyone else who participated, I realized how unique we all are, how alike we all are, and how universal the struggle is to find comfort and acceptance in how we express ourselves through our physicality, no matter what we look like. The human journey is so intensely personal, it is solo within the context of our thoughts and feelings, yet we are all connected in the quest to find purpose and meaning. There’s a certain peace in knowing that.
My Embody Project experience was a way for me to recognize the support from the Universe that my story, expression and body is influential on international levels and is powerfully needed during these times on the planet! Truly, life enhancing and magical!