One of the most helpful resources I’ve found while learning to love my body has been pictures of other bodies. I’m not talking photoshopped magazine covers or the fitspo memes on Pinterest. I’m talking real, honest bodies; bodies in all the variety they come in, the colors, the shapes, decorated and undecorated, naked, clothed, all. the. bodies. So you can imagine how I felt when I saw that Rae Across America was holding a local body positive photo shoot, right?
Well, okay, so there were some conflicting feelings there. On the one hand, the opportunity to give to the world one of the best gifts I’ve gotten, and support Rae’s goal of funding eating disorder treatment for those who cannot afford it. On the other, well, trepidation. Natural, right? Solution: Bring friends. Except…those who wanted to go couldn’t, and those who could didn’t want to.
But this is the year of Fearless, right? That’s what I told myself…several times! While rereading the event page. While pondering what to wear. While hovering over the ‘going’ button. While checking to see if any friends had changed their minds at the last minute. At last, I determined to go. Waving goodbye to Boss, I called out, “Have a good night! I’m gonna go do something…weird.”
Weird? Try amazing! Women-and a man or two-trickled into the park, most of us a bit quiet and unsure at first, but Rae and Tasha the photographer greeted us warmly, and something about being there for one purpose made it easy to talk and share with one another.
When it came time to start shooting, there were a few worried comments here and there about bellies and legs and such; the self-consciousness and doubts that’ve nagged at us since childhood, reinforced by schoolyard bullies and society’s impossible standards.
But then magic happened. Inspired by one another, bellies were bared left and right (not mine—but that really needs to happen someday!). There were smiling, naked babies. There were very self-assured chickens who wanted to strut their stuff,too.
We stood, and sat, and jumped, and yoga-d, and lay in the grass, and cuddled close and laughed so much the photographer had to give every instruction twice. And it was glorious. And no one worried about how they looked any longer. And when it was over, no one wanted to leave. We passed around cameras and tried to fit a dozen people in selfies and lingered to talk, just a bit more.
I suspect that every one of us was changed, if just a little bit, by the hour we spent in the park. My hope is that the magic we found together will spread and bring healing and love to the ones who need it.