sexuality and body image


In my wanderings this morning I ran across zenslut. You know what it’s like when you run across a new journal or blog at what feels like exactly the right time? Everything clicks, and the one entry at the top actually catches your eye and makes you read further and in doing so you gain new respect for the blogger or new ideas or new links to explore and really, I like to think of it as digital spelunking because you just never know what treasures you will find.

But back to zenslut. I was at first intrigued, and then fascinated, and then even more as I read her journal entry for today. She’s posted some nude self-portraits, and has this to say about them:

anyway, while i was taking the shots, it occured to me that my doing nude self-portraits isn’t just like any other photographer taking nude photographs of themselves. because of the body i have, my doing it ends up being a radical feminist statement about body image. which, really, i’m okay with. but i got kind of pissed off about it while i was taking the pictures, too. i mean, jesus, why SHOULD the fact that i’m fat change the way my self-portraits are categorized? why does it have to be a radical statement at all? why is it that my fat suddenly makes my photographs seem more daring, more difficult to look at, braver, or more political? it’s really sort of shitty that this still the reality we’re faced with.

Scarier still, to realize that a) it wasn’t always this way and b) a lot of the reasons this thinking still persists is because we women have generally internalized the message and learned to hate our own bodies.

She goes on to say, and this is the part that got me thinking the hardest:

the thing is, i really love how i look. i look at myself naked in my mirror ever night and think, “goddamn, i’d fuck me. i’m hot.” what makes me sad (though more frequently “angry”) sometimes, however, is that while i’m perfectly happy and comfortable living in my body, i’m not everybody. the fact is, a lot of people would see my body and NOT be interested in a dating/fucking/whatever relationship simply for the fact that i’m fat. it makes me angry to be reduced down to that one characteristic, but it also makes me sad for them because honey, i know what they’re missing out on.

This twigged a part of my brain. I’ve fought with poor body image most of my life. For every time I look in the mirror and think “yum”, there are two times I look in the mirror and think “Fuck, good thing I’m not dating right now”. I have people tell me I’m a very pretty lady. It’s just tough to believe, some days. Reading zenslut’s entry, and viewing her pictures inspired so many emotions in me: awe at her bravery, envy at her self-image, shame at my own, determination to work harder at a better body image, and a sense of kinship, because I think that men who look at me and see only the fact that my body won’t end up on the cover of Cosmo are also missing out on something. A very enthusiastic and sensual partner.

I love zenslut because she can do what I can’t always manage to do – look in the mirror and say “goddamn, i’d fuck me. i’m hot.”

About the author

Vikki McKay


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