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The “Love Your Body Now” Project: Healing Body Image Issues Through Fine Art Nudes

photography, self-image, womens body image issues, love your body, midlife, midlife women,

I tagged this photo, “Beth’s magnificent fanny.”

I’m very excited to announce that photographer Beth Sanders and I are combining our super powers to create a positive body image project called, “Love Your Body Now.”

The germination of this idea began two years ago when I was feeling disgruntled with my body.

After the birth of my two daughters and heading into peri-menopause I weighed twenty pounds more than I did prior to becoming a mom.

I spent a great deal of time thinking about my stomach, to whom we’ll refer as Gertrude.

I prognosticated about how wantonly she hung over the top of my now too-tight jeans. The way she lay next to me when I slept on my side as if she were a small, incorrigible puppy. And worse yet, the way Gertrude seemed to jelly-wobble during sex with the hubs.

In my 20s I’d had fine art nudes taken in order to see my body as it really was, not the way my critical eye (and an ex-boyfriend) saw it. When the photos came back I hesitated to hope that what I saw before me was Beauty?

I ventured forth and showed my photos to just a few trusted friends. They lavished my images with their approving gaze and so it was through the photos, and the kind, loving compliments, that I was able to love my body more, hence myself.

I believe how we feel about our bodies in particular is ineluctably tied to how we feel about (and treat) ourselves in general.  

So with Gertrude in tow, I decided to try the fine art nudes again, at 46. What the fucackta?

This time out it wasn’t an immediate lovefest, but after I selected a few of the “better” shots I showed them to my husband and my trusted friends. And then to everyone here.

The feedback was incredibly positive and I ultimately came to the same conclusion I’d come to in my 20s. Older, wiser, more to love. Still beautiful.

The experience was so positive I thought, “Why can’t I do this for other women too?” Which is why I called Beth.

Beth’s incredible photography runs the gamut from capturing life’s big moments, wedding, engagement, the odd naughty boudoir to shooting subjects in her “Be” series, the tagline? “What if an image of you as your Secret Self could help you recreate your lost dream?

As Beth and I discussed how this project would unfold I was startled when she unconsciously criticized her own body.

Beth’s body is the kind I’ve always admired. Athletic, with lean, strong muscle. Yet here she was, finding fault, just like I’d done with my body?

She was particularly unsure of her breasts, having been in love with a man who told her he didn’t think he could marry her because “the boob thing” was “holding him up.”

He really wanted her to get a boob job. (He and my ex should date)

Fortunately Beth didn’t get a boob job and she absolutely didn’t marry this joker. Bullet dodged.

It occurred to me that Beth should be the next subject in our fledgling project and that she should take nudes of herself. Without a moment’s hesitation she agreed. This is the email I received the following day:

“I shot myself today. Not much luck. I actually thought I looked ok until I saw the damn photos. 50-year-old loose skin. wtf? Anyway, I didn’t like my lighting and my foot kept cramping up, so I am going to try again tomorrow.”

The next day I received the photos Beth “kind of liked,” which includes the photo above. It was my turn to say wtf, because for 50 or any age, Beth is stunning:

To see the remainder of Beth’s photos and read the rest of the story CLICK HERE.

Shannon Bradley-Colleary

Shannon Bradley-Colleary blogs at The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful. She's also a contributing blogger on The Huffington Post. Her posts have landed her on The Today Show, NPR, CNN, Raising America with Kyra Phillips, Fox11News and more. She's been published in The DailyMail Online, Babble, Blogher and MomsLA. Her book, Into The Child: 40 Weeks in the Gestational Wilderness was named one of the Top 100 Indie Books of 2012 by the Kirkus Review. Her book, Smash, Crash and Burn: Tales From The Edge Of Celebrity, details her life as an L.A. Wacktress (waiter/actress) in the early 90s; including her relationship with Brandon Bruce Lee and a her tête-à-tête with David Schwimmer. She kisses and tells. Shannon is thrilled to be a monthly columnist on Midlife Boulevard.

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