Sitting here in the hospital for the fourth day in a row while my son heals from major surgery for scoliosis, I am worlds away from my studio. My mother asserted a couple of days ago that I must be missing being in the studio. That sounds logical, but I realized that I hadn't considered the possibility whatsoever. I've been here. Only here. Or at home, collapsed, trying to grab an hour's nap and perhaps some decent food before returning here.
Before I left for Dylan's surgery, I wrote a bunch of blogs and scheduled them to be published during the week so I wouldn't leave y'all high and dry in case you were wanting your fix of "Exploring Women's Bodies"! (Thanks to those of you who read it so regularly, by the way. I'm truly honored.) Anyway, I have a few minutes right now because Dylan is asleep, so I thought I'd check in to see how things are going in blog land.
I notice that people have read the blog about Valley more than anything else I've published before. I think she has quite a lot of friends who love her dearly. Very cool!
I also noticed, gasp!, that my entry about my nude self-portrait is about to be published this afternoon. I notice myself having some feelings about that! I feel shy about showing the painting publicly (even though I was coy and am showing it upside down. That'll fool 'em! Yeah, right.) It's just a bit embarrassing to show my body in all its glory on the internet, nude, with my face attached. It certainly gives me even more respect for all my models who have come before me down this path.
So what about it is such a big deal?
Well, I guess we do a lot in our society to keep ourselves from showing our bodies. We wear clothing. We undress in gyms in dressing rooms. We shower in stalls (at least women do - I have heard that men often have common rooms for showers - and have seen that in movies and prisons - where the lack of privacy is shown to lead to rape more times than not - not accurate, according to research I've done, but it makes for more compelling drama - see what happens when you're naked around other people? Rape.). We decorate the parts of ourselves which are visible to the public - we wear make-up on our faces, including foundation so our true skin color and texture aren't even visible; we do things to our hair so it looks "just so"; we paint our fingernails and toenails; we shave our legs and underarms; we pierce parts that might, just might, become visible. So with all that effort that goes into covering up/decorating/hiding, of course it makes sense that we'd feel uncomfortable about having our actual bodies (the undecorated parts) seen in public.
In my self-portrait, my whole front side shows. My breasts. My face. My legs. My pubic area. My feet. Not my hands - they're behind my head. I don't have on make-up. I didn't paint my toenails. I have no memory of whether I'd shaved my legs or not (though you can't tell from the painting - too much texture). You can tell that I don't wax anything. I'm just me. There for you to see. A bit uncomfortable. Feeling exposed. But doing it anyway, because why shouldn't I? It's my body. MY body. My BODY. Boldness has a power all its own. This feels like the next right step, so I'm taking it. With some trepidation. But taking it anyway.
One of my mottoes is "Feel the fear, but do it anyway."
So here I am! (Well, actually I don't have an image to post today because we're still in the hospital, and I haven't taken one right-side-up completely finished. That will come soon enough. Til then, you can look at the upside-down one from a couple of days ago.) Exposed. Open. Vulnerable.
What a trip.