It was fun watching Rachel manipulate the hula hoop all around her body. She made it look so simple and easy. It looks like a great exercise to keep limber. My back has been stiffening up lately, so I'm thinking I should learn to do this so I can loosen it up.
Here's what Rachel wrote on her blog about her experience (notice how beautiful her writing is!):
I’d like to flatter myself and tell you that I was asked to do this. The truth is that when I first saw Susan’s paintings hung in the gallery, I was mesmerized. I spent a long time gazing at them and reading all of the stories written by the models. Maybe it was all the wine, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with every single woman I saw.
Each had a story to tell but one of the things they all seemed to have in common was that they did this in recognition of their own pain. We live in a high pressure society that imposes standards on our own bodies, and places borders on beauty. Most of us grew up believing these lies and whether we have grown to understand it or not, it affects the way we see ourselves and it affects the way we see others. The stress. The self loathing. The insecurity. I couldn’t help but feel like I was looking at myself. I could feel their pain.
It wasn’t until I saw the rather large woman in “Beauty with a Veil” that it became too personal to ignore. Her stretch marks, her folds, her sagging parts. That woman owned up to her body. She posed, and Susan found elegance in her form that most of us would have overlooked because of the way we have been taught to think. I was not only seeing myself, I was seeing my mother. That was when I approached Susan about photographing me naked.
The last few years have marked the span of an important metamorphosis. Before I moved to Richmond, I was living my life for other people. I went to the Christian university my mother wanted me to attend. I let my boyfriend cut off my hair and convince me to start straightening it. I had a job that was paying me $7.50 an hour with a 45 minute commute. I was underpaid, oversexed, miserable, and being told that I was a sinner.
Masochistic behavior, abusive relationships, and confusion had piled up on me. My body was no longer my own. I fed it to the wolves, willingly.
When I moved to Richmond, I made a hard choice. I promised myself I’d stop living my life for everybody else. I am here in this body now, and it belongs to me. I am still learning what that means.
This is part of my process.
It is so moving to me to understand people's motivation for posing for me. And so glad I've been called to do this work. It is powerful stuff.