Why Everyone Should Have Naked Photos Of Themselves

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*one non-naked photo from the shoot

What do you do when you find things hard to write? You write the truth.

“Live outside of your comfort zone” is a quote we all see on Pinterest, hanging in friends hallways, in episodes of Girls. We’ve been told it’s where the magic happens. It is the cringe inspirational quote that I actually do think about, daily.  But those things that are outside your comfort zone are different for everyone. Some people are scared of spiders. Some people are scared of relationships. Some people are scared of being alone, for some, it’s crowded rooms. For me, it’s having to looking at a naked photo of myself.

As a strong believer of body confidence, I was actually a big phoney. How can I parade around preaching body confidence when I had none myself? I used to work for Dove, for goodness sake, I work for an empowering women’s magazine, and yet I found myself terrified at the thought of showing all the bits I don’t like, and letting people see it, and/or judge it. The thought of having to properly look at my own body really freaked me out. 

So this post is quite important for me. It might not seem huge, but for me, it’s something I’ve put on hold for a long time.

So let me tell the full story of how I got here. A few months ago I went to the pub with Laura and Megan, my two friends who also blog, write and put themselves out there. We’ve always had stuff in the common, frequently asking the same questions, feeling the same positive (and negative) feelings, all armed with an equally long self-inflicted to-do list of things we want to achieve in and outside of work. So we went for a drink and a brain download.

We were chatting about Laura’s recent naked photo shoot. I leaned in with my glass of prosecco, wide-eyed and utterly utterly in awe. You stripped off all your clothes, had yourself photographed, and are getting them framed? So that everyone could see? She was naked, in a field, to celebrate her body. For herself. I gulped on my drink, sat back and knew full well that I could never do that. I would be terrified. I’ve never seen a photo of myself like before. Wasn’t it awkward? Weren’t you afraid? Weren’t you worried about what you might see? Weren’t you worried about what people might think of you?

These shouldn’t have been my immediate reactions from someone who claimed to be ‘body confident’. These photos are beautiful, and they were art. But the truth was, my reaction to Laura’s photo shoot made me realise: I was terrified of the idea.

The story behind Laura’s photo-shoot is an inspiring one. It was to celebrate her hard-earned body transformation. She decided to go on a mission to change her lifestyle and in the process, she inevitably lost some pounds along the way. Day by day, Laura was focused, determined, happy – and it was infectious. She became the fairy godmother of getting shit done, inspiring other people, doing things for herself and having a rock solid attitude that was as hard as a brick wall.

To celebrate this new sense of self, and body-shape, Laura booked in her friend, a lady named Alexandra Cameron (a brilliantly talented photographer) to document this stage of her life as part of a #StrongAndSexy campaign. It was a milestone, and what’s better than taking seductive photos with a professional photographer to mark the occasion? Shortly after, Megan, to celebrate her 25th birthday, did the same. She stripped off and celebrated her body. She arranged for a similar type of shoot. She too, was nervous. It was a ripple effect, Laura’s shoot had been infectious, why shouldn’t we embrace our body, feel confident, and get over our niggling feelings of body perception? It appeared that facing your fears actually works.

This weekend I went to Laura’s house. Alex was there, and she had her camera. I realised that I actually deep-down wanted nothing more than to be part of the #StrongAndSexy campaign and whilst boiling the kettle I got over the fear and said I should do it. Have my picture taken. Be brave. Do the bungee jump. This wasn’t about doing a ‘sexy photo-shoot’, or being posey, or cringe or tacky. This was for me, to have naked photos of myself. And to celebrate my body so that in 50 years I can look back and think YOU LOOK ALRIGHT ACTUALLY.

This was also about saying a big EFF YOU to the beauty industry – the industry that seeps into us all from childhood. The industry that makes us feel that we don’t have the permission to be the way we are. And that we are silly or self-indulgent or ‘asking for it’ if we decide to celebrate it. I could just cover myself up and continue reading the magazines and wishing I looked different. But I know something for sure: that would be a waste.

So, the shoot itself: I felt ridiculous. Hilarious. Awkward. I am no model. I was sat on the bed wearing an over-sized t-shirt that Laura had bought from the charity shop next door for £1, taking off my bra (pants stayed on). I put it on, taking off my bra and thinking…what am I doing! I had been inspired enough to get that far, to want to join the conversation of removing the stigma attached to celebrating your body yet I was acting as if someone had asked me to dive with sharks. I didn’t have a CLUE how to pose, or act, or behave. Alex was amazing, telling me where to put my head, where to look, we chatted about other stuff whilst I was naked and I started to calm down a bit.

When I saw the photos, I felt a bit emotional. I looked…good. I’ve always been so terrified to actually embrace my whole body as it is and learn to love it. It’s strange to say, but I guess I’d never properly seen it before. I just put my clothes on each day. After seeing Alex’s photos I felt like I was letting out a big pent-up sigh of relief, and thought “you know what. This is what I’ve got. And actually I’m darn happy with it.”

In this world of the #Fappening, mobile hacking, J-Law leaked nude pics, it being REVOLUTIONARY that Lena Dunham got naked on TV I wanted to make a point. What happens if you want to celebrate yourself, for YOURSELF? What happens if it is posted out there, into a public forum, and it all goes tits up (mind the pun?) It’s OK to share them. I’ve got the pictures on my desktop. And for me, that in itself is f*cking terrifying. But won’t stop me from having them.

I decided to not post the revealing ones on here. I was going to. But actually, on reflection, they genuinely were just for myself. I will get them printed on big paper. Just having them stored somewhere I know will make me feel good.  I like looking at them. This whole experience made me realise that I don’t want to be scared of being myself, or at looking at my own body. It’s all about what you feel at the end of the day.

And if you ever come to my house, I’m sure I’ll get them out and bore you with them whilst you have a cup of tea.

If you’re interested in having this same experience (which I MASSIVELY recommend) – it’s terrifying yes, but it’s empowering doing it for YOURSELF – the shoots start from less than £100 and Alex’s contact details are here).

To keep up with her work, follow her on instagram, facebook and twitter.
Thanks for reading. X

Party Of The Year: #ZoellaBeauty

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Warning: a vey gushy blog post follows…. Strap yourselves in because I am about to unleash some soppiness.

Last night I attended Zoella’s beauty launch party. If you haven’t heard of Zoella then you must have literally been hibernating for the last four years. She is a YouTube personality slash vlogger (I always find it funny when people put “vlogger” in inverted commas, like it’s THIS CRAZY NEW WORD). But Zoe is also an author, a radio presenter, and now a BUSINESS WOMAN with her debut of new range products. Sophia Amoruso would call her a #girlboss, that’s for sure.

I had really been looking forward to it. I went to Sweden with Paul two weeks ago and when I got back to the office there was an envelope on my keyboard and honestly when I opened it I practically screamed. An invite to the #ZoellaBeauty launch. And errrr….I WAS GOING TO GET TO MEET ZOE. I tried not to act like a 12 year old, but it was difficult.

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I had been tweeting Zoe back and forth after I wrote a blog post about the news of her new book – and continued to send her virtual support from behind my laptop – because I absolutely adore the stuff she does and what she’s achieved is BONKERS and amazing on so many levels. I watch her videos in the evenings instead of turning on the TV: I find it entertaining and relaxing to just watch her live her crazy life. I think this what our generation is like – we don’t necessarily need to go through crappy TV channels looking for something to watch – we can binge on Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer. Also with Zoe’s videos there’s that feeling of she’s just like us – which makes her videos even more relatable to 20-something people who grew up with the Internet firmly wedged in our lives.

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I managed to chat to loads of YouTubers last night and honestly my first reaction was how lovely they all were. They weren’t in any rush to get out of conversation even though they must get hounded all the time. They were calm and happy to chat openly about their crazy lives – and they were FUNNY. I loll’d a lot last night. Nobody felt intimated by them – they are literally the same off-screen. You’d think they might have an aura of “celebrity” about them, considering that if you added all their followers and subscribers together you would honestly reach over 100 million. Teenagers were camping outside the venue for the hope of getting a quick selfie. I was doing the same inside, TBH.

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I was just as happy to have met them. #Hashtag. #Fangirl.

Zoe was brilliant. She chatted to everyone in a stunning floor-length dress, had a bit of nerves before giving a speech, running in and out of the photo booth and picking up her friend’s babies, who you can tell absolutely adore her. She is a real girl who was slightly overwhelmed, taking it all in that she had built up an amazing empire from just being herself in her bedroom.

I also met Carrie from Wish Wish Wish, Victoria from In The Frow, Polly from PollyAnneB, Lucy and Lydia, Niomi Smart the list goes on – and got to hang out with Megan from Wonderful You all night (I love this girl) and saw Zoe London (who’s dress was TOO GOOD – you must go and check out pictures). OH AND JAMIE OLIVER.

 

I am extremely hungover, so I must end this post now. Because in a nutshell:

  • YouTubers are amazing humans
  • Follow them all now
  • Zoe’s range is live on Superdrug sooooo check it out
  • The body mist smells AMAZING and I’ve OD’d on it today
  • The make-up bag has brightened up my day – um, a guinea pig in glasses, people
  • Zoe throws a really really good party

For more photos follow me on Instragram @girllosincity or the hashtag #ZoellaBeauty.

XOXO

ps. I have also written something for The Debrief which will go up soon. x

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You Need To Watch Obvious Child, I Mean It

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OMG YOU GUYS.

I saw Obvious Child last night at the BFI and it was so very amazing. I will try my very hardest to do it justice in this blog post – but it might be tricky – it was just so good. Here’s the embarrassing bit: I actually sobbed a bit in the middle of it, not out of prompted sadness, but because I was so relieved to be watching something that spoke so honestly to me (and other 20 somethings in the audience I’m sure). It’s like when a mate gives you really good advice and you well up and hug them. I want to hug Jenny Slate and be mates and stuff.

Since GIRLS exploded onto the scene nothing else really moved or inspired me in terms of women talking about ACTUAL IRL THINGS on the big screen – plus having a cool, down-to-earth, fun-loving females taking back control of the script. PHEW, basically. It was interesting in the Q&A most of the comments included a “thank you” to the cast and the director. Thank you for making the film. THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF ALL 20-SOMETHING WOMEN TRYING TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY IN COMEDY. (Ooooooh, an oxy-moron.)

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With all of the press surrounding women, female comedians, the tokenistic decision of just sticking “one woman” quota on every TV comedy panel, films like Obvious Child are so so important. They are like diamonds in the rough, needing to shine through all of the stereotypical bullshit and Hollywood “blockbusters” that cater to old-fashion rituals and ideals. The girls in this film chat to each other on the loo, having embarrassing sex moments, snuggle their best mates in bed, drink a bottle of vin rouge to themselves. Just like all the girls I know, basically.

Obvious Child isn’t just a film that was made for the fun of it (maybe that too)– but it was a film that actually needed to be made. A comedy about abortion, you say? How many films can you say that about?? I feel like if my grand-children watched it in how-ever-many-years-time I’d be able to explain to them all of the struggles of being a woman in this millenium that often seem too mundane to talk about seriously. But all of those struggles are proper things that need to be discussed and not trivialized, or glamourized. It’s hard out here for a bitch.

So here are some of the reasons I cried with happiness during the film:

  • It focuses on the experiences surrounding abortion (but not just the abortion): Abortion is a thread woven throughout the film’s narrative. It’s not like you sit down and it’s like “BOOM. ABORTION” right in your face. It’s about a twenty somethings life, career, love-life, family, friends – with the fact that she gets accidently pregnant. It’s so touching and real and I think everyone in the cinema – male or female – could relate to the variation of emotions on display.
  • It all started as a short film in 2009, filmed on weekends: THIS INSPIRED ME LOADS! Five years ago, Gillian Robespierre wrote the script and made it as a 23 minute short – they all had other full-time jobs (you know the drill) and worked on it in weekends. They then used Kickstarter to help fund the full feature. WE CAN DO ANYTHING.
  • The girls are hilarious IRL: The Q&A after the film was amazing. Gillian and Jenny were so so funny off camera. Sometimes this is a scary expectation when comedians have to be SUPER LOLS in real life. They weren’t try-hard though, they were just naturally very very funny women. Confident. Snarky. Rude. I want to go to the pub with them every night, forever.
  • The stand-up comedy in the film IS REALLY GOOD: Jenny Slate, the comedian/actor that plays Donna, is really good at being on stage doing jokes. Now don’t grill me on this but sometimes I don’t find female comedians funny. Just like I don’t find all men so I’m not being a dick. I just haven’t identified with many female stand-ups yet. And to be fair many thats because I haven’t discovered enough. I found her really hilarious, confident, not too try hard. Just straight up funny.
  • It has elements of classic rom-com: Like Notting Hill and Love Actually it caters to the gushy heart-warming bits that make you want to hug a teddy bear. Yes it’s technically an indie film but I loved the fact that they included some classic “romantic comedy” techniques. Like the “bumping into each other on the street” that we’ve seen in so many other rom-coms. It was the perfect mixture. 
  • It’s raw and well-produced: This is a proper feature film with budgets and famous actors and what have you. But when you’re watching it you feel like you’re just watching some mates just live their lives rolling around NYC. I like this quote from Jenny that sums up how relatable this film is:  “I liked Knocked Up a lot, and I liked Juno and Waitress. But they are the reason why we made this movie as a reaction. I enjoyed watching them, but it didn’t ring true to me.”
  • There was the cutest bits of improvisation: Although Gillian said the script was rather tight, they said there were bits of improv that gave that extra something to it. With Max’s character, his comedy shone through on bits of the dialogue that I don’t think would have worked it is was completely scripted. “You’re really hittin’ that bread”.
  • She has a job in the film! Omg you guys, someone in a film with a job! I have this thing where I always look to see in a movie if the characters have a) an actual job b) you actually seem like doing the job. I know it’s not overly “cinematic” to watch someone doing shitty paperwork but to me it makes me more realistic that they’re people and we’re watching their lives. She has a job at a bookshop that helps her pay her rent. It makes me like her character more – and believe in her more.
  • Gabby FRICKING. HOFFMAN: Gabby! GABBY! GABBBBBY. She was so good in this. There’s a bit where she rants and raves about feminism in a very VERY humorous yet scary way.
  • The men weren’t stereotyped: The main character could have been extreme in one way or another, or douche who didn’t give a shit about her – or shallow – or just floated in and out. But he wasn’t. He was just a really cool and nice guy.

OH I LOVED THIS FILM SO MUCH. Alright, alright I know. I need to get a room.

No, I Really Did Wake Up Like This

60708aecf6c6f573a6b0eb23e5f07308Women get so much stick for being Photoshopped, don’t they? We’ve seen the gifs that lurk around the Internet, normally sold like illegal drugs to a website like Jezebel for thousands of pounds just so we can sadistically watch a before-and-after photo on an endless loop. The thing is we don’t need to see them, we didn’t ask to see them; it’s basically just an example of magnified, glorified bullying. I don’t care if something’s Photoshopped or not, it’s up to the model what they want to do. If they want to look nice in print so they can show it to their kids one day then so be it! But the media don’t need to be so MEAN about it. Oddly I also stumbled across another article today about how shock, horror! A model has recently refused to have any Photoshopping and now she’s getting stick for looking so natural with one tiny wrinkle. Ew, an untouched bikini photo you say? I warn you not to look at any of my 2008 Facebook album then. Can’t bloody win these days.

So in this unfortunate situation of “we can’t win” I have started to really not give a shit. Obviously we all like looking nice on certain special occasions, and we all like toning it down, too. But I had a moment of thinking WOOHOO, because if we can’t win, then we are free! Free to look however we want to look! Because either way, it’ll be wrong! I don’t know about you, but this is actually fantastic news if you think about it. Because by not winning all the time, we are WINNING! (The mind boggles).

Recently my person style “inspo” is coming from two people: Caitlin Moran and Kristin Stewart (mainly because she wears trainers on the Red Carpet). And because: they don’t care!

Caitlin gave an awesome quote in last week’s Stylist magazine and it scared me because for a moment I thought she’d crept into my brain and stolen my thoughts.

“Oddly, I feel more insecure if I’ve made an effort, which is the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel as a woman. If you try to do the beautiful hair, dress and make-up, then you’re competing with women who have stylists and world-class make-up artists, so I’d rather take myself out of that race. I can win the ‘being slightly overweight, dishevelled and backcombed with make-up I’ve put on with my fingers’ race instead.”

I always used to feel a bit weird if I’d make a massive effort to “dress up”, and realised around my late teens that there was an interesting correlation between 1) a bad night and getting so dressed up that I felt uncomfortable and 2) a good night and me being in trainers or comfy boots. Then the penny finally dropped. Yes, I did always have a better night in flat shoes and a chilled dress because that was more me. Wearing layer upon layer of make-up and being constantly paranoid about hairspray was ruining all the fun. Last weekend I went to a nightclub in shorts, a jumper and clumpy Birkenstocks (that my sister hates) and I had a brilliant night. I danced for HOURS. I honestly don’t think that would have happened if I was stumbling around like a drunk giraffe in heels.

Basically, I am really enjoying being “out of the race” as Caitlin Moran so perfectly summed up.

 

Some Stuff I’ve Written This Week

In case you fancy a read, here are some pieces I’ve penned this week:

  • In Interview with Jack Antonoff, Lena Dunham’s lovely boyfriend – on The Debrief
  • You Don’t Have To Shave Your Legs to be Feminist – The Independent
  • Life Lessons We’ve Learned From Caitlin Moran’s New Book – The Debrief