Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Permission from me to me
To feel the pleasure of my own body
To run naked on the beach.
boobies out. booty shaking.
For the world to see.
that this is Me.
because this has
moved beyond a twisted version of vanity
a Wild Woman’s seeking of unconditional
Love for her own Body
An acceptance and
In the face of an oppressive patriarchy.
Processing generations of body shaming and
A body starved.
censored and controlled.
I stand up for myself and my Sisters and I say.
because I am
I wrote this poem as a reaction to the continuous questioning of my body on my Instagram feed. But Annette, “Why so naked?”
At first, yes that good old hypocrisy of vanity and validation through likes and comments to make me feel good because for so long I wanted to strip and shape and shed and mould this thing that felt so far away from me into an idealised version that would book the model gig or make the boys like me. It has taken, and will continue to take, a lot of work to wholly love and accept my body. And as an act of defiance, I will show myself in a state of surrendered freedom because it is in this vulnerable expression that I face my fears as well as take the temperature of where we are at on this subject matter. And I gotta tell you, we are red hot. The fact that my dad (who by the way is the least judgmental, liberal, incredible human) got so fired up, confirms to me that we are touching it. That this is the work. This is not about your reaction, your discomfort, your jealousy or your concern “for my professional career.” This is not about your worry that I may be sexually objectified (too late for that – and still happening regardless of this post.) I am asking that we (as a society) dig deeper into our judgments and find out why the naked body triggers us so? What is it about nudity that creates such a buzz? My post got more attention than all the others and it lost me many followers. There is no denying that it will send some kind of message and what I am trying to do is explore where those messages came from and what there purpose is? When did we make nudity so shameful? So sexual? I am brought back to a moment last summer whilst swimming with my fellow witches in Woodstock, New York, where we were asked by a woman to please put our clothes back on, “there are children around.” Were we not birthed from a vagina? Did we not latch onto the breasts of our mother? How far have we come from our natural state of being, being human? How disconnected we are from this life-giving, life-sustaining miracle that should be honoured and celebrated, not shunned and deemed offensive.
Experience, after experience, I am sinking into the sad realisation that women are still very far from having sovereignty over their own bodies. White old men in America are using our freedom of choice as a political pawn to further their own agendas. Facebook and Instagram are cracking down on nude images, censoring cervical mucus as if it were some dirty secret. Yet, cervical mucus is part of how we all got here in the first place. While I was building this website I did a general check-in with what people thought of my banner image. My first choice of a group of Earth Goddesses amongst the trees in their raw, unrestricted states, was just too much for the eyes to see. “It’s distracting,” “It’s just too much.” “Honestly, you are going to lose a lot of customers.” When a culture objectifies, shames, and controls a female body there is a rupturing between us and our connection to the sacredness of who we are. When our society imposes their ideas of what our bodies should weigh, should look like, should smell like, should taste like, should behave like, we become completely severed from who we truly are. This disembodying is called trauma. Trauma that keeps us up at night questioning if we ate too much that day, if we should post that picture or not, if it was okay to sleep with that guy or not, if this outfit was asking for it or not.
All this doubting because we are living for validation that comes from outside of ourselves. Women are conditioned to be “nice girls” that are kind and polite, instead of being taught to say no thanks I do not want to sit on Uncle Dave's lap. We are taught to swallow our discomfort for the sake of the other person and sure enough we slowly become boundary-less. We are taught, through subliminal marketing, that our shape is of great value to others and so we fall into an unhealthy obsession with this thing we call our body. We are stunted in our development, having little to no self-value, because we are desperately trying to keep up with an imposed (and often impossible) standard. When we do not see ourselves reflected back in mass media, we completely doubt our worth in society. This is especially true for marginalized women of colour, women with bigger bodies or transgendered/non-binary folk. Yes, the industry is finally becoming more inclusive and I celebrate these improvements. And in the same breath, I believe that for a lot of us the shame and fear we carry are often our parents, our parent’s parents, our parent’s parent’s parents and so on... Our cells carry memory and as I tend to my roots and work within the darker parts of my womb and female lineage, I am aware of the reality that this work is not just my own but generations worth of unresolved trauma. Generations that did not have the luxury of time (or opportunities) to explore their deeper feelings, let alone commit to unraveling their bodily traumas.
My nana looked at me quizzically when I asked her of her womb stories. “Well, your mother was breach so I was put to sleep and when I woke up she was born.” Our wombs have become something we no longer have full control over. Something to serve a purpose then disregarded unless some issue arises. The truth is, our wombs are portals and our birth stories are important imprints which we carry throughout our life and the lifetimes after us. I am exploring womb wisdom because I am tending to my foundation, the place where all else grows from. Ancient practices such as Red Tent gatherings, menstrual huts and rites of passage were deemed evil (along with the witches) and so the stories and practices were buried deep, deep underground and it is only now, in this time of ecological and social collapse, that there is a yearning to turn back to these ancient ways of communing and being. We are seeking wisdom that is not found in libraries or at university or in the doctor’s rooms, we are hungry for something to nourish us, ground us and remind us who we are and where we came from.
And then, in direct contrast to this primal, esoteric exploration comes our modern media mayhem. A world of scrolling imagery and instant gratification. Of superficial seeking and selfie obsessing. An ego-boosting playground for us to meet with our desires and dreams, our illusions and delusions. Relentlessly expressing ourselves on this peculiar platform that has stolen a billion people’s attention. How do you choose to play this game? What are the rules? Who are you really posting for? I am confronted with whether there is actually such a thing as an “authentic” post. My honest belief is that yes, there is magic in this technology and that there are places of genuine connection. Either way, real or imagined, you choose the story. And so, I turn to Instagram because like the perceived, perfect life it portrays, it allows me a short-lived moment of expressive freedom in a world that is not so accepting. A space to rebel behind the safety of a glass screen and an ability to reach thousands of people through a single post. Returning home to South Africa brings with it a day-to-day facing of the fear of my own safety. Insidious anxiety that creeps up in and onto my body. Every move I make is calculated from the time I walk to my car, to the time I stop at a pedestrian light, to the time I park, to the time I am back in a building. Hawk-like vision, head-spinning on my neck in an owl-like fashion. Scanning my surroundings for a threat of any kind. Becoming shamefully aware of my prejudices. This fear intrigues me, projections of unresolved traumas, I am for a moment met with a small understanding of what it means to yearn for a basic need. I was reminded by a woman I met recently that South Africa is the root chakra of the world, table mountain, the foundation personified. What better place to work on my roots than in this space of confrontation with my own sense of safety?
And so we meet it, our fear, (real or perceived) - but the question I beg, is how do we metabolize it? How do we unravel the systematic oppression internalised in our bodies? A legacy of abuse and neglect that lies in almost all of our lineages, black and white, privileged and disadvantaged. The most common way I have noticed is to disembody, to live in a severed state where we numb ourselves from the pain, shame (and pleasure) of having a body, particularly a female body. Where we begin to further perpetuate neglect through acts of denial, intoxication, overworking, over-consuming, saying yes when our bodies clearly signaled no. Where we deny ourselves of the pleasures of life - glued behind screens, not leaving the house, not doing the things that make us feel like a badass and not blissing out on the miraculous function of a body that can reach multiple orgasmic states. In many ways I believe that our pleasure is our freedom. When we fully embrace our naked, juicy, luscious selves, healing occurs because we are becoming whole again. When we look at those places we are too afraid to look, when we feel things we are too afraid to feel. When we come back into our bodies. And so I encourage you to seek out the things that activate you, that bring you pleasure - whether it be romantic movies and a tub of full-fat dairy (or vegan) ice cream or a walk on the beach and a freezing swim. Perhaps you want to run naked with your boobies out and booty shaking, or dance at a Full Moon Flow with your tribe and let the sound of the drum reverberate through your entire being. Maybe it’s a slow sensual self-pleasure practice or a hot bath and back massage from the one you love.
I encourage you to go for it!
From my naked heart to yours,