I launched my podcast project Fat Chicks On Top a few months back. I have been recording and building content since March. Its been a perfect excuse to call sexy, powerful people I have long admired and talk to them about their bodies.
The folks on the show have a huge range of careers, personal histories, sexual orientations, gender orientations, races, and romantic styles. From comics to sex educators, porn stars, nurses and software engineers, they have a few things in common. They are self-assured but not to the point of cocky. They embrace the bodies they have but do not necessarily love themselves unconditionally. They are kind. They are successful in their chosen careers.
Each interview is unique in its focus and questions. My goal has been to delve into conversations about how people come to love and care for themselves in a world that tells fat folks, queer folks, POC, and disabled folks our bodies are wrong, unlovable and incapable of being sexy.
I have just past 100 hours of conversations about these things with the folks on my show. Here is the key things I learned;
Photographs, specifically nudes, are critical in learning to love yourself.
This one kind of surprised me. I have written about how home porn helped me change my perception of my body in my book Love Letters To A Unicorn and I was aware a few of the women in my photo essay project reported that seeing photos of themselves when they felt sexy helped them love their bodies. I was taken aback of how many of the people I interviewed mentioned sexy pics as a major part of their self journey to love. From Dirty Lola to Alice in Bondageland Elle Chase to Andrew Gurza, guest after guest mentioned how taking sexy pictures of themselves changed their perspectives about their own body.
In the stories from my guests, there were some key elements about the photos which served to be transformative. These were not necessarily “boudoir” photos. They were photos where the person chose their outfit (or lack thereof) and was feeling empowered and sexy at the time the photo was taken. Some were selfies, some were taken by partners, some were at professional shoots. Regardless of the photographer, the key was that the person in the image was feeling sexy and empowered at the time.
We often imagine how we look in a given moment. To have that moment captured on film can be very personally revealing. We may be feeling sexy but that image in our head isn’t what we see. Our idealized self is confounded with media messaging about what is sexy. This means we are usually thinking “young, White, thin, able bodied” and generally photoshopped. These images get mixed in with our own self image at the moments we feel empowered.
Seeing a photo of ourselves without our internal ideals messing it up – a more unvarnished image if you will- shows us in our moment of power and beauty. To look at yourself- folds, wrinkles, boobs akimbo, missing body part – whatever you really are and that image is sexy can be transformative.
Its an amazingly simple thing… and gut wrenchingly terrifying at the same time. We all have cameras on our phones. We all have moments where we feel strong, empowered, and beautiful. Catching that on film can be difficult. For those of us who this is just a fleeting moment, it may be a hard image to get. But… after 100+ hours of talking to people who have bodies we have been told are wrong, shameful, ugly, and unlovable, it is critical we take steps to learn to love ourselves for who we are.
I’ll be honest, I don’t always love my body. Its not always a happy or safe place for me. But there are times I do feel great in it. Taking nudes has been part of that. So I’ll start…
Here is a photo including my thighs and belly at 300 pounds, a weight I never thought I would possibly get near, that I find sexy: