Naked Embrace

Today, when I logged onto Facebook, I saw that my twin sister had posted an image to a photographer group that I am also a member of. The weekly challenge was on the theme of children and embrace. Her image was a beautiful image of her children, my nieces.  They were both naked, as they tend to prefer to be most of the time, with their arms delicately wrapped around each others backs. I was utterly shocked when I read a particular comment. I had to read it three times before I was sure.  The person was trying to shame my sister for the image, suggesting that the image was indecent because a portion of her eldest's bum was in the frame. He said that he would be OK with the image if they were boys but suggested that it was wrong because they were girls!

I instantly jumped to her defence and challenged the guy on his sexist comment. He was promptly removed from the group and upon my request to the group founder, Twyla Jones, the group policy's were updated to include no body shaming.   

I couldn't help but feel a simmering satisfaction but that it wasn't really enough. That I wanted, needed, to do more. I have long been an advocate of the need to de-stigmatize the naked female body and to reclaim from the male gaze, believing that one day my own children, when I choose to become a mother, would not have to face the same stigma around their bodies as I have. I firmly believe that photography is a powerful tool for such a radical act. 

These images, as intended, speak to mothers instinct to protect her daughter yet the equally instinctive knowing that she will one day have to face the challenge of the world on her own. Allowing the wild, freedom loving, and boundless nature of her live and breath fully takes great courage. It is a story that countless mothers are struggling to tell, and sadly, defend. I hope that by the time I become a mother (and if I am blessed to mother a daughter) things will have changed. Until then, I hope to continue to create art that empowers women and girls to live freely. 

Jen Holden