Exposure

It’s not my intent to shock or offend, and while I’m honored to be featured in this art, It’s not about wanting to be looked at.

Perhaps there’s a hint of rebellion for good measure, but the truth is, too many people in my life have taken issue with the fact that I chose to participate in this. For me, it was a positive thing that I would prefer to own. 

My initial reaction to this photo was embarrassment. I had to ask myself what I was afraid of. Exposure? Being found out and seen for what I am? The worst happening? I’ve already been there. My humiliation runs infinitely deeper than a few rolls on my belly or someone’s opinion.

This first photo made me realize that.

I lost my mental capacity, freedom, health and autonomy. I’ve been sliced open wide awake, both literally and metaphorically, and bled dry on the alter of someone else’s pain. 

Hell, someone even profited by publishing their self absorbed version of the most personal chapter of my life without my knowledge or consent. It’s available for the world to read. I couldn’t feel much more exposed.

A few nude photos won’t break the bank. If anything, they represent acceptance, self possession and a learning to coexist with grief, trauma and pain. Those things are of greater value to me than my pride. I would rather celebrate than hide them. 

The energy of this group was electric and flows through these photos. They capture an authenticity that outweighs the the sum of their imperfections, which is incredibly compelling, in art and life.

Not all battle scars are easy to embrace, mine are scary and ugly. They still hurt, and would much prefer to be ignored. Each woman here bears her own. 

We live in a world full of beautiful things, but life doesn’t happen in the big moments we work so hard to beautify and share with others. The range of what makes us human is found in the spaces between. The silence that cradles each note, the stillness before movement, the pause between breaths. Somewhere in the neglected margins are the moments where we just are, without fear or judgement.

That’s what I see in these photos.

Jess, you have a special talent for capturing those moments and the connections they allow.

by Leah Helman

photography @littlegreeneyes

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