Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's Perfect Anyway?

My adult life has been spent looking at the human body. Being an artist whose work revolves around the nude form, I have seen the body in all it's various incarnations, from thin to heavy, from short to tall.
A few weeks ago I went on vacation. Yes, a vacation. My first one in almost seven years. It was a cruise where we stopped at a private nude beach also Key West, and it was Fantasy Fest. For those of you who do not know what Fantasy Fest is just go to Google Images and click Fantasy Fest, then you'll know.
Anyway, on this trip I got to see people of different shapes and sizes and not only that, different attitudes. In both the beach and Key West, people were nude and in public. No one was worried that they may have eaten a bit too much at the ships buffet, no one cared that they are not in the same shape as in high school and well, no one cared what anyone else thought. Their self image was wonderful. On the beach everyone was nude so there were no awkward feelings of embarrassment. The people on the beach were enjoying the warm sun and the beautiful view and not concerned with what they looked like to others. They just were one with the moment, no hang ups at all. It was a nudist's paradise and the true nudists, as defined
"One who believes in, or practices going nude in social, nonsexualized and frequently mixed-gender groups specifically in cultures where going nude in the social situation is not the norm."
were not thinking about anything but the beauty of the day.
At Key West, it was an exhibitionists and voyeurs paradise! There were people watching people watching people. It was fun and free. I guarantee you there were bible school teachers at Fantasy Fest parading around in masks and a full mural on their bodies. The anonymity of the event made those people free.
So whether it is nude by choice or by situation, these people all were very happy with themselves. For at least these brief days, they were not thinking about what others would think of them.
Our culture is so wrapped up in this perfect unattainable beauty that eating disorders have become so common in America that 1 or 2 out of every 100 students will struggle with one. According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health:
* It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
* One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
* Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
* Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
* An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males

This just shouldn't be.

Why are we allowing Victoria Secret and other big corporations dictate what beauty is.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a truly beautiful person is one who can see the beauty in themselves, no mater what the scale says. As long as you are healthy, who cares if your abs are toned or gravity actually is a force you can't beat. That is without plastic surgery and that is a topic for another blog.

I have been extremely lucky to have worked with some wonderful people over the years to help create my artwork. They are in all sizes, colors and shapes, but the one common thread was that they had a wonderful self-worth.

I hope that my Red Chair Project and other photographs help people to realize that a good self image is worth it's weight in gold!

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