With this body

Lucyhilmer

 

For 40 years Lucy Hilmer has been photographing herself in her “birthday suit”.  She started on the day she turned 29 in 1974; she took “several photographs that day, but the one that stood out was an image in her underpants.”

I recognized that person more than the skin-deep girl posing in the other frames of film … That girl in her underpants was vulnerable, open, awkward – she was me.

I’ve been very excited since I saw these photos yesterday.

I remembered a moment when I was about 12 or 13 on a summer evening looking at myself in the wardrobe mirror in my bedroom. I remember seeing how beautifully I was made. I saw the delicacy of my arms and shoulders, the bloom on my skin, my new breasts. I saw the exquisite perfection of it all. There were many times later when I didn’t see it, when I misused it and didn’t honour it. But there had always been that moment and it’s still with me.

Take a look at the other photos of Lucy by clicking the link below to the original Huffington Post article. And take a look too at the most popular comment by a man named David. This is part of what he says:

I find it particularly satisfying to see the strength of personality evolve over the years and to note that although the body changes, the spirit becomes stronger. It’s a welcome perspective, particularly in our youth centered culture which instructs us to fight the aging process of the body while ignoring the reciprocal benefits of time on the mind.

This is the link to the article: Every Year Since 1974, This Artist Has Photographed Herself In Nothing But Her Birthday Suit.

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Image: Lucy Hilmer

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10 thoughts on “With this body

  1. Interesting. I would be more interested in what has been growing (or not) in her mind through all these years. She seems to be aging appropriately, and obviously has no chest implants. I wish I could remember the artist who some years ago did a wonderful montage of her face from childhood through old age. If you do, let me know. I always thought it would be a fun project.

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    • I get she’s addressing what’s been growing in her mind through these photos. She says,”the photograph has been a marker for me, an indication of a deeper truth. What I’ve learned is that I’m really no different from anyone else, and the truths we share are so often hidden. What I think I’ve done in these self-portraits is to strip off a layer or two to reveal some of those truths that are universal.” It echoes one of my favourite quotes from Virginia Woolf: “One of the signs of passing youth is the birth of a sense of fellowship with other human beings as we take our place among them.”

      I also like the fact she’s stripped several times over. She’s stripped herself and she’s stripped of society’s agreements of how she should look (which in these agreements is also equivalent to how she should be).

      When I was younger it used to drive me mad when men would say to me on the street, “Smile”. “What? I don’t even own my facial expessions!” I used to think. When I think of this I understand the burqa.

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    • It takes something to even look at oneself naked. A little while ago I did a Landmark seminar called Beyond Fitness and one of the homework exercises was to strip naked and look at yourself in the mirror, noting everything. Many were not willing to do it. One woman was amazing. She was in her late 50s and she stood up and said something about her past relationship with her body which was about pain and fear, and she said she’d recently lost a lot of weight and then she said in this strange and memorable way, “Now, I really really LOVE my body”. As she said the words, I was struck that she really did and it wasn’t about losing weight, it was that she totally accepted and embraced her body and was grateful for all it provided her. And I understood she had this for life now.

      PS. I also starting reading Genesis in the Bible the other day and of course it’s about nakedness and coverings.

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      • Interesting. I’ve lost the weight I carried all my life and really do love my body as it is now versus the way it was before. I still, however, tend to see the flaws rather than the beauty. Maybe if I keep trying (and listening to the man who loves me without reservation just as I am), I’ll get there. :)

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