We women are so hard on ourselves. We worry our breasts are too big or too small, our thighs are too thick, our wrinkles are too deep.
We all have insecurities, and we wear them like scars, trying to hide behind them, covering them up with makeup and high collars. We wish they would go away, assuming that if we didn’t have them, then we’d be happy.
This year, I’ve gotten really into nude figure drawing. And you know what I’ve discovered?
No body is perfect, but each body is stunning in its own way.
I’ve been inspired by the courage and confidence the models possess.
How is it that these women are so comfortable in their skin? I wondered.
“I’m actually not comfortable with the way I look in regular photographs,” one of the models confessed. But it’s different when I see myself depicted in a panting. I can’t believe that I inspire these great pieces of art. It makes me powerful,” she said, “like Leda or Venus or one of Cezanne’s ‘Seven Bathers.’”
In that moment, I hatched an idea.
The State of Undress Project was born when I realized that everyone has insecurities but it is possible to own them and reframe them as strengths.
When I was going thru the throes of benzodiazepine withdrawal, in addition to my physical and emotional pain, I was terribly ashamed. Our culture stigmatizes people who suffer from anxiety and depression, and rather than talk about what’s bothering us, we are encouraged to take pills to medicate our feelings of sadness and fear.
While I was healing, I decided to sharing My Benzo Story with anyone who would listen, mostly because I wanted to raise consciousness and try to help make sure that no one else went thru what I was going thru. Once I started to share about the specifics of my personal journey, women started to seek me out to share their stories. Not just women who had been damaged by benzodiazepines, but women who have other invisible issues: eating disorders depression, anxiety, rare autoimmune diseases; women who have endured grief and loss and pain.
For the last year, I’ve been painting colorful portraits & figure studies of women who identified themselves as living with invisible obstacles.
These women had to be willing to write up a short piece in which they clearly explain the invisible challenge they face — and they had to be willing to pose in some state of undress — so that I could paint their likeness resulting in an impressionistic piece of art.
Posing semi-clothed requires immense vulnerability, bravery, and trust. I feel fortunate that these woman trusted me with their stories and allowed me into their lives in this most intimate way.
I believe that every woman is beautiful, and I’ve collected the stories of women who understand that our flaws are part of who we are, women who are excited by the idea that they are helping me to create a collection of images depicting many kinds of female strength.
It is my hope that during the process, each woman feels sexy and strong and empowered.
And that maybe, just maybe, they will come to believe that they are worthy of being the subject of a work of art.
Because each of us is a work of art.
Intrigued? Interested in participating? Contact me and we’ll get started.
tweet me @rasjacobson