“I then really understood the importance of being one without all our layers in nature. I had thought about how drab the landscape and sky seemed that day, and was a bit disappointed it wasn’t a green, leafy, bright blue sky sort of day. But once I saw the women and their skin against the earth they seemed to fit in perfectly, it allowed their beauty to be the focus. It was like they were the first flowers blooming this spring season.” – photographer Meghan Mickelson
At each of my Bodysex Saskatoon retreats the women have the option of getting Nude in Nature photos taken of them. For the women who choose to have them done, the rest of us support them by watching and encourageing – letting each woman know how we see her. We pay attention to and admire their unique beauty – the contrast of a dark nipple against the back drop of the sky, the soft and inviting curve of a waist, the strength of the muscles on someone’s back, the sexy expression on a face, the presence or absence of pubic hair. We adore each other, we laugh, we cry and we carry the shared vulnerability from the circle, into the photo shoot.
Here is a small glimpse into what was captured that day :
*** All photos captured by Meghan Mickelson and shared by the women with enthusiastic permission.
And…… having fun showing some different poses 🙂
****** The following quotes and photos I’m sharing with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you to see mine. <3
“ Bodysex helped me to accept not only my physical body, but my bodily functions. I’m no longer ashamed of my bleeding and have learned to (when life permits me) allow my blood to flow out of me instead of plugging it to avoid seeing it. Watching it drip out is like wow this is fucking cool shit here! I bleed to create life.”
“This is me and I’m okay with me”
“My skin is all of a sudden saggy in many places it wasn’t before (hello 35!). rather than feeling bad/weird about that, i’m fascinated and in love with it.”
“Even more than body acceptance i’d say honouring of my body and all it is, does, has done for me.”
“Physical and emotional comfort in my own skin”
“The permission to adore and care for and nourish my body has stayed with me.”
“I hold my physical space in the world differently now. I historically have curled my shoulders down to conceal a large bosom and also protect my vulnerable core. Now, I lead with my solar plexus, my power, which makes my tits jut out, but i feel strong, not ashamed.”
“I’m so comfortable in my body that I hated and kept hidden for so long, that I have to remind myself that I can’t just be naked all the time. “
“Sex used to be lights out face hidden and now I’m lights on, legs spread “This is Me!”
“Masturbation has been a way for me to heal my body shame. By touching myself – and I mean my whole body – I have become more compassionate and less judgemental about the parts that I thought were ugly.”
When I work with clients of all ages, I often invite them to create a wheel identifying the different elements or spokes that make up themselves. I’ve learned with time that it’s best for people to choose their own spokes, centre and circumference of the wheel. I often share my own with them to give them a sense of the exercise, but it’s much more powerful when they make it unique to themselves.
As with anything we are often drawn to the finished product, but I find that the awareness that comes from the process of creating the wheel is often more important. Was it easy to make or difficult? Were certain spokes harder to fill than others or were there some that you didn’t want to put at all? Were you critical of the way it looked or sounded? Did you struggle to see what already is and instead seek out what isn’t? Were pleasure and sexuality a part of your wheel? What makes your wheel turn and who or what is at the centre?
I love looking at the simplicity in my daughter’s wheel and being reminded that there are always “happy things that make us feel better” when we’re willing to look.
At my recent Advanced Bodysex Retreat we were blessed to have a woman amongst us who offered to draw our vulvas. One by one, at random times during the retreat, we took turns sitting under a bright light with our legs spread open in front of her. Even though I’ve let go of my own vulva shame long ago, it’s still vulnerable opening this most sacred part of my body to another. As a loving sister she told me the beauty that she saw in me, and pointed out details that enhanced her drawing. The length of my lips, colour and texture.
Looking at these pictures I am in awe at the diversity and intricate beauty of all our vulvas. Like snow flakes no two are alike and with each drawing I am full of awe and wonder.
Thank you to my sweet sister for showing me, through your drawings, the light with which you see me. <3
My lover is my best friend — absolutely dependable and always shows up.
My lover sees me exactly as I am — flaws, strengths and everything in between — and mirrors these things back to me.
My lover enjoys touching my whole body and knows that every single part of me can feel erotic.
My lover pays attention to both obvious and subtle things. How my breath changes in response to a certain touch, the movement of my hips, the heat rising up my neck.
My lover knows that pleasure can be felt through each of my senses and reminds me to experience pleasure throughout the day. …….The feel of blackberries on my tongue. The smell of sun sweat. The sound of leaves clicking together in the wind. The flow of the river. The taste of a fresh peach. That’s our foreplay.
My lover likes the smoothness of my skin when I shave and the softness of my pubic hair when I don’t.
My lover is more turned on by my natural scent than any product I could ever wear. My scent just makes me more me.
My lover always wants to have sex when I do, and doesn’t when I don’t.
My lover could spend all day in bed with me and never get bored.
My lover brings me to orgasm over and over when I’m bleeding, knowing that it helps me feel better and gets the blood flowing faster.
My lover doesn’t feel bad when I want to cum quickly or when I want to edge my pleasure for hours.
My lover knows it’s much more than “just masturbation.”
My lover is me.
** photo credit to Dana Kellet
“A hospital chaplain says that the dying have a lot to teach us on how to live our lives better while we still can. One of the most frequent yet surprising regrets she’s found, especially from female patients, is the fact that they hated their bodies for so many years. Only now, when that body is truly failing, do they realize they should have celebrated it.”
A couple of weeks ago, while recovering from surgery to remove a tumor on my thyroid, I spent the night and day on the South Saskatchewan river. I’d been told that I should avoid the sun to lessen the severity of my scar, but I knew that there was nothing that could be more healing for me than the sun on my body, sand in my hair and the river under me.
When I got back home I noticed how the browning of my skin made the stretch marks on my body show up even more. Like my body’s own kind of intricate artwork I couldn’t help but think how interesting and beautiful they were to look at. This was remarkable considering that only 4 years previously, at my first nude Bodysex workshop, the part of my body that I was most terrified of the other women seeing were my stretch marks.
Even though I’ve spent the past few years getting used to and learning to really enjoy being naked, I won’t pretend that I have no more body shame. I believe shame comes in layers, and each time I expose myself and peel back a layer, I get closer to the root of what my shame is really about. My scars and stretch marks may be illustrations of the stories of my life, but the actual story is in what the illustrations signify to me. That’s the part that’s the most difficult to come to terms with and what I think we are really afraid that others will see when looking at us.
On the outside my c-section scar tells the story of me having surgery to deliver my babies.
On the inside the scar tells a story of me failing at what I wanted most in the world.
On the outside my stretch marks tell a story of a girl growing and changing through puberty, pregnancy and the normal ups and downs of life.
On the inside the stretch marks tell a story of me feeling abnormal and ugly.
On the outside, the most recent scar on my neck tells a story of removing cancerous cells so that I can live.
On the inside the scar tells a story that I’ve done something wrong for this to happen to me.
Thankfully my first two stories are no longer relevant to me or my life. I am still sad that I didn’t give birth naturally but I haven’t failed at motherhood. And when I’m not noticing the beauty of my stretch marks, I usually forget I even have them.
I know that it’ll take time for me to come to terms with my new scar, and the layers of stories that lay beneath it. But when I was lying naked in the sand along the river, I didn’t feel like I’d done anything wrong to deserve it. I felt more competent, loved, supported, beautiful and alive than I’ve ever felt in my life. Whether my scar fades or stays the same, I hope that this is the story behind the illustration that I will celebrate.