The Nu Project

*Warning: This post contains nudity*Warning: This post contains nudity*Warning: This post contains nudity*

I met someone the other day who told me about her aspirations to undergo a “mommy makeover.” I’m not talking about a fresh haircut and some new clothes; I’m talking about spending thousands of dollars to go under the knife.

I was shocked. It’s not that I don’t understand wanting to look your best; trust me, I do. I had my own version of a “mommy makeover” a few months ago when I tried having extensions put in my super fine hair. If my husband knew what I spent on those things, I’d probably be in trouble. It was great at first–I enjoyed the feeling of having a fuller ponytail and relished in not having to wash my hair every day, but over time, they started to bother me. Whenever my husband would give me a neck rub, I’d feel his fingers meet the little beads glued on my hair and felt…strange. Unauthentic somehow. And then I had an extension fall out in Lowe’s. I put the bundle of hair in my pocket, had a mini existential crisis, and decided extensions just weren’t for me.

All of us women are affected somehow by the much-talked-about societal pressure to look a certain way. In search of some elusive feeling of beauty, some of us get hair extensions, some of us get fake boobs, some of us buy $700 high heels, and some of us get tummy tucks. I can’t judge any woman for what she thinks will make her feel better, but I think we should all ask ourselves why we aren’t just fine the way we are.

With all that in mind, I learned about the Nu Project. I browsed through galleries of everyday women wearing nothing but their birthday suits and thought, “Finally.” What’s even better is that the featured women are in their own homes, in their element–not posed in some weird way, in some weird location. There’s something more real about that, more meaningful.

I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t see the tan lines, the stretch marks, nipples the size of pepperonis, the varicose veins, the loose skin. I did. But, as I kept clicking through, I found myself looking less and less at their bodies and more and more at their faces, the emotion in their eyes. When you get right down to it, a body is nothing more than a vehicle that helps us travel through this life. Fat, thin, flabby, tight, tall, short–they’re all just bodies. It’s the souls that fill them that matter most. Decorate that soul however you want–with hair extensions, fake boobs, $700 high heels, or a flatter tummy–but realize they’re just decorations, costly ones that may not have the confidence-boosting effect that we think they will. I remember that every time I think about that bundle of hair in my pocket at Lowe’s.

How do you feel about your body? How much do you feel society has influenced your self perception?

16 Responses

  • My older daughter was born when I was 21. I remember feeling my confidence grow along with my belly – just embracing how it proceeded me, that it was what people noticed instead of how I was dressed, etc. Pregnancy and childbirth gave me this really valuable perspective fairly young – that my body was capable of such astounding things. 10 years and another little girl later, its still so difficult daily to not be critical but, I can say that before then, I was never confident in my own skin.

  • *I have tried to post this 3 times and none of them took, so if you get extra posts from me, feel free to delete! :)*

    Thank you so much for this post
    I have always been a small girl, 5’2, 110 lbs, with a fast metabolism.
    When I got pregnant at 21 and delivered my first son in November 2009, I knew that my body would change.
    However, when I got pregnant and delivered my second son and had my second c section in November 2010, I felt defeated.

    I go through ups and downs like anyone, and today I was having a “bad body” day.
    This helped, and it reminded me of what we all need to be reminded of I think:
    That our worth is deeper than the stretch marks; our worth is bigger than our tummies.
    We all have something to offer and we need to stand tall in our power.
    Thank you. Thank you. All of these women, and all women, are incredible.

  • I love the Nu Project, what a great concept.
    I personally have struggled with self image for most of my life and it had a big (negative) effect on me whilst growing up. However since i’ve become a mother and nearing thirty, I am the happiest I have ever been with myself, inside and out. Don’t get me wrong, I still get days where I want a smaller nose or bigger lips, thiner thighs! But I am now able to look at myself and say ‘i’m not bad!’. Many years ago I stopped buying magazines. The result – I stopped comparing, criticising, wanting, beating myself up. One of the best things I did.
    I wish we could all be satisfied with ourselves. We are all beautiful in our own way!

  • I think it’s tragic how much women hate their bodies, so I’m really inspired whenever I hear about women feeling proud of their bodies – flaws and all. That said, I think it’s very difficult to learn to feel that sense of pride in a society that throws photo-shopped, cosmetically alerted images at us constantly. So, like many women, I am way too critical of my body, but I’m trying to get to a point where I see it as a vehicle for my beautiful life and the producer of three beautiful children.

  • it’s amazing to see so many beautiful photos of naked bodies that are edited but not photoshopped. it is so rare, i mean really rare, to see a photo of a nude body not airbrushed or fixed. wonderful.

  • BEAUTIFUL!!! i look at these and think how sexy these women are, every unique one, how much their partners must love to touch those beautiful asses and that wonderful soft skin, i love bodies! dimples and bushes and bellies and truth! thank you for introducing me to this project, it seriously just put a breath of pure fresh air into me. i have been feeling pretty good these days and i know i am not what society considers hot but i love being me and, like i proclaimed in my own blog post on the subject, i will say it in front of my daughters as often as possible: i love my body. (most of the time, haha. always working on that! this kind of thing helps! positive media and social media attention to real women and not airbrushed bodies. and pure joy.)

  • This is really wonderful. Sometimes all I can see is the huge scar from my four c-sections. The soft, crinkly belly skin and feel defeated by life and abandoned by youth. Then I berate myself for not seeing myself as amazing for having created these four beautiful people and also seeing that I am more than just a body bolting towards middle age at light speed. I needed to see this today.

  • This is great. I recently had my first babe and the effects on my body are really apparent. I am extremely proud of what my body is capable of when it comes to childbirth, but I am also excited to see what happens to it with a cleaner diet and moderate exercise. I will embrace whatever shape it takes, but I know I will feel my best if I am making an active effort to be healthy. I think we should all do what makes us feel most comfortable and confident but I do find things like hair extensions, fake nails and eyelash extensions make me feel a little yucky and are honestly just physically uncomfortable!!

  • Love this! Such beautiful, raw imagines. And totally rare in our society. I’ve had moments of body image issues all my life, especially after having my son. I’m finally comfortable with myself at 31 & this body that carried that boy. This post just reminded me of my reasons for not going to extremes to change my appreance. What matters is on the inside, the exterior is just stuff. Great post, Ashley!

  • I have to say I loved this post and it really hit home. I have always struggled with body image and I think the unrealistic views of female bodies we see plastered everywhere around us make it hard to remember we are all different and beautiful. I loved your view on The Nu Project how lovely you worded it.

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