• The #LoveYourBodyNowProject – Healing Body Image Issues Through Fine Art Nudes (Shannon)

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    As many of you know I’ve been seen at age 26, then at age 46 naked round the world the last several weeks. Starting with my first naked post Am I Really Fat? which was also published in The Huffington Post. Followed shortly by Walk The Walk, Naked Lady, which was also published in HuffPo and featured in the British Daily Mail.

    There’s been some hate mail. The Brits were especially harsh calling me a “Silly Cow,” saying “She’s about as deep as a contact lens,” (have to admit that’s clever), many telling me to “Get a life!” and several “Shame on you!”s.

    But the one that really got me was from a man accusing me of being an anti-feminist because I (not the media as I’d indicated) objectified myself by posting my nudes. For a moment he almost had me. But  then I realized it wasn’t my truth. This was my response:

    “I don’t agree. When I say the media objectifie­s women I am talking about how the female body is portrayed in bits and pieces. Breasts alone. Legs alone — with no face, no entire body.

    “Or entrapped in lingerie meant to engage the male eye. My photos are of a whole woman. Me. With no photoshopp­ing, no hair and make-up, no lingerie. Just me. Unadorned. I hope the photos are beautiful. I hope they’ve captured me as a whole woman at each age. They are my gift to myself. And I hope, in sharing them publicly, that they are a gift to other people who see their own bodies in pieces. A belly that’s too big. Breasts that sag. Thighs that rub together. All the things I nitpicked in myself until these nudes came back and I was able to absorb them and see myself whole. I hope this article and these pictures will encourage other people to see themselves whole.”

    There was one comment so beautiful I have to repost it. While the compliments are directed toward me they feel universal:
    From Kenneth Alton:

    “At 26, your silhouette was quite lovely, the play of flesh and bone along your back and buttocks flattering­ly delicate and feminine (which interestin­gly makes your shoulders seem a bit strong in contrast in that image/pose­).

    At 46, the earlier strength of shoulder now finds its inherent balance; if the silhouette is less delicate the play of flesh and bone is more suggestive of feminine strength and maternal solidity.

    One is a fortunate, almost errant, flower in bloom; the other the curve of rock, the swell of earth, without which no flowers would ever bloom.

    I have often considered it a trifle foolish the way that shallow youth is considered inherently beautiful. There is such a terrible beauty which only age brings, a depth of power that only deepens the sense of mystery that utterly, completely­, captivates­.”

    Here is my last nude salvo (until I’m 66 then it’ll just be one nude Bacchanal) meant as a Valentine to women (and men) with body image issues, both profound and garden variety. If you’d like to see more Love Your Body Now: Healing Body Image Issues Through Fine Art Nudes go HERE.

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    115 comments > Write one

    1. Alexandra says:

      This…tears to my eyes.

      Why dont we love ourselves more????

      So sad, and we are so beautiful: this is a work of soulful, deep art, Shannon.

      So very perfectly beautiful.

    2. Sandra says:

      I am so with Alexandra on this, and so not with the critics who called you a silly cow. You are not! I must say, I’m not often moved to…well, to anything, but this really struck a cord. Thank you for being so brave and completely beautiful inside and out.

    3. Unknown Mami says:

      I always look back and love the body I had in the past even though I never loved it when I had it. It’s just another way of not fully being in or embracing the present.

      That comment you shared is beyond beautiful.

      • Shannon says:

        Living in the present moment. That’s the biggie. And I couldn’t believe that comment. One of the most beautiful things I think I’ve read. I’m going to wait in line for his book, if there is one.

    4. I look at my 96 year old grandmother and I know that NOW is my time. So many women need to see your video. Well done!

      Now sharing….

      • Shannon says:

        Thanks so much!! My grandma is 98 and I suspect I many have her genes. If I ever complain about pushing 50 she reminds me she didn’t learn to water ski until she was 65. Carpe Diem!

    5. Marci says:

      This is lovely, Shannon! Where do we learn to hate our bodies? It is sad. I was very thin at 26, but still did not love my body. My breasts were too small, I thought I had cellulite on my thighs, etc. Now I know I was too thin, but I wouldn’t mind being about five pounds less than I am now. Oh, and in better shape. LOL In another 20 years, I’ll look back and wish for this body. Sad, but true.

      • Shannon says:

        You are not alone Marci. Look to your left and right anywhere and there’s a woman next to you feeling the same way. We must love and support each other. Thanks for reading and commenting. xo

    6. what an incredible video and message.

    7. This speaks to me. Loudly. Your video is incredible. I’m so glad you’ve joined the Aiming Low team. I’m going to try and love my body now.

    8. The video is incredibly moving.As someone who suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, I know the tricks it plays on our minds.
      You are beautiful. I am on the outside looking in and I see you. You are beautiful.I am so glad that you can appreciate your beauty in the now. You have come further than I have yet in the disorder. I hope some day I too can look at myself in the now and love what I see.
      Thank you for sharing your heart and these lovely images.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Debi – thank you so much for commenting. I woke up a month ago and realized I’ve been trying to lose the last 10 pounds for 5 years. So I decided to keep them. I’m healthy. Happy and sick of picking myself apart. It’s a one day at a time proposition. Will pop over and visit you at truthfulmommy xo

    9. if giving birth to a child, loving it, raising it and behing ridiculed because your body reflects it is the world we live in…i want no part. every damn one of you women are gorgeous. enough said

    10. Guiltysquid says:

      Thank you. You are beautiful.

    11. Shannon, you are such an incredibly beautiful woman – and you were 20 years ago, too! Thank you for your bravery and your humor!

    12. natalie says:

      you are amazing!!! and some of those comments while everyone can have an opinion are just awful!!! xoxo

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Natalie — they were quite blistering those comments. But I didn’t take it too personally as the article did make me sound a bit vacuous. I’ll win those Brits over if I have to eat all of their pub food.

    13. Katy says:

      Bravo Shannon!!! Beautiful post. Bold, universal to the topic of being content with oneself (in any and all our ways) and as always, humorous. Keep up the good work! Love, K

    14. This was so beautiful. Thank you for this much needed message.

    15. LW says:

      I wouldn’t worry about that trashy paper. It’s also known as the ‘Daily Fail’ over here in blighty, and can be full of jingoistic, racist, generally nasty sentiment.

      Mwah! xx

      • Shannon says:

        Oh LW that’s a relief. Because I love the Brits (being a descendant myself). The Daily Fail. Will keep that in mind. Which is as “shallow as a contact lens.” That one gave me such a laugh.

    16. Second Mom says:

      You are one Beautiful Woman – Inside and out.

    17. AC Booth says:

      You have always made me laugh, but today you made me cry. Amazing. I want everyone to see this. Who cares about those wretched Daily Mail critics?

      • Shannon says:

        You’re right AC — We seek it here, we seek it there, the Frenchies seek it everywhere…is it in heaven? Or is it in hell…that damned elusive Daily Mail!

    18. elisa says:

      hope after this comment page, I can get to the article.

    19. Mara says:

      I LOVE YOU.

    20. sonora says:

      Kudos! Beautiful video. The Brit crits just don’t get it.

    21. Caryn B says:

      Beautiful…..and a wonderful reminder to love ourselves…our bodies…I wish I had loved my body more when I was younger….

    22. You silly gorgeous cow! How lovely and brave–keep going an know that I WILL NEVER DO THAT but love you for doing so…don’t mind the Brits–they’re always pissed off–not enough vitamin D :-)

    23. Absolutely brilliant, well done. I’ve spent a lifetime hating my body and wondering why the hell I do? I remember a photo taken when I was 15, and I hated it. Years later I looked back at it and thought I was bloody hot, what the hell was I going on about? I try and hold onto that every time I hate myself in a picture because this hatred has never left me – it’s bloody horrible. So bravo, this is a really terrific message to send to the world. I continue to try to learn this lesson, because it is crippling xxxxxxx

      • Shannon says:

        Hello Andrea — I wonder if maybe we all have hatred of our bodies. Since I’ve been exploring my own body hatred I’ve been looking around the web at all of the models who’ve died of anorexia. To see them in their prime is to see perfection. Yet they all hated the way they looked. It’s just heartbreaking that so many of us struggle with either severe or just a consistent malaise of dissatisfaction. I assure you you are not alone Andrea. I think the best we can do sometimes is to NOT BE UPSET with ourselves for being dissatisfied. Maybe it’s normal considering all the advertising pressure we all receive daily. kisses to you.

    24. lauren says:

      Well done, and well said Shannon! I love the comment from WhyIsDaddyCrying, too!

    25. Jamie says:

      My husband just came home and I was about to start your video so he watched it with me.

      Now he is even more excited to meet you (46-year-old you!) *wiggles eyebrows*

      He thinks you’re still “super hot.”

    26. Made me cry, Shannon. It’s so good!

    27. cindy baker gilbert says:

      I admire your journey.

    28. Lucille Renwick says:

      Shannon. You have given a gift to far more than yourself. You have given a gift to all of us who look in the mirror every day and nit-pick at ourselves, hoping that a nip and a tuck would make us happier. If every woman could take photos of themselves every decade or so and stop for 3 minutes and embrace the gorgeous bodies that get us up every day, carry our children, please our partners, run for the bus or train, lift the groceries and so much more. We need to be kinder to ourselves and stop waiting for Hollywood to get their heads out of their asses and see bodies of all sizes as beautiful. Bravo, dear friend.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi honey — Yes, you and I have spent a lot of time commiserating about our middles. Funny how when I see you I think, “Damn that woman’s hot!” Now if we could just give each other our vision. Love you! Miss you!

    29. Marta says:

      Sometimes I’m really struck by coincidence. How one can stumble onto something so applicable to their own life. I can’t remember who or how, but someone tweeted this post and I struck by time that I rarely have actually clicked it and opened. Then time ran away, but I left the tab open on my computer. A reminder to come back to it. And I’m back. And stunned. Stunned by your beauty. Then and now. Stunned by how on February 20th I wrote something similar, but without your optimism. More with regret for how hard I am on myself (and continue to be) and a wish not to be (but not sure how). I only hope before I’m 46 I can come to accept my body with all of its flaws, imperfections and beauty.

      • Shannon says:

        I’m going to visit you now. I really struggled with the After photos for a few days. Then my husband talked some sense into me and got me to look at them again. Slowly I am holding them close and am so grateful just to be healthy. In 2006 I had a very impossible digestive ailment (which is now much better). I dropped down to 116 lbs which I hadn’t weighed since high school and I looked horrible. From the waist down I was fantastic, but from the waist up terrifying. Crone like and ill-looking. Weight is life. We need to be healthy above all.

    30. Juliette Woods says:

      You really did a beautiful job on this. Funny thing, I slowly and healthfully lost 62 pounds and now am the same weight I was in high school. Now I’m bitching because at 57 my muscle tone is not the same as before. Everyone says I look great, but I think to myself…”not without my clothes on.” How silly is that? Geez! Thanks for the wake up call. : )

    31. [...] “My Final Nude Salvo (At Least Until I’m 66)” from The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful: I have often considered it a trifle foolish the way that shallow youth is considered inherently beautiful. There is such a terrible beauty which only age brings, a depth of power that only deepens the sense of mystery that utterly, completely, captivates. [...]

    32. Mary says:

      Wow. great message. I think along similar lines every time I face a birthday. Not so much about my body but that I am should just be happy to be having a birthday and to be alive!!

    33. J.C. says:

      Wow. just wow. I stumbled onto this via The Bloggess and have now found myself in an unexpected ugly cry. Wow. Your words and photos resonate so completely for me. Goddess bless you! And Goddess help me to accept and love the skin I am living in. Thank you!

    34. Anne says:

      Loved your video. Very gutsy. Very beautiful. It moved me to tears. I wonder why this is so much a core issue for so many of us. Has it always been? Since mirrors?

      And the Kenneth Alton quote about the ‘terrible beauty’- wow. Thank you.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Anne — one of the Huffington Post readers said that Joan Rivers has a problem due to all of her plastic surgery, whereas Mick Jagger is hideously wrinkled but doesn’t care and is obviously confident in his skin. This got me to thinking about what it means to be a woman in this culture. Everyone can say that women have come a long way due to the Feminist Movement and thank God for that movement or things would be untenable. But I still think women get the message – from infancy on – that they are appreciated for their beauty while men are appreciated more for what they can accomplish. I wonder if that will ever disappear.

    35. [...] A woman is most genuinely beautiful when she can see the beauty in herself. Shannon Colleary shares a beautiful epiphany that can only come with age and wisdom in My Final Nude Salvo. [...]

    36. I am moved and inspired beyond words… This comes from a gal previously too self-conscious/self-aware/simply afraid of so much as wearing short sleeves in my own home. I so wish I had found you sooner! Stunning. xo

    37. Shannon, I love your video and your Huffpost articles. I saw you in person and you’re the perfect weight. I’ll have you know that tons of people have clicked on to my blog to see a picture of you! You go, girlfriend!!!

    38. Rob says:

      Beautiful video and sentiment. It really strikes a chord with many. Remiinds me that it’s very important for fathers to be supportive of thier daughters’ body image.
      You know that I have always found you beautiful inside and out. Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom.

    39. Loosecannon says:

      Beautifully done! I am right there, hating my body. I AM overweight, but I think what I see is so much fatter than reality. My 7 and 13 yr olds tell me ” mama, you are not fat!” God bless them!

      • Shannon says:

        I guarantee you that you are not seeing the way your really look. I just showed my extended family my interview on Fox 11 news, and I hate the way I look. They saw me in a completely different way. I.E. positively.

    40. Catherine says:

      Yep — I was tearing up as I watched this. Beautiful message — from a gorgeous 46 year-old. Thank you for sharing. I sure hope that this message spreads far and wide. We need more of your wisdom and less of the oscars… xoxox Cath

    41. paul says:

      Uh, hello? You look way better now than you did then. Girl vs. Woman. Skinny vs. Healthy. Vain vs . . . vs. . . . well, not sure. Self-assured? I’ll take the 46 yr. old version any day.

    42. [...] It was in response to MomsLA Contributor Shannon Colleary’s Nude pictures from her 20s and 40s. We decided that the Nude and Never Nude should get together. Here’s our interview with [...]

    43. Tears in my eyes, I am you and you are me, as women we are all the same. I will be showing this to every female therapy client I have. Thank you for this gift.

    44. It seems to be an epidemic in politics right now. Keep doing what you are doing. Truth, honesty and authenticity sets us free. You have a gift for the truth…

    45. [...] ALSO something cool happened.  The Today show decided to do a segment on my body dysmporphia disorder work which began as a story HERE, continued as a story HERE and finished as a story HERE. [...]

    46. Kelly says:

      Such a beautiful, intimate and vulnerable insight to share. Thank you for your depth and courage.

    47. [...] articles inspired me to do this: One which discussed body issues and a woman getting nudes done to reclaim her confidence. And a HuffPost article which showed pictures of women first thing in the morning without make-up! [...]

    48. Danny Dix says:

      I’m sorry but I need to confess right here and now…(sorry ladies, cover your ears cos this is totally inappropriate)…but as a man I’d waaay more love to run off with she of the gorgeously beautiful, most stunning and spellbinding 46 year old body along with that witty intelligent yet whimsical mind than the sweet little 26 year old (have you done your homework yet) young girl.
      Ok…slap my face now. I’d most likely love that too.

    49. Karen says:

      this is beautiful! after two babies, a stroke 8 months ago, a feeding tube and numerous surgeries and scars and weight loss and gains,i can’t say that i love my body, but i do love that its fought its way back and am amazed at what it can do after being so battered. You are a strong woman to post this!

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Karen — In my constant quest for some ideal I do forget to thank my body for carrying two babies, recovering from 2 c-sections and various other dents, bruises and scars from my 46+ years. This reminds me that our bodies truly are temples.

    50. Amy Mayer says:

      Thank you for helping me accept the changes in my body too. To me you were always the most stunningly beautiful creature. The fact that you felt that way about yourself makes me realize that maybe I’ve been a little hard on myself too. One thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that beauty really does come from the inside. I spent last night with a couple of 70 year old women that were the most beautiful creatures. I loved their laugh, their stories, and their hearts. We are slowly getting there too. Someday…maybe we will be as beautiful as them.

    51. My Final Nude Salvo (Until I’m 66) | | The Woman Formerly Known as BeautifulThe Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

    52. [...] I can tattoo them on your buttocks if you like. Story Continued on Walk The Walk, Naked Lady and Final Nude Salvo. ___________________________________________________________ If you like this you might also like [...]

    53. [...] her own body and its inner workings.  I’m thinking about my friend Shannon’s blog- The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful- and how much she’s written about trying to have a realistic picture of her own body.  [...]

    54. [...] role model.  On the one hand I’ve done a series of fine art nude photgraphs and posts about loving my body now which is 20 pounds heavier than when I got married.  On the other hand I’ve had Lasik eye [...]

    55. Tom Sexton says:

      I’ve been a nudist all my adult life and I always feel comfortable and relaxed without uncomfortable clothes! Tom

    56. [...] articles inspired me to do this: One which discussed body issues and a woman getting nudes done to reclaim her confidence. And a HuffPost article which showed pictures of women first thing in the morning without make-up! [...]

    57. [...] 23rd, 2012 I blog frequently about Body Image.  In one of my posts Love. Your. Body. Now. using the juxtaposition of nudes I took in my 20s with nudes I took in my 40s, I seem [...]

    58. [...] And so … to quote another voluptuous woman … [...]

    59. Laurie says:

      I wish there was some way to share this with my six year old daughter. She recently was planning a party and didn’t want to invite one friend because, she said, “Julianna always looks pretty.” I was shocked. Floored. Cannot imagine where it came from. Not from me. There has never been any emphasis on looks in our home. It made me so incredibly sad to hear her say that….I want to, need to, change that attitude. Any suggestions would be so appreciated.

      • Shannon says:

        I was starting to get some of that from my 8 year old. It seems to have quieted down. I find every opportunity to genuinely compliment her. I frequently admire how strong her legs are- as she’s a soccer player. I compliment her creativity, her intelligence and her utterly adorable freckles.

    60. [...] “There’s my naked body!” I cried to the ten bloggers I didn’t know also eating fattening globs of dough at my table. They weren’t impressed. All of this to say I’ve been fortunate to be included in BlogHer’s first Voices of the Year Anthology for my body image video Love. Your. Body. Now. [...]

    61. [...] her own body and its inner workings.  I’m thinking about my friend Shannon’s blog- The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful- and how much she’s written about trying to have a realistic picture of her own body.  [...]

    62. Marcheline says:

      Well… I’ve only seen two of your “Love Your Body” photo shoots so far, and it seems a little odd to me that the people being photographed actually have very few things about them that are physically unattractive. I didn’t see anyone with a fat, droopy belly or cottage cheese thighs. I mean, I get the point of what you’re saying, but the photos don’t really back that up. Do a nude photo shoot of someone more than a little overweight, and then try and tell us how they’re supposed to love their body now. If I looked like you, or like the other woman (Beth, was it?) I would love my body now, too. It’s all emotional and gushy and yes, shouldn’t we all just accept ourselves, but when you really do need to lose weight, that sunny-side-up stuff just doesn’t fly.

      • Shannon says:

        Hi Marcheline — I completely get what you’re saying. Both Beth and I don’t have much to complain about. But here’s the thing, we BOTH truly feel/felt insecure about aspects of our bodies. So I guess the point these two sets of photos make is that the 80% of women who feel dissatisfied with their bodies are within healthy BMIs. Which yet again seems to reinforce the notion that we’re getting screwed up messages from relationships (whether it be friends, parents or lovers) and the media. Now. Our goal over the long term is to shoot women of all shapes, sizes and ages in a way that is loving and flattering. And while it’s true that there are women out there who are unhealthily overweight, my thought — and this is an experiment — is that if that particular woman can learn to love her body now, then perhaps it can put her on the path to treating her body with love and a healthier lifestyle. SHAME IS NOT TRANSFORMATIVE, LOVE IS.

    63. […] The feedback was incredibly positive and I ultimately came to the same conclusion I’d come to in my 20s. Older, wiser, more to love. Still beautiful. […]

    64. […] In her PsychCentral blog post titled, Body Image Booster: Focus On Feelings, Margarita Tartakovsky, MS says that by focusing on how we want our bodies to feel, rather than looking in the mirror at our image, we can begin to heal from body image issues. […]

    65. […] These photos are a reminder to stop the negative body talk and really enjoy the way I look. They’ve been Stage One of my latest efforts at Loving My Body Now. […]

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