All Posts in Body Image
Back in August 2015, I had the sheer pleasure of working with Showem Entertainment and body painting extraordinaire Carolyn Roper for a ‘Channel 4 Shorts‘ series called ‘Naked & Invisible’.
When I was initially approached about the project which involved me getting basically naked on the streets of London and having my body painted to blend into a background, I felt nothing but excitement. The series aimed to centre itself around positive body image which of course, appealed to me like bananas to a monkey. I feel that when you want to make a point, you’ve really got to go out there and make a point. This was an amazing platform to do so and it was such a brilliant team of people to do it with. When I told friends and family, they’d say things like “you’re so brave!” and “aren’t you even a little bit scared?” To which, I had no other genuine response than “no”. The opportunity to both promote body positivity AND destigmatise real naked human bodies was something that gave me butterflies. The really, really good kind! Even just being asked to be a part of something so magical humbled me no end. Five years ago, nay, even two years ago, I would have cackled at you whilst ferociously shaking my head if you’d asked me to do something like this. And I certainly would not have believed you if you’d told me I’d be doing it now. There was never any question in my mind over whether or not I should or felt brave enough to do it. Bravery never even came into it. It was something that I absolutely had to do. And I’m so glad that I did. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to date.
It feels like an age ago but also like it was just yesterday. The whole day we spent shooting was a very busy and simultaneously fun one. I awoke at around 5:30am in order to prepare myself for the first part of the shoot: the on camera interview. *GASP!* Somewhat ironically, this was the part of the day that made me the most nervous. I find talking on camera very daunting. I’ve always had terrible stage fright and get extremely anxious in situations like that. But Simon and his crew were a dream and made it so easy for me. As did the lush salmon and scrambled eggs I had for breakfast. NOM. The interview is not shown on screen in the 3 minute film, instead, it’s used as a voice over. I absolutely love how it’s been edited together. It really gets my message across.
After the interview came the even funner bit – stripping in a phone box on the street! With two cameras on me, I stripped down to my pants in front of passers by and emerged to take my place in front of where I would eventually disappear. It was incredibly freeing to rid myself of all my clothes and underwear in a public place. I’ve never felt so liberated! I wanted to go full on burlesque star strip tease, but I’m way too awkward for that. One step at a time, eh. At first, before the paint really started to build up and it was evident that I was indeed a naked human being out in public, the reactions really surprised me. I was fully expectant and prepared for negative comments. Those who would take it upon themselves to tell me that I ought to be ashamed of myself. A naked woman who has not been Photoshopped? THE HORROR! And that what we were doing was in bad taste. Women are not supposed to be naked unless it’s in aid of a man, ya know. But there was none of that. We certainly attracted some double takes which under the circumstances is to be expected, it’s not every day you see something like this! There was a group of men in a van who drove past us (deliberately slowing down and hovering once they caught sight of my nakedness) and thought it would be humorous to shout “tits out!”. Which they then proceeded to do for a second time. The crew and I found it pretty funny. Up until this point, none of us had any idea that I was naked. So, thanks guys!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Scotland (where I’m from) – we don’t get much of a Summer. Well, more accurately, we don’t get Summers full stop. We basically get Winter and Autumn twice a year. So, the temperature in London in August at the time of filming was incredibly warm for me, I was sweltering! It’s ironic how much warmer I was without clothes than I was with them. Soon, the paint started to run off me and patches of my skin were making a mockery out of Carolyn’s work. The under boob sweat was not a pretty or comfortable sight. I’m so Scottish that I actually managed to sunburn UNDERNEATH all of that paint. And it had an SPF in it. Good job I love my country…
The whole process was incredibly humbling and freeing. To go from being so out there, as a naked person in a public place beside a very busy road, to virtually invisible in a few hours was an experience that I can’t really put into words. It almost felt like an outer body experience. It made me feel quite emotional at times. Throughout my childhood and into my teens I would have given literally anything to become invisible and merge into the background. Doing this was a shout out to my younger self and everyone else who thinks that life would be better if they were invisible. It reaffirmed my love of the diversity of human beauty and made me even more determined to redefine the term ‘perfection’.
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