Our Bodies are as Sacred as Life and Death

exposing body image issues's picture

by Colette Coughlin - from Victoria's Sex Blog

I feel very much alive these days; but I have known periods of depression where I almost wished for death. Having been there, I now try to practice regularly those things that for me, nurture life; one of which is drawing the body, nude, whether it be enlaced in intimate lovemaking or simply being.

I was very close to one of my aunts who passed away two years ago, not too long after being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord which eventually leads to death. I will never forget how courageously she shared her feelings when she received the devastating diagnosis; after the initial shock, she turned within to an incredibly deep source of strength and decided to live her death as fully as she had lived her life up until then. I was one of the very fortunate family members to be able to share this period with her up close.

She was a very “private person” and it is not without a twinge of discomfort towards other family members’ reactions that I post images of her. But at the same time, I do so with a deeper confidence, knowing that she not only asked to participate in my work through a nude photo session, she also gave me permission to share the artwork produced from them, and fortunately, I was able to show her a few of my drawings before she passed away. Drawing this one just recently brought me back to the beautiful moments spent together during the last months of her life.

Why share this on a blog about sex? To remind us of how precious our lives are, and our bodies, and the ways we choose to use them. Sharing our bodies sexually is no less sacred than the moment of birth and the moment of death.

If, to you, this means living your sexuality full-out and joyfully with as many experiences, partners, and props as you choose, may you follow that path fully; everything that can possibly be done can be done with respect. For others, keeping things sacred means turning the lights out or abstaining until after mariage… who is to say that one way is the only way?

I think the most sacred way to live is by being true to ourselves, and only each of us can figure out what exactly that means for us.  We can’t be truly intimate with others until we learn to be intimate with ourselves; listening to our hearts, our souls, and our gut feelings, and accepting ourselves exactly as we are; as human beings, as sexual beings, as everything else that each of us is.

I am pulling together a new site called “Intimography.com” and the enthusiastic support I’ve been receiving seems to suggest that this is a concept whose time has come! It will regroup visuals by a large number of artists who treat the human body and sexuality in a completely respectful, non-exploitative manner… so that finally a more loving view can start to grow alongside the body and sex-as-commodity sites that so many can’t relate to.

An affirmation, written for the site’s intro (coming soon!) for the particularly prude (including people like me before  drawing changed my perspective):

Our goal is not to expose the vulnerable to abuse by the strong, but rather to recognize the strength and the beauty in our universal vulnerabilities, particularly when it comes to the human body in its most natural, and beautiful state of nudity.

Thank you to my fabulous aunt for following my projects from the very beginning with such an open mind and heart. Thank you for requesting this photo session at the risk of being thought an “exhibitionist”. Thank you for listening to my body image fears even though you couldn’t relate to them yourself. Thank you for holding my hand through my storms when it was so rough for you too! And thank you for still being there with me, every day, with every tiny step forward I dare to take.

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