This is where we share stuff we can’t share on Facebook page for fear of being kicked out! Read why here. Usually the posts are about body image, sometimes there’s nudity but we’re all adults here. Right?
Photographer Anastasia Kuba grew up feeling beautiful. She had light eyes, blond hair and big breasts, attributes conventionally defined as such. From a young age, she was showered with attention. But Kuba still struggled intensely with self-esteem. “My self-worth was connected to my looks,” the artist explained to The Huffington Post.
Kuba’s self-identification as a beautiful woman shaped many of her life choices growing up. “There was nothing else I thought I had to offer. I was young — I hadn’t really established my identity yet, who I was.” To support herself in her early 20s, after moving from Russia to the United States, Kuba worked as a topless dancer. It wasn’t a defining moment in Kuba’s life, but an affirmation of what she already felt — that her value was affixed to her appearance.
A lot of contemporary feminist discussion focuses around ideas of empowerment and body positivity, propelling the belief that every woman, or more aptly every human being, is beautiful. Although Kuba doesn’t disagree with the sentiment, for her, it misses the mark. “We usually talk about the body positivity movement by saying ‘everyone tells us we’re not beautiful enough, but look at us, we are.’ I was in a different boat. I was told I was beautiful, but that was kind of it.”
I just did the single most empowering thing for myself since I was raped in my own bed almost two years ago by someone I trusted. I took part in a photo shoot by ‘Rory Banwell Photography’ called “Still Not Asking For It.” I posed semi nude – I was asked to wear black tape (provided) over my nipples and a black pair of underwear on – on a white back drop for a short 15min portrait session.
As soon as I arrived, thanks to Rory and her team, I felt comfortable, I felt safe, and I felt really chilled out. I didn’t even notice how naked I was because, for once in my life, nothing about this moment was about how my female body was about pleasing anybody else. I could just be. I consented to this, I know my photos will be on the Internet, and I feel enthusiastic about that. I didn’t have to look sexy. I didn’t have to pull any pouty faces. I didn’t have to be skinny, nor pose to look skinnier, nor did I feel like it. I didn’t have to be a white person. I didn’t have to be able bodied (though I am). Patriarchal beauty standards do not exist in Rory’s space. I just had to stand there exactly as I am right now, if I wanted to.
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The body positive movement has gained visibility in recent years to the delight of feminists everywhere. It has, necessarily, focused on the relationship between body positivity and women and girls. Girls develop negative body image at increasingly younger ages and women suffer eating disorders at higher rates than men. Women’s bodily autonomy is legislated against. In short: the female body is still, in 2016, a liability. Body positivity (often at the intersection of feminism, civil rights, and sex positivity) seeks to change that. But where in that conversation is there room for our sons?