How To Have Your Cake & Eat It Too
My naked truth at 30
On being naked.
It’s liberating. I’ve waited a long time to get naked in front of the camera, spent the better part of my life afraid of being naked. Sheltered behind closed church doors, inundated with conservative ideology —ashamed of my bare brown skin to be exposed, I never featured my body growing up, I hid it. I’ve experienced enough judgement and shade from the holy to ever let someone catch me with my pants down.
What began as my saved and sanctified mother putting her hands over my eyes lids every time nudity appeared on the movie or television screen or her confiscating my Playboy magazines hidden carefully under my mattress, ended up creating a negative, shameful, and unaffirming connotation about nudity, sexuality, and sex. The religious dogma stirred into my psyche most of my life caused me to hate myself, my body, and sexual urges and fantasies.
If I could not indulge the sight of a nude body, I certainly couldn’t celebrate and indulge in my own. I resented the fear harvested from the obligation to follow the righteous way other than my way. I was trying to play by the rules and to make the right choices. It took me most of my 20s to realized that the right way is the one that I choose for myself. The way I come to from listening to the rhythm of my own heart.
I told myself at 21, that I was going to do a nude shoot at 30. That was enough time for me to grow into myself, develop my body, find my curves, and build the self love that everyone should have when they look at themselves in the mirror naked. It was a long time coming because the real work for me was a pathway to freedom from fear. It took investing time and energy into loving what I saw in the mirror and wanting to make it better. It looked like years of retraining my perception and belief system to support who I wanted to be in the world verses becoming whoever I could based on the conditionings of my upbringing.
Let me be clear, I’ve taken these photos for myself. I want to always remember my body at 30. I will never be this age and look like this again. Equally so I took these photos for the culture, mine specifically. To make a statement that black and brown gay, queer, and trans boys and girls need to love and celebrate their bodies. It is important for the health and wellness of the community that LGBT people of color are affirmed in their sexual identity, in their bodies.
I always loved the scene in Sex and the City where Samantha has nude photos taken for herself to hang on her wall. It’s been my intention to have that kind self acceptance and celebration for my body.
On being 30
I got naked to make an even bigger point as to what I’ve come to know most at 30. You were born naked, everything else is drag, as RuPaul would say. Strip naked —I speak of more than just clothing, makeup or wigs; I mean ideas and doctrine that no longer serve your highest self. I dare you to strip yourself of the many labels that you’ve somehow found yourself defined by. Take off the things that so easy beset you, you don’t need them. The years of fear trained into your bloodstream, self hatred bred in your safe spaces. Strip off the unconscious accumulation of other people’s stuff.
One of the sweetest things I’ve learned at 30 is that you must be prepared to live with and love yourself by yourself until the end. You must fall in love with yourself because you are in a relationship with you first.
I’ve come to know that the only way to have your cake and eat it too, if that’s what you want, is to create the freedom in your life to do so.
Freedom to me is. No. Fear. — Nina Simone.
I’ve been practicing a life without fear for some time now and I’ve learned that within the fearless life is the freedom to do, be, and have the desires of your heart.
My hope for you is that you set yourself up head to head with your fears. Whatever you are afraid to do, prepare to do it your way, because on the other side of the fear is where all the fun begins.
Your life can be as big or small as you have the audacity to believe it to be. Give yourself permission to discover all that you can be, but you must give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
My advice to you at 30 is to get naked now. Do yourself the greatest favor, fear not, love big, and set yourself free.