This month I have been exploring the relationships women have with their bodies; what effects their self-confidence and where insecurities grow from. When I asked Rosa if she would be involved with this month’s project of Embodying, she suggested I painted her body. This process and the conversations we had throughout exposed a fragile side to one of the most confident women I know. As we discussed the relationship she has with her body, it became clear there was still a vulnerability she was wanting to face.
BB: Hi Rosa! Thanks for being a part of this project. So we’re talking about body confidence. Personally I have felt the most insecure when (against my better judgement!) I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of Instagram and obsessively compare myself to the many sexy, polished women I see. What’s your response been to images of women that you see in social media ?
Rosa: I’m aware that the images we see of women within the media (online, TV, magazines) sets a standard for what is considered to be beautiful. When I was growing up the trend was to be skinny, whereas now it’s about being voluptuous, having big boobs, a big bum and a tiny waist. We’re constantly comparing our bodies, trying to match that idea of perfection and I think that can be dangerous, it can encourage a sense of insecurity, especially for younger more vulnerable girls.
BB: I agree. The multitude of imagery is overwhelming and can really become a negative game of compare and contrast. I felt pretty uncomfortable in my skin when I was a teenager and that was when there was only Bebo and the Daily Mail to draw comparisons from. Did you struggle with your body image growing up?
Rosa: I think for me the biggest challenge of growing up was to find what made me feel sexy. I didn’t feel confident because of a certain body part, say my boobs or bums, my confidence came with my attitude. I have been taught by my mum that what makes the strongest, sexiest women is her confidence, the way she loves herself and how she treats other people, what she has to offer as a person.
BB: Your mother sounds like a pretty inspirational woman! That’s a very positive attitude to be brought up with. So would you say you are confident in your body as an adult and happy to be seen naked?
Rosa: I’m happy with my body and the way I present it. I’ll have a day when I feel off, but by me complaining about it isn’t going to change the way I look. For me the difficult part is taking off all my clothes (and this is definitely not because I don’t like my body). It’s because this is when I feel the most vulnerable; stripping down to the naked truth and baring myself.
BB: So there isn’t a link between your body confidence being effected by nudity, you don’t feel insecure in your physique. It seems more about the emotional implications. What do you think it is about being naked that makes you feel vulnerable?
Rosa: It’s not about the physical act of being naked, it‘s about what it symbolises. Getting to the stage of being naked either with friends or lovers is a reflection of the intimacy that’s grown and developed. It also means that I am bringing down a barrier. Developing several forms of relationships is about bringing barriers down, being intimate and for me that is the most vulnerable experience. But it is also a very beautiful experience.
BB: How do you think this process of you letting me paint you naked has effected you? Because for me it became about your skin being the canvas and responding to the movement and contours of your shape. I found it a very beautiful and organic process.
Rosa: I did this project with you because I knew it was me at my most vulnerable point, that I was facing something in my life that I knew would make me stronger. What I got from it was embracing the process and what it gave me, as a learning experience, feeling love for what and who I am. The journey has been a way to understand my vulnerability, the emotions attached to bringing down my walls through the physical act of being naked. Having you paint my body was like finishing my journey of going through learning to love myself and what I am. I think participating in the project was like putting the dot on the i , a way to embrace what I have rather than hiding.
BB: It was an experience for me as well! Collaborating on this project took us through many different stages. The initial conversation reflected your sense of self love and worth which made painting your body a celebration of your shape and the positive attitude you have. Understanding your sense of vulnerability took many more conversations. It highlighted for me the attachments we make with our physical self and what it represents. How we wish to be treated. Thank you Rosa for taking the time to explain and share this with me.
Story by Rosa
Interview and artwork by Bethany Burgoyne