I recently discovered a rapidly flourishing Instagram account, @thenakeddiaries. Taken at face value, I suppose the name could mean any number of things. Upon further exploration, I discovered that it did, in fact, mean a number of different things to a number of different people: 72.9K (mostly female-identified) people, to be exact. Clearly, creator Taylor Giavasis, who appears to be a photographer in their own right, is on to something contagious. If I had name a theme among all the nude photos on this Instagram page, I would say it’s vulnerable authenticity. Each subject affirms a painful truth they’ve felt about their bodies, which they are now reclaiming in a very powerful and public way. Many photos honor the scars, stretch marks, acne spots, fat rolls, etc. that they have been taught to dislike about themselves. It appears that speaking their truths about such things, combined with showcasing their bodies, is a way to make the invisible visible — and celebrated.
This photo and its caption are a beautifully inspiring example:
“I could never understand why or how people could love themselves so much and not care what anyone else thought. It baffled me. I hated that I couldn’t feel that way about myself.
I don’t care if my post gets 0 notes or 1000. I don’t post pictures of myself for anybody else’s pleasure or to gain attention. I do it for myself. I’m documenting my journey.
I got bullied so bad when I was 6 years old that I begged my dad to let me stay home. I was homeschooled until I was 16. At 14, I attempted suicide three times. At 16, I was so embarrassed to eat in front of people, I would starve myself and take laxatives on a regular basis. 18, I didn’t even like people taking pictures of my face. I have no memories of my childhood from the age of 9 to about 20. Today, I am 21 and I finally love myself. I love who I am, I love what I look like, I love what I stand for, I love my journey … Anybody who has a problem with me loving the skin I’m in can kiss my entire black ass.” (@thenakeddiaries)
Here are four reasons why we at Wear Your Voice find this project to be intrinsically feminist:
1. It celebrates the worth of all body sizes, shapes, colors and presentations.
Scroll through @thenakeddiaries and you will quickly see no shortage of body sizes, shapes and body presentations: able-bodied and disabled, heteronormative and queer, small and fat and every kind of hair and skin. While most of the subjects so far are female-presenting, the invitation is open to male-identified people as well. By placing so many different bodies side by side, @thenakeddiaries creates an equal playing field.
“Seeing your page gave me so much inspiration usually I am really confident with my clothes on bc I’m known as that ‘cool big girl’ but seeing your page i know that I am more than that and seeing these pics made me realize some of these things other people have I have to and that we all have similar insecurities.” (@thenakeddiaries)
2. It makes the often-invisible visible.
@thenakeddiaries doesn’t hold back. This forum highlights all kinds of body “imperfections” such as acne and stretch marks, and celebrates them as perfectly welcome. Not only that, there are even some photos that push the boundaries of invisible illness, reminding us that when we look at people, what we see often doesn’t show the pain hiding underneath (which I resonate with deeply, as a Crohn’s Disease survivor).
“This has been my life since seventh grade. Eating my back up days by weeks by months by years I’m now 19 years old. It’s taken over my life completely. It’s torn me down but bloomed me to who I am today. I always thought WHY ME? Why do I have this?? Why wasn’t I born with clear skin? I never took my shirt off to any guy in my life for years. I thought they would be disgusted and tell all their friends “I’m The Girl With Bacne.” I never went swimming with guys or girls not even family because I was THAT embarrassed. It’s taken a lot of my teenage years away. It’s caused depression and Suicidal thoughts thinking that’ll end my pain. Before I got in the shower every night I would stare at my back in the mirror and ball my eyes out to where I couldn’t breathe… I’ve learned that: first, if a guy doesn’t love you for who you are then he isn’t the right one. Two, suicide doesn’t solve pain. Three, love who you are because there is only one of you & you obviously have your flaws for a reason. It’s made me stronger than ever. I’m blessed to have it now, I’ve helped a lot of women conquer their flaws and I think that’s why it was put on me. Soon I’m going to get a moon tattoo on my back because moons have craters also so I feel as if I’m the moon glowing every night.” (@thenakeddiaries)
“Blood rashes & eczema always made me feel insecure. Especially in THIS area. Despite that I learned to love my curves.” (@thenakeddiaries)
“I was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1st grade, leaving me to either give myself many shots a day or wear a pump like this. it’s inevitable that I have scar tissue and little scar dots anywhere on my body that I can inject, and they will get worse throughout my entire life. that I don’t mind so much, but it’s also unfortunate to be limited in what I can wear without flaunting my tubing and pump. no tight dresses or really anything tight fitting. I’m fortunate that I can get such good care, but it’s definitely not ideal for a teen trying to move past insecurities and find total self love.” (@thenakeddiaries)
3. It honors diversity and interconnectedness.
Although this point may be intrinsically linked to the others on this list, it bears repeating. Clearly, by creating this interconnected format, the creator of @thenakeddiaries has created a space for its honorees to witness and draw strength from one another.
“I’ve only seen girls here but I love my body as a man also. People tend to judge but they don’t know my story, I had a huge surgery on my belly and I survived cancer twice and got down to about 160 lbs and it was a scary situation but now I’m alive and I feel great.” (@thenakeddiaries)
“I’ve been through years of eating disorders and self harm, but I realized fuck what society thinks … worth is not associated with what size you are. thanks for being awesome!” (@thenakeddiaries)
“Ever since I was in 3rd Grade I’ve had stretch marks all over my body and it’s taken so long for me to accept them and love myself and now I am proud.” (@thenakeddiaries)
4. It fights against the societal idea that nudity is intrinsically sexual.
Through the photos @thenakeddiaries shares, it is clear that the body is being honored for all that it represents, aside from pure sexuality. Yes, sensuality and sexuality play a role in some of the photos. Every photo contains nudity, non of the photos suggest an intrinsically sexual act. @thenakeddiaries dares us to see beyond that framework, into the infinite wisdom that all bodies have to teach and to learn from one another.