Here's a woman. I based her on a shy, lovely friend -- let's call her Josephine -- here where I live, who has nearly black hair and striking green eyes. Josephine, now in her forties like so many of us, has some silver streaks in her hair, which she hates and I love. She has what she calls "rather floppy" breasts, which she hates and I love. She has a bit of a belly, which she hates and I love. She has thick, extra-long (she calls it "freakishly long") pubic hair, which she hates and I love. I've never seen her labia, but I hope they are long, thick, and lush, which she hates and I love! She has a large lush bottom, which I love! She has large, luscious thighs, which I love! The very things Josephine dislikes most about her body are the very things I love about her body. I love them all. Maybe because they are hers...
So, out of love and admiration, I imagined her here, courageously showing us the place she's most ashamed of. Where she was molested. Where, when she was younger, her lovers longed to come and stay. Where her children were born. Where her unloving partner hates to go. Where she touches herself in secret.
It's easy to look at naked bodies and objectify them. Society teaches us how to do that. It's harder to see what that body has experienced or how it seeks to tell us what it feels or wants or needs. But isn't it awesome beyond words how easily we can see a body in a whole new way when we remember that every body has a soul attached to it?
I can't help but wish Josephine could know that this painting exists or that the artist feels such a beautiful combination of love, appreciation, and desire for her.
(And here is the painting that inspired my friend's drawing: "The Center of the World" by Gustav Courbet.)