The first time I went naked, before actually posting the photos online, I was terrified at what reactions I would get especially from my family. After the initial adrenalin rush of what I’d done faded, part of me kept wishing I could take it all back. I wasn’t one of those Wangari Maathai women who were stripping to save a forest, so why did I do it?!
I asked myself this for days as the photos were being edited. I even once had a nightmare of being naked in a crowd in campus after which I woke up terrified.
Of course there was always the option of calling up the photographer to tell him not to post the photos publicly and yet, I always hesitated when it came to that.
While my cautious side was deeply concerned about a very possible loss of future employment in some prestigious place if they came to find my naked pictures online,the daredevil in me applauded at this possibility. I had basically damned myself to working in liberal environments only and she could see only a win at this. Besides, I later reasoned, if conservative workplaces was what I was concerned about, my open atheism would probably be my most damning thing, not my nudity.
I could very well take down my nude photos but was I truly willing to also take down my dark poetry, suicidal thoughts, anti-religious views, and everything I had been naked about simply because people didn’t find it comfortable or acceptable?
The answer was a resounding NO and so I never called the photographer to have him keep the nude photos private.
Besides, what really is it about one’s naked body that a person should be embarrassed about? Like when I posted a nude selfie on my birthday, why did I cringe less about the photo simply because my breasts and nipples did not show?
If I am smart, why can I not be nude too? Does my naked body diminish my worth as a person that creates art?
And are these inhibitions things I believe in to my very bones or are they simply familiar and thus comfortable lessons I cling to, but whose foundations I still haven’t found?
It’s a dilemma that still plagues me, considering how much I admire tribal women who bare their breasts with such effortlessness; or nude tribes for whom nakedness is simply just that.
I went naked that first time for kicks but as time goes by, I see it as a chance to question the many lessons I took to heart without bothering to dissect; and hopefully fuck with people’s minds and disturb them enough to actually look at things deeper than at face value.
In the end, I decided this: if anyone should be irked by my nudity, let them be irked too by my writing because I am more naked in verse and in prose than I ever will be unclothed.
I gladly damn myself to this.
Photography by Kennedy Gitau