No. 17. Skin

back11

When Craig M. and I did my nude photo shoot last year, I was very embarrassed when I saw the shots of my back because I have a number of fairly large ‘seborrheic keratoses’. Although these benign, waxy keratoses are quite common in people past middle age they are one of the things about my body I have had issues with (being told by a male doctor that they were often referred to as ‘crones warts’ did not help!!!) Knowing this is undoubtedly a ‘first world problem’, I still find the need to address the issue of skin in this post.

Sensual skins invite caresses, we are told repeatedly by the media, they are smooth and unblemished. Despite this, in general, I have reached a truce with wrinkles. The collections that gather at the corners of my mouth and eyes; even that deeper notch – fruit of countless hours of screen time – which hyphenates my brows, tells a story.

Moles, on the other hand, are sometimes viewed as sexy, and there are times when I regret the removal of two of these dark velvety jewels many years ago when I perceived them as a potential threat. In old photographs I see one punctuating the youthfulness of my cheek; my fingers may still easily trace the remnants beneath the dermis. The other mole, fingertip sized, was placed where only lovers, gynaecologists and my sensual self were permitted to view back in the day. If that dark round of flesh had not been excised, my current blogging followers may have caught a glimpse of a dark spot punctuating the skin beneath lacy lingerie. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, at the time, it was no jewel but rather a spider waiting patiently for it’s prey. Australian’s often fear the cancerous spot, yet assiduously court it in our daily behaviours. Generations are paying the price of years of exposure to the sun, in our youth, despite government campaigns promoting sun avoidance and skin care.

While not cancerous, there is nothing velvety or sensual about the ketoses that persist in forming on my older skin. After last years photoshoot I forced myself to turn my embarrassment around by adding an exaggerated b&w filter to an image I subsequently shared to some acclaim on #SinfulSunday entitled Dancing in Shadow.  It seemed fitting to share my darkness and my blemishes, perhaps too it was a form of self-inflicted punishment, since I was going through one of the many moments of painful uncertainty about my friendship with Craig and posted this at a point when I felt all hope was lost and I must move on.

Times changed and so did our relationship.

When I returned from overseas we began to discuss ways to renew our creative collaborations. As some readers may recall I was inspired by the mask I bought in Barcelona and started to make a series of photographs and drawings I refer to collectively as #BadHareArt. Part of what I’m trying to challenge myself with by making the Bad Hare series is the urge to always present as sexy, youthful and/or feminine, while simultaneously aiming to foster a sense of positivity around my aging bod. Therefore last year when Craig M. and I were discussing Bad Hare I asked him to place some skin tone coloured flowers on my back next to the ketoses. The idea was to highlight my ‘marks’ while thumbing my nose at the prevalent unblemishedyoung woman/floral trope.

However, as we’ve begun to explore the sepia filters in our photos my desire to protest about my aging skin has slowly melted and I’m happy to present this image for  #SinfulSunday because it now feels unique and strangely beautiful. Of course life isn’t filtered in a warm honey glow, and touch still reveals what the camera glosses over, but the making of images like this move me toward acceptance and appreciation. CM seems unmoved by bodily concerns in general but his acceptance of my demons, and trust in my artistic concepts allowed him to readily look at and touch an area that I find problematic, to glue the flowers to my skin and point his camera at the result, questioning only the placement and tonal values.

This weeks post is not a direct response to last weeks #WickedWednesday prompt, Erotic Photography, but rather a continuation of thoughts set in train by this. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is still finding things to consider.

For another story and perspective on Body Positivity and personal empowerment through photography  I recommend E L Byrne’s #WickedWednesday no. 350 post – Lessons Learned From Letting My Lover Take Photo’s of Me.

Sinful Sunday

 

February Photofest

22 thoughts on “No. 17. Skin

  1. I have SK marks all over my body, including on my face. They present either as rough patches of slightly-darkened pigment — textured sun spots, if you will — or as raised mole-like blemishes. It seems I am forever finding new ones, yet at the same time I am constantly forgetting they exist.

    Then I see them anew in photographs and am reminded again. Of damage unwittingly fostered in unprotected-from-the-sun youthful exuberance, of the too-deep burns sustained over decades of too-little sunscreen, of the way it all catches up with us in the end.

    But these are the marks we wear from a life lived. All the so-called imperfections that show up over time — the wrinkles and lines and sun spots and creases — are not imperfect at all; they map the journeys our individual bodies have taken, and therein lies their beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Beautifully said Feve. My dear old mum had quite a few- I used to look at her and see my future. The moles followed the male line down. But yes a life lived indeed, and the trail of our ancestry.

      Like

  2. I love your take on this- the perspective of the skin. Already in my mid-40’s I have this spot or that one showing up and reminding me of times passage. Lovely images and beautiful thoughts about this images and what I means to age… hugs!! Thanks for highlighting my story!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If we are going to show our ‘best bits’ it feels a good thing to explore the areas we would rather not see, let alone show. I agree with Feve, it is important to embrace a life lived and actually the blemishes we dislike never seem so bad to others. Nor when we look back on them later. I love the flowers on your back, but also the SK marks, they are part of you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Indie, this post is so positive, so beautiful! Showing your perfect imperfections, telling your story, is so important, for others, but also for yourself. We should indeed celebrate our bodies and all it has brought us over the years. Thank you for sharing this!

    Rebel xox

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A beautifully moving and sensitive post Indie, I love how you’ve moved towards acceptance and embraced your skin in these images, you look beautiful. My skin is also changing a lot now I’m nearly mid 40, especially in the last couple of years. All my sun worshipping coming back to bite me…thank you for sharing xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a dark velvety mole on the top of bottom, had it all my life and my daughter has the same. I am also a very mole covered person and they do seem to increase with age especially on my back. I mostly like them though but I do keep an eye on them as I know they can also be monsters waiting to attack

    Mollyx

    Liked by 1 person

    • The mole on your bottom sounds very fetching I must look out for it! Funny your daughter has the same. Our bodies are a fascinating landscape… but yes watch out for the monsters 😊

      Like

  7. Well done for writing and I really like the image – I think a funny thing is that photos often make us able to accept things about ourselves that when we first view in the mirror we don’t like – Not sure why. They have done that for me in the past xx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s