On the Subject of Nudity (2012) / by Jacs Fishburne

I’ve decided to make this post to clarify a couple of things and to be able to simply reference it when this subject comes up again in the future. Recently I have had a lot of people asking me about my decision to photograph myself in the nude and my thoughts on how other people perceive this action. I’ve talked a bit about this before but I wanted to take the time to put my thoughts out there.

First and foremost, I see nothing wrong with nudity. We were born naked, we shower naked, we have sex (for the most part) naked. Its a part of life. This being said, I was definitely not comfortable with my body growing up. I was hyper aware of my body coming from a dance and gymnastics background, but I was never the body type that lured people in. I was limbs and sinew flying all over the place in a slightly graceful fashion. The girls everyone wanted were the ones who had curves and boobs and could purse their lips and stop your heart. When I ran track, I didn’t develop curves, I developed 20 lbs of muscle, which is kind of frightening to see on a 5'9" girl coming at you at full tilt.

Even in college I wasn’t directly comfortable with my skin. Entering in to college I had a major accident that placed metal in my left femur, hip, and knee. When you go to a foreign place on crutches and a cane, most people don’t stop and think, “Oh that limby girl is hot,” they think (and I quote), “What does that girl think she’s pimp or something?” It took me years of dancing at shows and putting my body through the ringer before I finally looked down and said, “Oh hey, I like you, you’re kind of nice and have fun little freckles in interesting places. Let’s be friends.” Having so much physical and neurological trauma, I find it natural to want to see what I am capable of doing, of pushing myself in any way possible to get myself out there and across to people.

For me, photographing myself in the nude has nothing to do with sexuality or desire or anything but my own ability to look at myself and see something beautiful. When I first started conducting my series of self portraits, I quickly realized that I didn’t like the way clothing worked into what I was trying to convey. A lot of the time it seemed to tie me down to a particular period in time and I wasn’t particularly interested in exploring the idea of costume. Removing my clothing and leaving it to the wayside allowed me to open up myself and start to process my own emotions. I could see the lines and curves (the small ones that make me happy because only I seem to know their there) and say to myself “this is my body, this is what is moving me from point A to B, sometimes with trouble, but always together.”

And I think that at 23 I can fully make my own decisions about how I would like to convey my ideas and emotions photographically. The body is not always pornographic. It is a temple, a sacred space of emotion and strength and power, and while I understand not everyone is going to look at a nude body and see those exact thoughts, I can’t help but believe that there are others out there who simply see the beauty in it.