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The Bold And The…

The Bold And The

A few weeks ago I was teaching a kids yoga class. As we flowed through the Warrior poses, we chanted, “I am strong. I am bold.” After the first round, a girl asked me, “What does ‘bold’ mean?” My first inclination was to say “ballsy”, but I figured that probably wasn’t appropriate in a class of six- to nine-year olds. Instead, I decided to use colors. Plenty of the kids had on bright clothing so I showed examples, “This pink shirt is bold. So are your green socks.”

Then I had a better idea. “Bold,” I explained, “is when someone throws garbage on the ground, and you tell them to use a garbage can.” I elaborated. “Better yet, it’s when you pick up the trash, hand it back to them and show them where they can throw it.”

“Hey,” said one girl, “my mom does that.”

“Mine too,” piped another.

I looked at E with a triumphant grin. I do that all the time, much to his chagrin. He rolled his eyes back at me. Vindication, finally.

And then I took my definition a step further, “Well, of course they do that. Moms are bold.”

Ain’t that the truth.

I have recently had my own foray into the world of boldness. Brazenness, even. I did something I never thought I would do and I had a great time doing it. It’s getting a lot of attention (which, admittedly, I enjoy), but that’s not the reason I did it. After a year of hell, I decided to do something to recapture my spirit and take a path that I had never taken before.

I posed naked for a magazine.

A local New York City publication has a yearly Naked issue. They invite readers to pose nude – wherever and however they want. When the call came out in June, I thought it might be fun. I play poker on a monthly basis with about ten women and I approached them with the idea. About six of them said yes; they thought it sounded like a great idea. I emailed the magazine, and they were very receptive to having a bunch of moms sitting around playing card in the buff. We started to make plans for a photo shoot.

Unfortunately the timing did not work out and nothing happened. The Naked issue came and went. However, the editor and I stayed in touch. In the fall she approached me again with the idea. By that time a bunch of moms had dropped out so there were only two of us left. The magazine wanted at least four so I put out a call to another moms group in the neighborhood. Two gamely responded and a photo shoot was scheduled.

On the day of the shoot I shaved in places that hadn’t seen a razor for a very long time. I ate only salad for lunch (a last-ditch effort, I know). The other three ladies joined me as we stripped down in front of the editor and photographer. Tattoos were covered, lipstick was applied, and cards and chips were artfully positioned.

The photo shoot was not nerve-wracking at all. Some red wine helped, yes, but there was also a level of comfort there that day that surprised us all. As the photographer took pictures, we laughed and gossiped, joked and posed. It was four women sitting around having a good time – we just happened to have no clothes on.

What surprised me more than anything else is how comfortable we all were. I admitted that I probably would not have done anything like this ten years ago. When I was thirty, my tush was smaller and my boobs were perkier (17 months of nursing can take its toll on even the perkiest of A cups); however, I didn’t have the same assurance about myself that I do now. It’s weird to think that becoming a single mom might have actually given me the courage to strip naked in front of a camera. I have proven (to myself, mostly) that I can be fierce and fearless when I need to be – whether facing off against my ex or blithely accepting an ace under the table.

After everyone left my apartment, I sat on my couch reliving the afternoon. “Oh, no,” I thought, “What have I done?” Second (and third, and fourth) thoughts ricocheted around my brain. “Who’s going to see this?” “Old flames?” “New flames?” “Was I really just photographed completely nude?”

Yes, I was. And now I needed to own it. 2009 was pretty dreadful for me. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had surgery. And I could count the number of dates I went on with one hand (thumb not included). I needed something that was going to shock those twelve months out of my system and take no prisoners while doing it. I wanted to regain my confidence and kick off 2010 with a bang, a blast, a ka-boom that rocked me to my core. Posing naked seemed the right thing to do.

And it was. Oh, yes – it was. The issue came out this week. We all look great (thank you, Photoshop!) and the response has been overwhelming. I’ve had parents in front of E’s school tell me how brave I am. I’m getting texts from friends that simply say “You look good naked.” I feel great about the decision I made. The second thoughts have been wiped away. I feel more self-assured that I have in months, and it’s manifesting itself in other ways too. I just made plans for my first grown-up vacation in years. My online dating life is picking up. I find myself walking just a bit taller these days (and when you’re 5″2′, that makes a big difference).

Did having a full-page picture of me naked lead to 2010’s auspicious start? Probably not. I have no idea what this year is going to bring for me. It’s only January. But it has definitely helped my attitude. I feel better about myself that I have in a long time. The photo did not precipitate all this, but perhaps it upped the ante a bit. As for me, I’m all in.

(I am strong. I am bold.)

Author: Stacey Linden

Click here to Stacey’s article!

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