(All photos via Jade Beall)

All body warriors have their version of an Achilles' heel. 
Believe me on this one.

If you search for synonyms for this term you’ll not only find weakness and vulnerability, but you will also find a list of the following: backjugularsoft spotunderbelly etc. Interestingly enough all body parts that are vulnerable; perhaps even prone to be hidden and protected.

I’d like to add to the list: my ass.

I'm aware of the fact that in general I have a great ass. It's shapely, cheerful and sassy all at the same time. And I feel more than comfortable showing it off. BUT... only under clothes. I've hidden my ass from everyone except those that I allow into my bed and it has long been one of my most shameful secrets. Why? Because it's scarred. Embarrassingly scarred.

Lets talk about self harm for a second.

My therapist loves to mention the moment in Twilight when Edward saves Bella from a moving vehicle. Bella asks how he did it and he (dryly) replies "I had an adrenaline rush. It's very common. You can Google it." My therapist likes to talk about the phenomenon that happens in real life where mothers have the capability to lift cars off of their children in a moment of emergency. This super human strength is a direct response to crisis or trauma. The amount of energy that is accumulated and used to exert that extraordinary strength is nearly incomprehensible, but it exists. And we, as humans in the stress based civilization that we live in, experience mini versions of similar trauma every day.

It could be a confrontation. A near accident. Or even walking out into 110 degree heat when our bodies are not used to it. All of these mini traumas generating the same sort of energy inside of us. Welling up, accumulating, physically sitting inside our core. 

We are often oblivious to this stockpiling, and may or may not address it as needed. When we don't address it healthily (exercise, and other safe physical releases... tattooing included!), our bodies find their own way and this shows up through the many faces of self harm. Cutting is one that we talk about often, and is a physical solution for the energy that we are constantly unaware of. Self harm is a remedy for the pent up physical manifestation of trauma, and can also look like: burning, pulling of hair, banging of body parts, scratching, or interference with wound healing. And lord, do I struggle with the last two.

(A note: individuals with mental illness or sensitive/fragile dispositions may be more susceptible to being affected by these daily traumas. I would guess that this is the reason we see higher numbers of self harm within this group of people.)

I spent a year or two in such emotional distress that I compulsively scratched at my skin until it scarred; both on my legs and my ass. My boyfriend at the time would chastise me, complaining that I was ruining my skin, but I literally couldn't stop. I wouldn't realize that I was doing it until I would bleed and even then it was still strangely comforting. It wasn't painful, but it was a habit that I struggled to break.

I find myself occasionally still engaging in this behavior, though it's not nearly as often. But the scars will forever remain, and when I went over to Jade's studio for an impromptu photo shoot, she asked for us to strip and highlight one specific body part. Our ass.

Of course.

But, I know as well as you that facing our body fears head on is one of the most powerful experiences we can have. I was surrounded by wonderful women, in Jade's warm presence, and determined to represent the ladies who don't have flawless asses. So strip I did.

I seem to be getting naked a lot lately.

I didn't allow myself to think much while posing; I focused on wrapping my arms around the ladies I was next to. In a blink it was over, but through that momentary shoot I ended the years of shameful concealment. The entire world would soon see the marks, and because of this, there was no longer a need to keep them under wraps. I no longer needed to hide them, even from myself.

It's strange how something so basic can change something so historically complicated.

So that Saturday I stopped giving a shit about my imperfect ass. It's blemished because of the stressful world we live in; nothing more, nothing less. It was my Achilles' heel for so long, but no longer. I've been slowly crossing off parts of my body that I was ashamed of, one by one. And thanks to Jade, I've nixed another.

So that's cool.

You can read Jade's full entry about that night here. I would highly recommend it... there are many more beautiful pictures to be seen!

We all have our stories and secrets. We all have our insecurities and perceived flaws. Don't ever feel alone or guilty for being one of the many. But also know that our bodies are gorgeously unique, and the fact that not one is exactly alike is the most magnificent part of all. Uniformity is what they teach us, but that doesn't exist. Allow your body to be what it is, how it is. Allow it to not fit in. Allow it to have wrinkles, scars, cellulite, freckles, dimples, discoloration, or bumps. Allow it to exist and serve you so that you can live your life to the fullest.

I can love my body, scars and all, because it allows me to type this. Because it allows me to speak out for others. Because it allows me to lunge across the dance floor. Because it allows me to stand in a classroom and teach. Because it allows me to love on my cats and kiss the top of their heads. Because it allows me to orgasm multiple times. Because it lets me hug my Mom for as long as I like.

Because it holds the beauty on the inside, and also radiates beauty on the outside.
Because every mark tells a story.
Because every story is me.

What will you embrace today?
What part of your body will you allow to just be?

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