Appreciation

I grew up in Utah and am very much a “product” of the Utah mormon culture. I was sort of a poster child in my youth – held leadership positions in Young Women’s, attended seminary, happily participated in church activities, dressed modestly; never realizing, however, the negative affect it would have on my sexuality and the intimate relationship with my husband. I have always felt like a pretty girl – thought I had nice hair and a pretty face. But, I never learned to embrace my sexuality, and my body was something to be covered and not celebrated. As a result, I have been extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. My view of what I should be, based on what the culture of the church teaches, who I think I should be, and who I think my husband wants me to be, causes a lot of anxiety and lack of confidence because I haven’t felt like I am “being” anyone of those and disappointing all of them.

Your work has dramatically helped that insecurity. Seeing these brave women has helped me feel normal and beautiful. I see their bodies and I think, “Wow, they are really beautiful”. Then I realize I look very similar to them. It has been a helpful reflection. Hearing their stories have helped me feel like there is someone that can relate to me. Seeing their confidence, despite all their own imperfections, has boosted mine. I love that they love their bodies. I hope I can learn to love and celebrate mine. I hope to be more confident in my own skin like these women are in theirs. -JENNA

I just wanted to say thank you for this website. I felt the same way about myself though I am a male. I have since learned that too often restrictions are put on us by society and man’s interpretation of God’s law. It is true that modesty is important, but that should never overshadow a person’s view of him or herself or a view of their worth. I applaud all those who are participating and the builders of this site. God is with you. -JASON

I just wanted to send you a message and let you know how liberating it was for me, a 43 year old mother of six, to view your project Mormon Women Bare.  I have never really embraced my body.  When I was young and in shape, I was too skinny and flat chested to ever be too beautiful.  Then, after having six kids, I am saggy and stretched.  Although I am considered “thin” for what I have put my body through, I’ve never really viewed myself as desirable…even though my husband would say otherwise.  When I saw the photos, it’s the first time that I didn’t feel like my body was abnormal or weird…with all of it’s stretch marks and flaws.  I felt at one with women that I have never met and in a strange way…understood.  So thanks to you and the others involved in this project.  It has given me the opportunity to view myself through a new lens.  I guess it’s true, “better late than never”.  Thank you. -KAYLA

As a faithful LDS woman and psychologist, I am profoundly moved by this project.  As a counselor at a religious institution (where I also received my Ph.D.) I heard stories of many women who felt ashamed of their bodies.  Most had never seen their parents around the house naked.  And the idea of exposing their bodies when/if they married brought up a large amount of anxiety and dread.  I love how these women pictured look so empowered and at peace.  A project like Katrina’s gives me hope for LDS women’s mental health. -KRISTY

Katrina, I love MWB. I actually wasn’t sure I would enjoy it when the project was first announced but once it went live, I couldn’t get over how beautiful and personal it was. I’m still in that awkward postpartum stage where nothing fits right, my tummy is squishy, and overall, I’m feeling less than magazine worthy. But when I saw MWB, I was overwhelmed by the sense of self-love and acceptance these women exuded. Their bodies were normal, natural, and beautiful. Some were postpartum bodies that looked just like mine. Seeing their self-acceptance helped me to feel comfortable accepting and being at home in my own skin. I thank you so much for this project. -AMY

MWB really helped me confront my own negative body image issues. I was looking at the pictures going, “These women are gorgeous.” Then I realized that I’m far harsher on myself than I am on these women, and that my body is just as beautiful. I also really really love and appreciate that it shows that beauty in the nude does not have to be synonymous with sexuality/seductiveness/etc. -ESTHER

I cried when I first saw them. It hit to the core of all the insecurities I had felt about my own body that I’ve been working through. It was so powerful to see these women move beyond that. I know that for my daughters to accept and love their own bodies, I must first love mine. I know that a woman’s worth should not be defined by what society would have us believe her body SHOULD look like, and that beauty begins with loving yourself first, which is what all these women did. Through their bravery, they raise all women up. -CLARICE

This project is inspirational. As a Mormon woman, I have been unintentionally taught to hate my body. To be ashamed of my body, which is a creation of our Father in Heaven. This project tastefully and artfully shows us the beauty of His amazing creation. My body is not perfect. I have many fat rolls, stretch marks, and moles. But my body is a gift, given to me by my Divine Creator. This project is essential in the process of making women, especially women of my faith, realize their gifts and divine potential. -JENNY

I have gained 50lbs since getting married (post 3 pregnancies). I look at my body and I cry because it is not what I think it should be. Then when I see the MWB project, I see beauty and confidence and acceptance. I realize that I can love my body. I can love my body. I can love my body. It takes time to learn. But these beautiful pictures remind me: I can love my body.-MALLORY

I grew up LDS, and also grew up an artist. I was ashamed of my naked body, much like Eve after the fall, but at the same time, I was drawn to the curves and the colors and the soft, absolute beauty of it. Katrina, and all your brave beautiful models, your project, the photos combined with the stories, celebrates my LDS upbringing as well as my love for the human figure. You brought those two hands together and made my life less of a contradiction. Thank you. -CHRISTINA

I think the photos and the project are beautiful. I love seeing real women’s bodies. The female body is truly an artful creation, full of power, and is beautiful to see in all of it’s shapes and forms. I think this project is eye-opening and teaches an important lesson that our bodies should be celebrated, not hidden like something shameful. Thanks for your great idea & to your brave models! -TIFFANY

For me, the MWB project was both surprising and uplifting. I am incredibly hard on myself and my body is part of that. I tend to compare myself to others all the time and seeing these women exercising bold vulnerability and fierce self-respect was a real eye opener. My body is beautiful, and it is mine to claim and mine to love. -EMMETT

Becoming acquainted with nudity as a nurse completely changed the way I viewed the bodies of others, especially those of women. They really are beautiful. It was so freeing for me and I am incredibly grateful. I have often wished that everyone could have the same opportunity, and I think this project is such a great way to provide that. -BETHANY

I saw beauty in every single photograph. Beauty in the bodies showing lives that have been lived. Beauty in the homes that they were photographed in and where they are surrounded by family. I saw bravery in the women’s faces and I felt joyful knowing that we can all be proud and showcase God’s greatest creation, the human body. Bravo. -ABBIGAIL

Revolutionary! Katrina, Amanda, and the rest of the women involved in this project are heroic and great examples and role models to my 16yo daughter who struggles with the pharisaic modesty emphasis in our culture. I told her about the project today. I can’t thank all of you enough for making Mormonism better for my daughter and all of us! All of you represent the very best of Mormonism! -KEVIN

I wish for a culture where women’s bodies can be seen for what they are rather than some highly sexualized object that is merely there for the gaze and objectification of others. These women are brave and paving the way for a whole new perspective on the human body. One where nudity isn’t shameful… A world where women are neither shamed nor defined by their bodies. -RORY

Thanks a lot to antagonistic attitudes toward the body in Mormondon and in the USA as a whole, I realize that even as a 30-something adult, I don’t know that much about what normal human bodies look like, especially women’s bodies. If Mormon Women Bare can teach so much about how each body is different, and with such a (so far) small sample size, how much more then must there be to know? And I don’t mean that in a purely scientific sense–I mean that I feel like I can read something of the humanity of each of the women that I couldn’t in any other way. And that’s quite the gift these volunteer models give us, to share their personal stories with us in that way.

I feel like the ostensible motives behind modesty teaching are good as far as they go, but modesty ends up reinforcing the negative attitudes towards bodies it is said to combat. But your project, Sister Anderson, by being candid, succeeds where modesty fails at promoting respect and love for the body. -BETHANY

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