Your body, your story. You.
Seven stories about intimacy and what it means for the women we’ve had the honor to meet and spend a day in their company, photographing and getting to know them, before it all started. The entire team has poured its soul into this beautiful project that celebrates women and we hope it brings a bit of light and beauty in the (small) world around us. It pains us to see so many vulnerable women, children and men people no voice and no power over their lives now and while we hope for kinder times and peaceful days, it keeps us sane to do what we know best: to keep creating and to bring comfort and ease into every day, as much as we can.
Meet, from left to right, Irina, Adina, Alexia, Ada, Sony, Ioana and Alexandra. Thank you for being you, for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and to share your feelings and findings.
“I used to feel never good enough. Growing up and starting to develop my curves, someone dear to be would try to tell me to not eat after 5pm, to eat less, and healthy.
Around the age of 20, after moving out I started doubting myself. What if they were right? So I joined a nutrition program. Lost 12kg in 4 months. And I got to around 74kg at 182cm. So close to the "ideal", right?
Yet I felt utterly miserable. I hated my life. I was so frustrated, angry and hungry all the time. I was weak and would get dizzy often. Even though "I had the right nutrition". And even more than before I hated my body. I lost all of my beautiful curves yet I was not skinny.
After about half a year I started gaining the weight back. So I got into another nutrition program. Shortly after I realized this will never work and I stopped weighing myself. I became a vegetarian (for different purposes but it still helps with my alimentation). I started pole dancing and stopped worrying about what others think. Started loving my body just the way it is and being grateful for what it does for me on a daily basis. And now I am enjoying every step of my adventure towards loving my body, my soul's home.”
We asked Ioana if there is something about her body that she feels she should embrace more:
“I can't lie and say nothing. As much as I love my body and despite all the confidence I built... self love is a journey. And we all have insecurities to work on. I've always been self conscious about my breasts. When I was skinnier because I had none. And when I started gaining weight because they were still small but now I had stretch marks on them as well. I had nights literally crying in the bathroom while looking in the mirror because I hated them. Because they are not "like they should be".
Then one day, I happened to see a woman with very similar features. And I found them, her beautiful. So I started asking myself... why do I love them on her but hate them so much on me? They are exactly how they should be because there is not a right or wrong way to look. My growth is a continuous process. So, while I might not be there yet, I accept myself as I am more and more each day.”
“I see my body as the vessel with the help of which I’m getting through life and it allows me to experience many things. It’s a sensorial body, a sexual body and (the one we tend to care about the most), a visual body, that’s supposed to be aesthetically pleasing, mostly to the gaze of others. I say mostly because we live in times when these aesthetics can be rather damaging to our mental health, when comparison becomes a thing.
What my mom instilled in me, growing up, was caring about how my body feels before the way it looks. I can say I’m lucky to be very in touch with how I feel, and I allow myself to respond to those needs first. Moving my body is a way of maintaining it flexible, not keeping track of a number on a scale. I enjoy the rush of endorphins after a workout, but I also allow my body to rest when it needs to, and I recently noticed how in tune my body is with my menstrual cycle, so I listen to that.
I love my body, even with cellulite or my thighs rubbing against each other. I know happiness wouldn’t come if they’d be slimmer, I’d just be chasing some other obsession, in an endless loop. Our biology is given to us for a good reason, and we’re not supposed to look like others - in the past years I’ve made peace with my nose, even if it’s bigger than I wish it would be; poor thing, it frames my face just right. A smaller nose would look weird! I nourish my body, I speak kindly to it, I give it grace, I appreciate it letting me represent myself in this world and I want to believe that it repays me by being functional. Because our bodies are flesh, they’re meant to be working from a biological perspective, before they’re visually appealing.”
We asked Irina if there is something about her body that she feels she should embrace more:
“Definitely my thighs, but I have recently reframed this as them being strong instead of big. I couldn't climb mountains or run or do pliés without the muscles that add some bulk. Overall I'm working at accepting the fact that a fluctuating physical appearance is part of life and the process of ageing, and that shouldn't restrict or determine how I live my life, nor my sense of self-worth.”
"Being a teenager while using social media definitely changed my perspective about how my body should look like. I had this constant fight with my weight and the color of my skin. I always wanted to be skinny, thinking that this is the first step to be beautiful, to love your body. I tried so many diets and none gave me the long term results I was expecting. Not until I started to work out. It was usually during the summer because we have to show our bodies at the beach and that was always an anxious time for me.
But at some point it became a habit and since then I changed my mindset regarding my body. I love working out now and I don't do it to lose weight, but rather because I see that my body is becoming stronger and at the end of the day I am thankful for it as it is my home. There is no perfect body as I thought and that's ok. I learnt that confidence and validation comes from yourself first, from your thoughts and what to choose to give power to. At the end of the day, it's you versus you. This is the one of the best lesson that my not so good relationship with my body in the past taught me."
We asked Sony if there is something about her body that she feels she should embrace more:
"The fact that we all have different shapes and types of bodies and we shouldn't define our standards based on social media but look more around us, into the real world to see the raw beauty of people which is not limited to the body, but also to the energy that the person has around him/her.
I didn't think like that not so long ago and it only put me down and made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I am still working on this and it only gets better once you find the strength, the confidence and the beauty within yourself first. It only gets better!”.
She is one of the seven women we’ve had the honor to meet and spend the day photographing last month. A kind and artistic soul, she describes the relationship with her body as being under an evolving - loving - caring construction.
In her own words, Ada considers herself a piece of the world puzzle, but an intelligent, strong, tender, beautiful, sensitive, crazy one.
Ada is wearing The BASIC Bodysuit with long sleeve | Nude, The BASIC Bra | Blue, The BASIC Briefs | Blue.
“My relationship with my body is about love and almost acceptance. I used to love him but with time it got some transformation, especially after pregnancy, and obviously it is not how it used to be. I have accepted it but didn't really make me happy. Recently I have started dancing classes which really connected me with my body. I am discovering new things about it and I am also experiencing new transformations. We are taking it slow but I think it might be the real thing.”
In regard to self-intimacy, we asked Adina if there is something about her body that she feels she should embrace more:
“I think it is a continuous journey, but what I would like to do more in relationship with my body is to share more care, love and joy. You can’t really have enough.” And we could not agree more.
“When I was in preadolescence and adolescence I always found “defects” in my appearance. I used to link my value as a girl to them and allow it to change my mood accordingly. It was as if because my face wasn’t as symmetrical as I wanted it to be, all my other qualities weren’t good also (not smart enough, not funny enough, not desirable). But now, I can say that I’m almost 100% confident in my body and I cherish it for what it does for me. The “click” occurred when I realized my happiness relied on things that I couldn’t change. So why fixate on things that are not in our power to replace?”.
Intimacy should begin first and foremost within. Taking time to focus on self-intimacy, to acknowledge the areas where one needs to grow, to accept or to change what can be changed for your mental health is a significant step.
We asked Alexia if there is something about her body that she feels she should embrace more:
“I need to embrace that my body is constantly changing. My weight will probably fluctuate my entire life, my hair won’t look its best every day and I will not be young forever. Before, I had a fear of going shopping and having to go a size up. I felt embarrassed and somehow guilty of “letting loose”. Now, I know my body is adapting to each stage of my life. We, as women, need to realize we are a lot more than a number on the scale, tag, or a reflection in the mirror.”
“My story on the relationship with my body comes from a place of vulnerability and love, from a place full of compassion and kindness that I had to find for myself so my own body can feel safe, from a long-long inner journey where parts of myself were deeply accepted, deeply nourished, healed, cared and respected.
The relationship with my body is a cultivated relationship with a lot of love, acceptance, patience, compassion and understanding, with a lot of self-knowledge and discovery, with a lot of emotional and physical healing. The body has become my best friend who communicates with me, sometimes primarily through my skin – if something is not ok deep inside, it comes out on my skin. 24 years back, when I was still a kid, 10 years old, I was diagnosed with a noncontagious autoimmune disease characterized by raised areas of abnormal skin, known as psoriasis. Psoriasis varies in severity from small, localized patches to complete body coverage. An incurable disease they used to tell me, one that would potentially limit me from becoming and thriving if I were to listen some people at that time. “You have to choose an easy, less stressful life, because that would make your psoriasis less harmful” or “For a woman the body is important, so your skin should be your priority” I was told as a young girl. But I was not listening, my mother especially was shifting everything towards “You can do whatever you feel and choose to do, you are who you choose to be not what others tell you to be or the way they see you.”
All my teenage years were defined by the way people looked at my body - overanalyzing what’s not normal for them, to their minds, it felt like the outcast, the girl that looked different, the girl that was hiding to avoid being bullied, being asked and being under observation, the girl that was not showing who she really was as she was afraid that the world around her was questioning her own existence just because her skin was different. Basically I grew up and lived all the stages of my life in connection with my body, with a body that was visibly bursting on the skin through patches all over my skin, on my face sometimes and on my scalp. The worst chapter I had it was with almost 85% of my body being covered with patches or personal tattoos as I’m now calling them (it was in 12th grade when I had the most severe episode), with moments of intense anxiety. I was always on treatments which were sometimes overwhelming and it was coming up with insecurities. This continued to happen until things deeply changed in me. And that happened later on when I was 16-17. Then it was the time I started to see my body just as it is and my road towards accepting it, has begun. It was not just me alone on this road – it came with a circle of trust, support and acceptance I had around myself from my family and closed ones.
Summer times were the worst times for me especially in my teenage years. I used to cover parts of my body, overheating myself, not choosing what I would love to wear or feel to wear but what I had to wear to cover myself up. Most of the times I was avoiding swimming pools unless I was going with my family or very close friends with whom I was feeling safe & secured to go with because they just know my story and who I am inside. I was avoiding outings if I had to undress myself in swimwear or if I was going, I would just keep myself dressed even though deep inside I was craving for that freedom to just be “normal” as everybody else around, showing up and fully enjoying the experiences. But no, I was hiding. I was hiding myself from the world being afraid of their perception on me and judgments so I was trying to avoid those contexts that would make me even more vulnerable than I was and to avoid harsh moments I used to have when I was for instance not allowed to get in spa or a swimming area just because of what they perceive as “a skin disease”.
Even though I was trying to talk openly about it and explain, sometimes I was even carrying with me a medical proof to avoid these contexts and all that over justification that I was not having a contagious skin disease. It felt to me like I had to prove my permission to certain life experiences. And that was overwhelming, mentally and emotionally draining but that has built my inner strength, it has created more receptivity, more sensibility and empathy for what the society, what the world perceived as “abnormal”.
Living with psoriasis involves constant care for your body, your skin, attention to food, quality of life, your relationship with your body and social relationships, externalities, the environment (climate, air, water - everything that comes in contact with your skin), by default the garments & textiles you put in direct contact with your skin, and above all your inner balance, how you feel in your skin, in your own body. There were times when even though I knew I have to be in constant contact with myself and to be my own observer, I did the worst I could do to my body. I start pushing myself, my body so hard just to over-prove my worth and that I am more than my body, my skin. The programme that has built me as a teenager governed the relationship with my body and I was in a constant toxic competition with that sick societal programme. Till the moment I have realized not long time ago that this has to stop and this programme has to get out my system.
That moment was a life changing moment for me. From that moment I started to consciously understand that I am here with myself and with everything around me just the way I am.
When we asked Alexandra what she feels she should embrace more, it came naturally:
“My skin. It took me some time to realize that my skin is my lung to the outer world. I’m not defined by the way the world and even myself used to perceive as “abnormal”. The skin is an amazing human organ part of the body and is amazing just as the way it comes in the world, as a protection layer for what’s inside your body. I fully embrace my skin and I’m not hiding it anymore when the outbursts are there. All hidden things are beautiful. I am here to show up with my entire being and raise up in this world as fully as I am. This body belongs to me, it’s my home, it’s my soul’s home.
I am a woman. I am a human being in a woman’s body. This is what I keep telling myself every single morning for some time.“
Alexandra is wearing The SALON Bodysuit | Black.