Sure, in those days film had to go elsewhere for development and parents toting rolls to Fotomat could have been accused of trafficking in kiddie porn. Plus it was just not done, at least not by anyone in my world, so evidence of my development is limited to either from-the-neck up or fully clothed and often both. Yes, the clothing itself is part of the story … those fashion victim shots that provide much amusement to generations following, right up to the time platform shoes and low-ride jeans came back on the scene, and I am glad I didn’t grow up in a country where the never-changing burqa look wipes out even that progression … but no matter how hard I try I cannot manage to conjure any image of what my body was doing underneath the clothing.
The older I get the more I long to see myself in earlier forms. I know I began the morph into womanhood sometime around the age of twelve, but have little recollection of how that happened, how long it took or what shifted where when. I longed for boobs, but the process of filling from A to D cup and the look and feel of that blooming is lost to me.
I suppose I could have begun an anthology at some point myself, but it would not have occurred to me at any early age to start taking naked shots of me. No, once that naked baby phase is over, unclothed on film only happens in the movies. (One advantage of going into porn, I suppose, but that never occurred to me, either.)
I’m fairly sure my body was lovely in all conventional senses once I hit the mid- teen years, although not what I wanted. I was curvy with big boobs and hips, long legged, tall and flexible, and very un-Twig-like, a fashion trend at the time I could not pull off. What I wouldn’t give now to get a good look at just how good looking I actually was!
A shot of me at 17 would show me in the full glory of my first pregnancy, and although I do remember how my belly looked from the vantage point of looking down upon it, I can’t see anything of myself below my equator and I sure would like to ponder my whole baby-making self.
In my twenties I had all those non-moms to compare myself to, so focused on things like stretch marks and breasts that had gone a bit non-perky, so there was no way I’d have posed for photos of that body. What a shame I was ashamed.
I didn’t begin to find comfort in my own skin until sometime in my 30s and feel I may have looked my best at about 40, although thats a tough call with no evidence. I know I felt good and spent a lot of time unclothed, but that had something to do with that tropical island thing and the fact that Mark and I lived for a while on an almost deserted beach. There are a couple of photos of me from that time, and I’m grateful for those as a study of a firm, smooth body I under-appreciated even then. (Less grateful for the ones taken more recently when Ernesto was here, but I suspect if I live long enough even those will prove interesting and create some longing for the me I am now.)
I can’t help but wonder why it is we ignore and hide the progression of ourselves and our children. While documenting so much of growth and development we leave out something as important as how our bodies change to the point of thinking there is something wrong with capturing images along the way. We mark height, keep track of weights, save every lost tooth, yet allow the drama of our changing form to dissolve into vague notions our aging selves can not grasp.
Think of how helpful it might be if we could show our budding daughters what we looked like as we navigated the rough seas of puberty, jumping ahead a page or two to let them know how it turns out without them having to assume they’ll assume our proportions, whatever those may be, at the time they are holding hopes of not turning into us. See? We were young once, too!
I’m not talking about a coffee table album here, but were I to have a collection of nude photos of myself through the years secreted away somewhere, I would pull it out from time to time and allow myself to remember me and celebrate what I was too embarrassed to flaunt and too shy to notice before fleet of form turned into a fleeting glimpse I can’t quite catch.