I’ve been debating about posting this photo for the past few months. Being naked has such a negative and sexual connotation and part of me feels so exposed. But this photo is one that I am incredibly proud of. I used to think of bodies as something to hide. I was jealous of the way by classmate’s slim bodies fit into Abercrombie clothing. I would squeeze my tummy and just wish it to go away. I was ashamed of the way my body curved in ways that the media didn’t portray. I struggled with being healthy up until last year. My mom always said, “I want you to be healthy and aim for that rather than to be skinny and aim for a certain weight.” And yet somewhere in my head I was trying so hard to be something out of the unrealistic media instead of myself. After my first year at college, my mental and physical health deteriorated. My unresolved mental health issues aided in the lack of motivation to help myself physically. I gained the freshman 30 that I was so adamant about losing in the first place. I became more uncomfortable in my own skin than I had ever been before. Although I had a solid hatred for my own body, I fell in love with the beauty of others. Being at college, I had realized that the media was wrong. I had seen all different types of bodies in all shapes, sizes, colors… I had a deep motivation to love my own as much as I loved other people’s. I also had a deep motivation to take care of my body and my mind more than I had before. I fell in love with not only the idea of self-care but also of self-love. I began following other people’s body positivity movements which included (mainly) women who were disabled, recovering from eating disorders, or just wanted to be empowered in their own skin. Throughout the summer, I took control of my mental health and began medication. By being happier, I had the motivation to eat healthier and became more active. My face stopped breaking out all the time, I lost most of what I had gained, I stopped looking at the sizes of what I was buying and instead focused on what looked good, but above all; I began falling in love with my own body. Eating healthy and being active made me feel good. I was no longer doing it to lose weight but I was doing it because I felt better. And since my mental health was being helped, I had the motivation to continue to take care of myself. Now, while I might not be at the weight I wanted to be at or to look the shape I wanted to be, I only find beauty in myself. This is why this image is so important to me. I took this photo to show the purity of the human form. I finally feel comfortable enough to be exposed. And I no longer think of my body as a sexual being. I no longer try to oversexualize myself because that’s not the purpose of my body and that is not me in my true form. (There is nothing wrong with being sexual but that’s just not me.) My body is my home. It is pure and beautiful and unique. It is beautiful with my scars, with my stretch marks, with my birth marks, and whatever else may be visible. This is why I’m finally able to show this photo. Because it is not a sexual photo. It is me, in a bath, taking care of myself. It is raw and it is innocent. But it is also mature. And if you aren’t able to look at this photo as the raw and innocent over the sexual than I don’t believe you should be looking. Although I’m nervous to post this photo, it is finally time for my confidence to shine through and for me to stop apologizing for something that every single one of us have.