Lightweight, part two

A couple of months ago I wrote Lightweight, exploring the issue of weight when there’s less of it. At the time I said I wanted to cover this issue more and I have spoken before about wanting to see more men on Exposing 40. Last night a friend read out a Facebook post from one of her male friends. As soon as she started reading I just knew I wanted to post it here. Happily he said yes, so I am very honoured to repost some very powerful and important words about male body positivity.

Anders, by Wolfgang Tillmans

Anders, by Wolfgang Tillmans

I had a busy couple of days this past weekend, (heck, the last couple of weekends), but I’ve had a lot of time to think in between and there have been a few things stuck in my head, bouncing around, that I’ve thought about sharing including one very personal thing about my journey to get in shape. This week I crossed a threshold that I’ve never crossed before in my entire life. Today I weighed in at over 150 lbs for the first time ever (152 to be exact). I don’t like to talk about my weight and almost never mention it because it usually comes with someone making a comment about me being lucky or “I wish I had that problem” but I’ve struggled with my weight all my life; not getting rid of it, putting it on. Growing up, and even in early adulthood, I was constantly inundated with people telling me I need to eat more or saying I look like I was starving and need to put on some weight or any number of beanpole references. I didn’t even break 100 lbs until I was almost in college.

One time when was about 16 I went to a friend’s relative’s house for dinner. She kept insisting I eat more because I was so skinny. She plopped seconds on my plate and pushed dessert in front of me. I tried to politely refuse but ended up giving in, and shortly after dinner threw up in the bathroom from eating so much. I never told my friend or his mom, but it felt horrible. I was so embarrassed and felt unbelievably ashamed. It was like that at a lot of dinners when I was a kid, although thankfully not with my close family. People saw my weight as a problem they needed to fix or at least tell me how to fix.

Being the skinniest boy in Junior and High school also meant I was voted most likely to get my ass kicked for no reason other than most people could. As an adult it got slightly better but still had its issues. For my first real professional job, I had to shop in the boys section at the department store to find dress pants that would fit me.

Needless to say I’ve had a pretty bad body image almost my entire life, but I never talk about it. Partly because I know so many people struggle with losing weight and see being skinny as the perfect way to be, and partly because no one takes it seriously. I’m not trying to say that what I’ve gone through is harder or worse than what anyone else has gone through regarding any body shaming but what I felt was and is real nonetheless.

But today I’m proud. Today I’m happy for me. I smiled at a scale for the first time in my life. And it was a real scale! The kind with the sliding weights and everything. And I didn’t have shoes or heavy clothes on either. This was legit.

I share this because for the first time in my life I’m starting to feel good about my body, and that’s something that guys (and particularly skinny guys) never ever talk about, but I can assure you there are lots of us who feel it. We just can’t and don’t talk about it.

I love my body right now and it makes me happy, and if I can share my happy and cause someone else feel that way too, then sharing is worth it.


Liberté, égalitié, sexualitié

I haven’t had a guest post on Exposing 40 for a while – more because of my crazy schedule through the winter and spring than lack of interest. I have a few shoots lined up over the summer months which I am very excited about sharing here, so keep an eye out. I’m also really happy to host photos not taken by me and here’s a super hot example of one of those!

Back story: I’ve been working in Uganda this past week. When I’m holed up in darky dingy hotel rooms I am always happy to hear from partners and when my WhatsApp pings with a new photo I inevitably feel a frisson of excitement. This week a message read “Candidate for Exposing 40?”. It turned out to not be a photo of him, but of his wife. I hope you enjoy the fabulous photo and her reflections on their recent holiday as much as I did. I think she needs to turn the lens on him next so there’s a partner to this image!

Liberté, égalitié, sexualitié

For our 19th wedding anniversary we decided it would be different to spend a long weekend in Cap D’Adge. In case you are not familiar with this resort in the south of France, it’s both a major naturist venue and Europe’s capital of swinging (or as it is known in continental Europe, libertinism).

It’s a holiday I wouldn’t have dared take 10 years ago, when I was less positive and more inhibited about my body (despite, ironically, being in better shape then). I wish I had, for Cap D’Agde is nothing if not body positive and lacking in inhibition. All ages, shapes, sizes and predilections are here: sunkissed, sandy, salacious – but never shy.

The human body and the pleasure of sex are worshipped together at Cap d’Adge. This mix of hedonism and nudism runs against traditional naturism, and nothing better emphasises the elision of physicality, exhibitionism and orgasm than the nights. These are about outrageous dress and flaunted flesh. It is the women who tend to such displays, though with more than a dozen libertine clubs, all the clothing tends to come off anyway. I enjoyed wearing outfits considered risque in the bedroom as well as appreciating other women of all ages with the confidence to dress thrillingly and unambiguously for the enjoyment of sex.

But it is in the daytime at the swinger section of the beach where things are at their most transgressive. Pensioners casually stroke their partner’s cock or cunt, while swarthy men with depliated genitals are ridden by exotic buxom blondes to an audience of masturbating men. I found this latter element a little intimidating, but mainly irritating – especially when my husband and I fucked in the shallow sea and a zombie-like herd appeared from nowhere.

That, however, is to dwell on the negative. Overwhelmingly, Cap D’Agde is a place of permissiveness and pleasure. To be naked all day, free to engage in public sex with approval and enthusiasm was liberating in a way that’s difficult to convey. It’s easier to feel good about your body when it’s hard to imagine being judged.

This image was taken by my husband shortly after we’d had mutual oral sex on a packed beach. I like it because it implies the contened, carefree exhaustion and openness I felt.

If you fancy a day out with me and my camera do let me know, or if you have self portraits or written reflections about your body, sex, self-confidence, life in your 40s that you want to share, just let me know…

Sinful Sunday

Bring on the men…

Some of you may have seen my post earlier in the week about male nudes. I mentioned towards the end of the piece that I hadn’t had any men get involved with Exposing 40 yet and I hoped that changed because body positivity is not just a women’s issue.

Mike H left this comment:

“I liked reading this. As a 41 year old who isn’t happy with my self-image and is more comfortable behind the camera, it would be nice to see the discussion opening up about men who aren’t buff, tanned, bearded or tattooed. I have moobs and love handles and a tummy so I’m doubtful that I would ever be brave enough to pose, but who knows, my partner likes my naked body – I may let her loose with my camera for a while.”

I suggested I’d be happy to host a photo when the time felt right. The conversation continued over DM on Twitter and, well, it turns out the right time was sooner than expected…

So, here’s Mike!

I am extremely honoured that he took these photos, very very proud that Exposing 40 has encouraged this bravery, and so happy that Sinful Sunday exists to give my little effort a voice within a community.

Mike sent me four photos and I chose two. I love the relaxed reclining on the sofa photo and the sense of humour that shines through with the use of the Beef book! And the chest shot? Well, the sense of power in the image and that strong mouth and fabulous stubble meant I just had to create a broody black and white edit to complement the colour version…

PicsArt_1440672758011 (2)  PicsArt_1440672758011 (3)

PicsArt_1440673296349 (2)



Behind the Camera

My Twitter profile describes this as a “body positive photography adventure for friends of all shapes & sizes. Some behind the camera, some in front, some provide ideas.” Completely unprompted, this has just arrived in my inbox. I am blown away. But for the record, I disagree with the first bit…

Let’s get the sob-story stuff out of the way first.

I’ve always known I wasn’t pretty. A school photographer implied it when I was 13 and my mother confirmed it for me not long after that by telling people at a family gathering that my older sister had been a beautiful baby. When I asked if I’d been beautiful, she told me I’d been ‘funny-looking’.

Never fish for compliments, boys and girls, you might just find an old boot on the end of your line.

Anyway. As a result of trying to be more pretty I’ve experimented over the years with a selection of unwise make-up products, awful clothes, and no-sane-person-would-willingly-choose-this hairstyles. My clothes size over the years has fluctuated between a size 22 and a size 14 (the black coffee and cigarette years). I’ve got weird teeth. Honestly, I could sit and tell you every single thing that’s wrong with my body and my face and I could probably also tell you every fat-shaming comment that’s been directed my way. Some of them are even in French, ooh la la.

But that’s as far as the poor me diatribe goes.

What I don’t have in looks, I more than make up for in personality. I have a brain. I have a wicked sense of humour. And I am creative.

As soon as C told us about Exposing 40 I started thinking of photographic concepts. For other people rather than for myself, although I did have an ill-advised attempt at some selfies in a pair of spike-heeled sex-shoes. I’ve been reading the blog avidly and am marveling at how stunning all the photos look, and the precious stories behind them.

I’m not planning my own naked photo yet. I don’t feel comfortable yet with the idea of being a) photographed and b) judged. But this weekend I’ll be up at 6am to art direct what is sure to be a gorgeous shot. I have sketches aplenty and more ideas than you can shake a stick at.

I may not be a beauty, but I’m a fucking goddess when it comes to creating something beautiful.