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pen and ink, watercolor, colored pencil, marker, masking medium
I grew up in an extremely religious, fundamentalist Christian household raised by a self-proclaimed anti-feminist. Led by "Focus on the Family," my parents taught me I should always dress modestly lest I cause my brothers in Christ to stumble. It was my responsibility to keep their minds pure, not their own. If my bra strap peeked out it meant I wanted to have sex with someone, so I was constantly self conscious. I was taught to never pursue boys, never take pleasure in the flesh, and of course never, ever have sex before marriage.
As I got older and my worldview expanded and I rebelled against my upbringing. I became a feminist, considered privilege, and championed consent culture. I taught my daughters autonomy, that they alone are in charge of their bodies and what is done to them. That it is never their responsibility to keep the minds and actions of others pure. That they should never give affection to someone simply because they felt obligated to. I saw the Goddess everywhere: In my daughters, in the faces of glowing, fierce birthing women, the wisdom of elders. The Goddess' sensuality, grace, ferocity, wisdom, and nurturing presence inspired me and my artwork.
My mind felt freer than ever before, but the messages from my childhood seeped through my pores and took residence in every cell in my body. When a message is ingrained in you since birth you are not easily free of it. I felt embarrassed by my body and could never step outside of my own head during intimacy. Whenever I would confess my "problem" I always became someone's project, something broken to be fixed, which of course only made me more self conscious.
Then I met a man who is now my husband, who took my self loathing and embarrassment and made it completely irrelevant. His quiet, unassuming honesty dismantled me and in his arms I felt completely at ease. I wasn't broken, there was nothing to fix, and I felt myself open in a way that I never had before. He took my mind and all my beliefs and connected them to my body until I believed them. I was completely transformed.
This piece is done to honor that sweet, pure, boundless sensuality I found within myself that day. I share it with my story so that others may find solace and healing within themselves. To those bound by self loathing, misogyny, and antiquated religion, YOU ARE NOT BROKEN.