Unapologetic Beauty is a book that is a collaboration between me and the photographer Frances Murray. Our Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for its materialization is underway.
Unapologetic Beauty addresses today's crazy beauty ideal by describing and defining it and offering sanity through self-acceptance. Elegant and visceral post-mastectomy photos exemplify unapologetic beauty.
"Unapologetic Beauty is a guidebook that welcomes people into new ways of seeing and talking about female beauty—ahas! of understanding and sighs of relief. It is equally an educational tool and a healing manual. The text and pictures work together to lift readers out of the abyss of imperfections and never-enough that the beauty ideal imposes. We present ways to reimagine, so that girls and women can envision, create, and be comfortable in their own uniquely unapologetic beauty."
"Frances is a photographer, and I am a writer. She is known for her elegant nudes and my writings are known for exploring beauty and the body.
Seeds for Unapologetic Beauty are Frances's and my friendship of over thirty years and a bilateral mastectomy after a diagnosis of cancer in each breast. The date of that surgery was June 2012 and I was the patient. Frances and I are great confidantes and playmates, and our friendship is proven, through thick and thin. We count on each other and feel safe together, and from the generosity, trust, exuberance, and delight at the heart of our friendship comes the collaborative strength to discover and develop a new language of beauty that we call unapologetic beauty.
In Frances's and my collaboration, beauty is unapologetically peaceful, happy, playful, brave, at ease, seductive, pensive, and exhilarated."
The work in progress is life–that simple, that encompassing. I've always used my creative and intellectual work as a tool for the exploration of being alive, and now I see that the tools I use in daily living and the experiences, perceptions, and changes that emerge from them are as much my work as are writing and performing.
The phrase "work in progress" feels beside the point and inaccurate because it conventionally designates creative work that results in a product, a final result, ready for the marketplace: selling for money, working towards recognition and fame. In the process of self-creation, the creator is the art, soul-and-mind-inseparable-from-body. Neither that entity nor its actions is a performance. That creator is real, whether I'm presenting ideas at a conference or talking with a street person who's just asked me for money. In those and all situations I am my aesthetic and erotic self-creation, and creating that soul-and-mind-inseparable-from-body is happening every moment.
Aesthetic and erotic self-creation comes about through self-care and self-study. Primary tools in my self-care and self-study include the following, which I list along with reasons for their appeal and some other particulars about my involvement in them.
Reading, reasoning, and analytical thinking.
Muscular strength and shape. I discontinued bodybuilding in 2008 and took it up again in 2014.
Asana, meditation, and studying ancient yogic texts. I began to practice and study yoga before I finished college.
Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy
Exploring with brilliant teachers the depth of myself. Both have been men. My psychoanalytic experience was from my late 20s into my early 30s. Psychotherapy began in 2001 and continues into the present.
Beauty, economy, and necessity are foundational pleasures for me. These days they spontaneously apply themselves in writing and performing as they do in eating, cooking, moving my body, connecting with people, choosing and arranging the material elements that create my home, buying and wearing clothes, picking a book, an aesthetician, acupuncturist, yoga studio, or travel destination, be it the Missouri Ozarks or Tamil Nadu.
Beauty is a cultivation of self and surroundings through feeling the subtleties of each.
Economy means attentive management rather than sparing use or scarcity.
Necessity ensures, to the best of my ability, that shoulds and have-tos dissolve before they lead to wasted energy, time, and words.
Writings and performances come about these days in unpredictable ways. They experiment with me–my patience, my habit-breaking happiness, my passion for the craft of writing, my intimate relationships, my research into bodily sensation and sutras, my reading books that inspire and change me, like the Odyssey, Beowulf, and Moby Dick, and the excitement of change, which is an opportunity for the benefits of transformation.
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