Photo of the Week: Lani Ka’ahumanu

Lani Ka’ahumanu is a bisexual and feminist writer and activist. She has done important work for many years. Lani was one of the women I photographed for Women En Large: Images of Fat Nudes. She wrote My Body is A Map of My Life for Women En Large and it accompanies her portrait in the book.
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My Body Is A Map Of My Life

I perform a ritual when I remove my clothes with someone, whether it’s to sunbathe, sauna, massage, or to make love.

I tell the stories of my scars.

Besides the pearly stretch marks that texture my arms, legs, breasts, and belly, that I acquired during my two pregnancies, there are scars: a long think pink one that follows my right rib line for 6 or 7 inches (from gall bladder surgery between the births of my son and daughter); a seam line from hip to hip and one around my belly button from surgery that removed three pounds of hanging skin; an appendicitis scar; and one-inch wide stretch marks—after I lost the 120 pounds seven years after I gained them.

MY BODY IS A MAP OF MY LIFE, A PATCHWORK QUILT THAT IS WARM AND SOFT AND STRONG.

I didn’t always appreciate my body. I used to be ashamed and embarrassed. I had a difficult time baring myself with or even without other people around. I would avoid looking at myself, really looking beyond the self-hate, beyond the media image that I should be, that I could be if only … there was no real sense other than I wasn’t good enough. I was constantly comparing myself … It was one of my closet characters, and the more I denied it, the more control it had over me. It was a drag. I wanted to be free of it, so I practiced. I practiced being nude alone, dancing, walking, sitting, laying, playing, looking in the mirror at every angle of myself.

It wasn’t easy, but as the months and years passed, I became more comfortable and accepting … you could even say I developed a nonchalant attitude when in the nude. I began to feel at home in my body and in this growing sense of well-being. SCAR WOMAN emerged from the closet.

All imperfections imposed, I claim the unique, distinctive markings,

making them perfect in the showing.

my body is a map of my life

It is a patchwork quilt

that is warm, and soft, and strong