When I Posed Shirtless
By Bailey C.
My wet t-shirt clung to my body, my rainbow swim trunks dripping salty sea water down my legs. My heart was pounding.
“AS MY FRIEND GOT HER CAMERA READY, THE WHAT-IFS CRAWLED INTO MY MIND AGAIN- WHAT IF SOMEONE SAW?”
At last, we found a spot. It was a pathway from the beach to the parking lot, slightly out of view. As my friend got her camera ready, the what-ifs crawled into my mind again- what if someone saw? What would their reaction to a man with boobs be? Would they say something or just turn and pretend as though it wasn’t there? Would they say degrading things, or even become violent?
I draped the towel over my shoulders, and we began the photo shoot. A few poses made with my shirt on, before cautiously reaching for the hem of my shirt.
The what-ifs continued; what if a lifeguard or worse, a police officer came by? We could get into huge trouble for “indecent exposure,” right?
The next thing I knew, my shirt was gone. The towel sat on my shoulders, and after a few more snapshots, I pushed the towel away. There they were- deflated, hairy, and causing dysphoria almost daily. I’m talking, obviously, about my breasts.
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT PUT THE THOUGHT IN MY HEAD TO DO THIS, BUT AS I STOOD THERE, ARMS SPREAD OUT, CHEST IN FULL VIEW, I FELT FREE.”
I don’t know what put the thought in my head to do this, but as I stood there, arms spread out, chest in full view, I felt free. For a few moments, the dysphoria, the life long struggle, the hate of the world, and of course, the fears of being caught seemed as though they never existed in the first place. It was only me having a good time with an impromptu photo shoot on the beach with three friends and my (would-later-be) fiancé. When I was satisfied with the amount of photos, one of my friends, a trans woman, decided to take a turn in front of the camera. She was less shy than I was, and soon pulled down her bathing suit top to reveal her budding breasts. As I watched her pose, I thought about how weird it is for us both- she’s growing what I am to be rid of one day. We have even joked about “trading parts” on a few occasions. Nevertheless, both struggle with our bodies, yet here we were, baring half of it for a camera.
Modesty empowers some. Nudity empowers others. I guess I’m part of the latter of the two. As my top surgery nears, I find myself more and more open with myself, and less and less shy about my naked body- a feeling I never thought would come. It all began with that day on the beach.
My body isn’t perfect. It will never be completely what I want or feel I should have, but as long as I can love myself no matter where I am, even if just for a few minutes, that’s good enough for me!