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Sunday, February 19, 2012

'Who is that fat, dimpled, wrinkly, broad-flanked person?' Woman who posed nude at 25 recreates photos two decades on

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:04 PM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Full frontal: The 25-year-old was shot for a gallery show by Hollywood headshot photographer Helmut Lipschitz who has since passed away

Shannon Bradley-Colleary was 25-years-old when she first posed nude for a photographic gallery show, but like so many women, saw only what she hated about her 125lb frame in the pictures.

More accepting of her body 20 years later the writer decided to strip off for the camera once more to celebrate the beauty of her body then and the transformation it had undergone over the years.

But when the now 46-year-old looked at the new photographs, she was horrified by the difference between the young model and the older 140lb version.

Naked ambition: Writer Shannon Bradley-Colleary who posed nude at 25 when she hated her body (left) and again at 46 when she had decided to embrace her natural physique, was horrified by the recent photographs

Describing her initial reaction in a piece for the Huffington Post, Mrs Bradley-Colleary wrote: 'Who is that fat, dimpled, wrinkly, broad-flanked person? That isn't me? That can't be me??!!' 

The shock took her by surprise. She confessed on her post: 'Secretly I thought the nudes would look good. I'd find the right photographer, he'd use excellent lighting, perhaps a fan or two, and off we'd go. 

'The photos would come back and all the muscle from my Pop Physique classes would emerge from beneath my layer of subcutaneous ... how shall I put it? ... fat.'

The writer who refers to herself as an 'aging vaintress, mom Butler,wife dominatrix' on her own website The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful, made the decision to get naked as part of a deeper self-exploration earlier this year. 

In January, unhappy with the weight she'd gained in recent years, the screenwriter had compared statistics and averages of women her age online to see if she really was as fat as she believed herself to be. 

After checking sites like AmIFat.com and the The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, she came to the conclusion that she was in fine fettle. 'Clearly I'm in a healthy weight range,' she blogged. 'So I've decided to do something radical. I'm not going to lose weight.'

Skin and bone: 20 years on, Mrs Bradley-Colleary looks back on those pictures as beautiful and hoped she would see the new pictures the same way 
Her discovery that she was in fact just below the average weight was a revelation. With a reinforced sense of self-confidence she decided to embrace her body and confront the fears that had distorted her perspective all her life. 

Digging out the original black and white images of the first shoot, taken by the late Helmut Lipschitz,  Mrs Bradley-Colleary recognised that she had quite clearly suffered from Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

At 25, she had believed her thighs needed liposuction, her breasts were too small and her bottom had cellulite. 

Looking at the stunning photographs in January, she wondered how could she possibly have been so unhappy with her petite frame and decided that any more time spent worrying about fat would be wasted.

'In 21 years from now I'll look back and think -- I looked great. Why did I worry so much about sucking in my soft round belly? It barely showed!'

The decision to pose nude again had been a brainwave, she thought. It would be a way of making peace with her paranoia about being fat and a sure ego boost.

But soon after arriving at the photographer's studio she became aware that time had taken its toll in ways she had never considered.

'I was squatting and bending over in a lot of those old photographs,' she wrote. 'When you have two children in your late 30s, you don't bend over or squat anymore. 

'An hour later -- my muscles spasming from attempting to get into poses I'd struck spontaneously all those years before -- we are done.'

Psyching herself up with mantras and affirmations about her hotness, Mrs Bradley-Colleary was dumbstruck on seeing the results, though not too much to blog about her indignation later.

Bathing beauty: Mrs Bradley-Colleary with her husband Henry who advised her to go to a professional if she was determined to pose naked again
'I see on the bright computer screen before me what appears to be the craven image of a 60-year old, cornfed woman who might've been an extra in "The Night Of The Living Dead. WTF????????!!!!' 

The author admitted it took her three days to recover from the trauma of seeing the new photographs despite the her friends' assurance that they were in fact beautiful.

Struggling to accept the ways in which her body has changed, Mrs Bradley-Colleary lamented: 'I'm in mourning for that effortlessly thin, fresh-skinned, bright-eyed young woman of yore. 

But I want to let her go and embrace my current incarnation.'

In spite of what she suspects may be a case of residual dysmorphia disorder, she posted the photographs, 'in the hopes that [her] journey will inform and perhaps brighten someone else's journey to accept the indignities of this mortal coil.'

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