(Originally Posted on the body joy project blog)
Desiree showed up ready to jump in. I knew she would, but it’s always a nice surprise when someone is as excited about something as you are. Her husband, Reidar took their 17-month-old son Fox for a walk. The next time they would see her, she’d be covered in paint. We were all curious how Fox would react. Des kissed them both goodbye and turned to me. “Should I just get naked?” she asked, pulling off her shirt. Like I said, she was ready.
My dad photographed this session, our first collaboration for the Body Joy Project, but one of thousands of collaborations we’ve done throughout my life. I guess for me there’s no separation between hanging out with my dad and creating with my dad.
Des and I laughed and talked the whole time I painted her. We got caught up on each other’s lives. We’ve been friends since we were 15, but have each traveled, grown, and gone our own ways. We talked about friends who we no longer see, our families, our art, and our bodies.
I asked Desiree to tell me about what it’s like to be her, in her body. In her words:
My relationship with my body like everyone else’s is a complex one. It has changed so much over the years. I love my body. I love it even more now that I am a mother. Now that I have baby Fox I look at my body in a totally different way. I am amazed by all of its natural functions… the nurturing and feeding of another human being from ones own body is a trip!!!!
Not to say I don’t have those moments where I forget everything I have accomplished in this last year, look in the mirror and go eeeeewwwwwww!
I may not always like the way my body looks right now, but I respect it and love it for everything that it is and does for my family and myself.
Painting Desiree was an incredible way for me to reconnect with an old friend and get to see her now, in a new way. I loved it and am in awe of the beautiful photos my dad took.
Here is Desiree’s response to the experience of being painted:
Being painted by you was very grounding; I was so excited that I didn’t even think about the intimacy until I was there. Then I had a moment of wow!!! You were so gentle and sweet, your ability to be so close; to see every detail of me and not have an ounce of judgment in your being is so special. You made me feel beautiful, you made me look beautiful and I am so grateful!!!
I had just finished painting Des when we heard a knock at the door and it slowly opened. Here is Desiree looking at Reidar and Fox:
And here they are looking at her:
All these awesome photos taken by James Dean
Body painting by Charlotte Dean
Check out Desiree’s gorgeous line of bags and baby bloomers here.