“This Body of Work is a project, but I also think of it as a space, or a place. It’s an oasis I came to after wandering in a desert for many years, only surviving. I was deeply thirsty and hungry, and here I found nourishment that changed my life. This is a metaphor, of course. My hunger and thirst were emotional, mental, spiritual. But my own crooked path through the desert, and my knowledge that others are still lost out there, is what fuels this work for me.
May this project be a place for you to fall in love with yourself. May it be an oasis of holy tenderness for the love and perfection that you are in the world. May it be a space for you to take your own hand and lead yourself through the gates of love.”
– Jen Hecht, This Body of Work Project Founder
You Have an Amazing Body.
You may not believe this, but once you know how, you can fall in love with your body. That body, right there. The one you’re in this very moment, breathing, pulsing warm, reading this website. Exactly the way it is. That body, the one with its beautiful heart beating always, never stopping to ask first, shall I? but simply drumming on, constantly gifting you with every moment of your life.
Your body. Your one and only ticket to the ride of life.
This Body of Work is a space for you to see that your body is remarkable, miraculous, irreplaceable, and infinitely gorgeous. It’s a place for you to find a new love for your own physicality. Because whether or not you experience being beautiful in life is up to you. So come. Be the one you have been waiting for.
This Body of Work takes the shape of a private virtual workshop that blends writing, ceremony, and photography. You are invited to explore your own body narrative, and experiment with creating a new one. The intention of the project is for each person involved with the project to experience an inspiring and profound shift in her relationship with her own body.
There are three stages to the project:
The Body Love Workbook is the basis for the written part of the project. There is a $10 optional fee for the Workbook, which helps cover the costs of running the project. This fee may be waived if finances are a barrier to your participation in the project (just ask your photographer). You can download the Workbook here.
The Workbook is designed to draw out, express, and unload all the negative narratives you may hold–all the internal clatter that jangles through your life and causes dissonance, unrest, or pain. Then, you’ll embark on a guided experiment with creating a new narrative– one that you love. This portion of the work will be 100% private. (Exception: if you feel inspired to create and voluntarily share poems, essays, or parts of your journal with your photographer or the website, that is welcomed, however you will never be asked to show your work.)
You are encouraged to devote at least two hours to the writing process, more if you can. In a perfect world you would find yourself in a retreat setting, able to fully steep in the questions and answers of your heart along the way. If you are able to carve out a whole morning or evening for this work, that may deepen your experience. If you find that you get to the heart of things better by talking things through with an intimate friend or partner, that is encouraged. But if life doesn’t lend itself easily to doing those things, trust that you will do the work you need to do, and that it will be perfect and enough.
You will also receive a link to a simple web-based questionnaire, which you will need to complete prior to your portrait session. The questionnaire will ask, in essence, what was your story before, and what is your new story. Your answers to the questionnaire will be shared with your photographer and will also published on the website alongside a trio of photographs from your photo session.
Once your written work feels done, you may make a ceremonial gesture of your own design to celebrate and confirm the shift from old story to new.
In our culture, we tend to ignore the power that ceremony can have, so many of us get a bit lost here. Your ritual may look like taking your writing about your heavy old narrative and burning it, or tearing it up into pieces, or throwing it into the ocean. You might light candles and meditate on the beginning of a new relationship with your body. You might create a piece of art inspired by your relief, or your joy, or your gratitude for your body. You might open a bottle of bubbly, or take yourself out for dinner to celebrate. You might belt out a power anthem in the car after dropping the kids off at school. It’s entirely up to you.
What’s important is that you’re making a gesture: out with the old, and in with the new. Don’t overlook the power of ritual in this work. What you’re looking for through this whole project may arise and be revealed in that moment.
3. A Portrait
The final act of the project will be a portrait session. Your photographer is giving you the gift of her work and her seeing because she wants you to see how beautiful you are. She wants to celebrate you with photographs. Each photographer on the project has been carefully chosen because of her unique ability to draw out the innate essence of her subjects, capturing the unique, imperfectly perfect beauty of humanity through her lens.
Your photographer will ask you complete a model release form at the time of your session. This will allow her to photograph you for the project and share three photos as part of This Body of Work. She will have also read your questionnaire prior to your session so she can understand your journey.
The details of your portrait session will be determined by your photographer. Your portrait session will be a gift, and your photographer will provide you with information on how to purchase prints or digital images.
The goal is for all portrait sessions to be complete and photos submitted by April 1, 2016. Extensions may be granted on an individual basis.
If you feel stuck at any point, whether it’s with your own process with the narratives, or a question about the workbook, or a dilemma about ceremony, or anything else project-related, you are warmly invited to contact Jen Hecht for coaching or support via phone or email. You can reach her by sending a note below.
Please note that the project’s definition of the word woman is inclusive of both transgender and cisgender women.
It would be negligent for us to embark on this project without acknowledging that body issues can be delicate terrain for many women to explore. The purpose of this project is healing, self-discovery, and joy. If you feel at any time as though you are triggered, unsafe, or that your mental, emotional, psychological or physical health is or could be jeopardized by your participation in the project, we strongly encourage you to seek the support of a trained professional.