Women Only Festival –clothes optional.
August always makes me think of the Michigan Women’s Music Festival
It’s an annual gathering of thousands of women, in a “women only” space. I attended for four years in the late 90s, and it was one of the most nurturing things I’ve ever done for myself. The event is about the music and the incredible cooperation, but mostly it’s about women loving and accepting one another.
The culture at the festival is clothes optional and it’s one of the things that first timers like I was can’t help but spend the first few hours nervously giggling about.
Let me preface the rest of my comments by letting you know that I am not a lesbian, or a nudist (and never will be) and only about half of the festival audience ends up taking off some or all of their clothing (depending on the weather).
It was hot that first day. After I stopped tittering like a kindergartner, I observed every body size and shape, every color and pattern of body hair, and scars that ranged from delicate to brutal, I started to get it.
I will never forget the site of the brave survivor of breast cancer who bared her chest and walked unapologetically through the crowd. I was struck with the insight that we cover up and we are embarrassed about our bodies as though we did something wrong. As though that mole or that high butt was some how caused by a deficiency in character or lack of discipline. That breast cancer survivor didn’t do anything wrong, so why should she be ashamed.
So, how can I justify being obsessed with my paunchy belly and surgery scar? I didn’t do anything wrong either.
By the end of the six day festival, I was standing in line to get my chest painted, along with several hundred other women and I felt proud of my body. It’s an interesting piece of equipment, full of hereditary nuances and battle scars acquired along the way. It takes me where I need to go and it gives me pleasure. It’s a good body and I’m glad to have it. Appreciating my body is part of loving myself.
And women’s bodies, in all their variations, are no doubt beautiful.