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The Bottom Line
Posted by Leon Hubert
30th Dec 2014

The wonderful Violet Fenn has shared a blog with us about her Bottom Line project, an amazing and thought-provoking idea.

If you're inspired to donate, or to send her a picture of your bum, her JustGiving link is below, and her gallery is in the body of the blog.

https://www.justgiving.com/bottom-line/

 

Bottoms are funny, aren’t they? Sort of squishy and round, even the tiny ones. Even the name - ‘bums’ - is funny. And yet they are at the bottom (yes, I just said that) of so much anxiety. Is it too big? Too small? Too wide, too narrow, too big, too small?

I have looked at a LOT of bottoms this week, after starting a fundraising campaign for Sane. It was quite literally a spur of the moment thing - a friend posted up a family photo on Facebook of a small child doing what kids do - standing butt naked on a kitchen chair playing at the sink. It was a lovely, funny photo, and another friend took it upon herself to recreate it. I was immediately intrigued by the reactions to the grown up version - most thought it was a brave and funny thing to do, but others were horrified that someone would get (semi) naked on Facebook.

Both sides of the argument interested me. The horrified ones were to be expected, I guess - the well documented dichotomy of social media in which it is acceptable to show ‘perfect’ bodies, but woe betide anyone who puts a normal one out there. The ‘brave’ comments were the most interesting - people in war zones are brave, for heaven’s sake, not people showing their arses for a comic moment. But yes, the original person WAS brave. We’re not supposed to be lumpy and bumpy are we? Yet here she was, a normal woman with a normal body, not being embarrassed about it. Shame on her, huh?

I have lived pretty much all my life in the company of G.A.D. - Generalised Anxiety Disorder. If it exists, I can worry about it. Sometimes I worry about not having enough to worry about. I have this imaginary friend called MAD - the Marshmallow of Anxious Doom, you can read about him here - who sits with me all the time, explaining just how terrible I am and how scary the world is around me.

My body is no exception to the anxiety rule - over the years I have considered it too big, too small, too lumpy, too bony, just too much. When another couple of friends reenacted the sink photograph, it occurred to me that - at the tender age of forty five - I had never seen my own backside, except for the occasional nervous craned-neck peer around into a changing room mirror. ‘This would make a good blog post’ I thought, and mentioned it to the bottoms involved, all of whom agreed to let me use their photos. Then more people said they’d do it and I thought maybe it should have a page of its own.

I set up a dedicated photo gallery on my website, Sex, Death, Rock 'n' Roll and invited people to send me their bums. It seemed logical to me to make people’s efforts worth something tangible - and what better cause than Sane, a charity that is forward thinking in its efforts to break down the stigmas that still sadly exist around mental issues of all kinds. 

The responses from those taking part have been absolutely fascinating. Pretty much every last one has said how liberating it was to bare their backside to the world. The one I’m most proud of is the person who donated without sending a photograph, citing severe body dysmorphia issues. I replied thanking her and making it clear that no one should feel pressurised into taking part. The next day, a photograph of her (very normal) bottom turned up, together with a covering message saying that thinking about the project had helped her confront her fears. 

By far the most common observation has been a surprised, ‘oh but they all look pretty much the same!’ and they do. They really, really do.

All bums are equal, and this past week I have seen them all - male and female, big and small. But they’re all just bums. And we are equal as humans - healthy, sick, fat, thin, mentally struggling, strong as an ox. Just human.

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