• Free The Nipple with Katie D

    Free The Nipple, is a naked or sensual photography series facilitated by Mia Muse. An interview about the experience and sexuality in general is conducted with the participant to accompany the photography. This is what you are reading. With so much love, enjoy. 

    I wasn’t surprised that my good friend, artist and fellow wild woman, Katie was up for a naked photo-shoot with talented photographer Georgia Smedley, as Katie is one of my pals, I associate with being comfortable naked. Go babe! I can’t assume Katie’s path to get to this point in her life but I sure know mine. Being comfortable naked in front of others in our country is a taboo and celebrating your own form and being empowered to explore this through photography in a natural setting with other women and having the choice to express this and share this is worth celebrating! 

    Katie is an amazing artist and witch; yes she reads the best looking Tarot deck I’ve seen thus far. This woman and her commitment to pursuing her art with courage and conviction inspire me daily.

    Let’s have a chat to Katie about her experience getting nude for the camera and her thoughts on sexuality in general.

    Why did you decide having a naked photo-shoot was something you wanted to do?

    I wanted to do it this time because I was full in my love for myself. I had also done a naked photo-shoot about 18 months prior (with Georgia again) and when I got the photos back I couldn't look at my face in them. I had a rough breakup a couple months prior to that first shoot and I think for me it's blistering - the pain and sharp that's etched in my face. I wasn't nourishing or taking care of myself either and the difference between the two photo shoots is compelling to me. But having said that, there are a couple of photos from the first shoot where I just look like some guardian of the cross roads you wouldn't want to fuck with which I really enjoy.

    How did you find the experience of being photographed naked?

    Georgia and I have built a rapport - having met online and just bonding really easily through a life and relationships - so being photographed by her is always really easy. She makes me feel safe. I don't have to worry about my image with her. For myself, I guess as an artist who did life drawing and who in my early days did a lot of self referential work I find being nude in an artistic environment really easy. I sometimes wonder if it's more easy to feel good naked than in your clothes, like if you're having a bad head/feeling day and you feel self conscious about how your body looks in clothes.

    I think being naked publicly in an image that you've sanctioned is a way of reclaiming your image. I love sending photos of myself to lovers because I'm deciding what they receive of me, they're not dictating how I should appear, I'm dictating how I appear. I'm not sure it quite escapes the history of the male gaze (or indeed whether that's possible), but it's better than being consumable the way I was walking along minding my own business when I was 14. I also just enjoy enjoying my body as a beautiful image. I'm never going to be this young again, I want to have a memento of my body as it was like this when I'm a little old lady with spindly hair, thin, speckled skin and saggy everything. 

    If you decided to share the images, what has the response been like?

    Really favourable. No negativity at all. I had one photo removed from Instagram twice and none of the others. I think it may have been due to the tiny pale pink flowers I emoji-d over my nipples because I didn't want to break the palette of the photo itself and because why the fuck are my nipples obscene?

    I did stop sharing them though because I wanted my account to be about my art and if it's my life that I not be so, I don't know - I keep thinking about the difference between a male artist using his body and a woman artist using her body and controlling her image and wondering if I can escape that patriarchal set up just yet even though women are working to tear it down daily. How to articulate my position and navigate it in a way I feel strongly and congruently to be mine. Also as my work is more related to the landscape, memory, love, grief, loss, desire it doesn't really fit for me at the moment. I may change my mind about that though. None of us are infallible.

    What’s your favourite photograph and why?

    There's two that are myself laying in the same pose but the cropping is slightly different and one of them is just...mwah! For me it resonates on all these levels, classically the cropping is golden, the colours are all pastel and sorbet which I LOVE and for me it's one I'd get a print of à la Samantha Jones in 'Sex and the City.' I feel like it is the most me of all the photos if that makes sense. It's my comfortable me, just hanging out naked. It's the most intimate and mysterious.

    Do you think there is a connection between your sexuality and creativity?

    I would say probably yes definitely. I feel like there's definitely a connection between my creativity and my biological gender and my gender expression. Everything flows into everything else in my life. My colour palette for example cannot be escaped no matter how hard I try. And honestly I don't. I think it's great, it makes me feel congruent. I always want to be understood. I'd love to do a series of drawings or works around erotica. I loved drawing the biological drawings for your workshop, it was quite meditative. Most art making for me is active meditation, it's also problem solving. It removes the static from my mind. Being that I have a mind that likes to perform all manner of anxiety driven escapades and can imagine just about every scenario ever...that's a lot of static. People have said that I'm not me if I'm not creating. If I'm not me and I'm not feeling grounded in my body and if I'm nourishing myself in all my facets than I'm usually not creating work either.

    How does your mood affect your sexuality?

    I always know it's a bad sign if I reject my body sexually. Like I must be having a bad time for that to happen. And if I'm feeling good about life, myself, etc all of a sudden everything is ripe of sensuality and some kind of delicious meet cute.

    When do you feel most sexy?

    I've recently discovered the private joy of being drunk at home in your bedroom dancing naked in the mirror and just thinking you're the hottest thing out. But when I'm high vibe and I've hit my stride I think I feel very confident and potentially sexy as well. I'm a flirtatious person by nature, I'm just very cheeky and I like to connect with people so that will be flowing strong and if that's hitting all the right points and everything is easy between me and others than I feel in my best skin. And that to me is sexy. 

    What does sexuality mean to you?

    Being honest with yourself and your partner if you have one or many. Being free in yourself and want you want... and I understand that can be easier said than done for many of us for whatever reason, but I just don't want to live being sexually unfulfilled. I love expressing my sexual self with someone. I love approaching each sexual encounter as this little parenthesis captured moment (hopefully in such a way that it feels out of time) and because of that I don't really do casual sex. I find it difficult to boundary my physical self from my emotional body. Which doesn't necessarily mean love, but affection and respect is paramount. I guess the best sexual encounters for me are where you feel nourished afterwards by the person even if you've had amazing raw, "seriously, did we do this in the mud in a past life?" sex with someone. They take care of my vulnerable self as much as I do, and as much as I try to do with their vulnerable self. It means fun. You've got to have fun with your body and your sex and your self.

    I think it's still probably very difficult to navigate being confident in your sexuality and your desires in society. And when I say that I speak from the perspective of being white, cis gendered and heterosexual. I can only imagine the difficulties for others whose sexual expression doesn't fit into the narrow confines of patriarchal society. 

    Have you had any breakthrough moments regarding your sexuality?

    ...I've become much more confident as I've gotten older that's for sure. I was once so isolated from my body and my sexual self and the more I turned that around, the more grounded I became in my body the better everything became, for my sexual self, for my confidence... definitely achieving a strong baseline of self love after wandering in the desert for 20 years really helped matters. I can't express that strongly enough. My whole Saturn Return was about self-love.

    I feel I'm more confident now about expressing what I want and what turns me on but even now sometimes I forget that I am able to express when something a partner is doing isn't working for me. Like, how do I say: "don't grab my body roughly from the get go, don't you know you have to knead me gently, let me rise (as if I were dough!) and get warm before you're strong with me"?

    Some partners don't hear what I say at any rate, and they're the ones I don't continue to see. Maybe what they think they're doing is good sex but it's completely generic. They haven't paid an ounce of attention to my articulations or responses.

    Never keep a lover who doesn't pay attention to how you move your body.

    One about sex you wish they taught you in school?

    I wish they taught us about the cis-gender genitalia at high school--at the very least! I had no idea what the clitoris looked like until your workshop. I wish they taught more about how to take ownership of your body and your pleasure. Not put it in the hands of others. Not to be ashamed for wanting or needing sexual intimacy! And as well as these things I wish they taught us as a whole to be respectful of people's identity expression and sexual expression outside of the narrow heteronormative cis-gendered expression. To my understanding, feeling alignment in one's body in terms of who one is and how one expresses it, to not be judged by others for it, or for who one desires is deeply important. To be accepted, to feel accepted is deeply important. Lessons of respect and social awareness could do a lot more for us when we're going through one of the most difficult and confusing times of our lives aka puberty and high school. And to stand us in good stead later in life.

    Describe sex in one word?
    I don't think there is one word. I like calling it "the road to awe" sometimes. But I mean, maybe that also applies to love.

    Let me think about this.

    If sex or sexuality was a song, what song would it be?
    There's too many for me. It changes each relationship or interaction. I told I lover recently I was going play Kelela's Hallucinogen EP on repeat next time he's in the country and we hang out.

    Any tips on harnessing your sexuality?

    This was perhaps the hardest question to answer. And I'm trying to think about how I felt I started connecting to my sexuality & really taking ownership of it. And it was a process that took years. What really turned it around for me was self love. When i began to love myself and decided to be on my team then i stopped being apologetic or neglectful of my body and what I need or want from sex and intimacy. I still haven't figured it out and I think our connections to our sexuality probably go in waves but when I'm nourishing myself and my creativity I can connect to my body more, and alone or with another experience greater heights and reward. It was a long time ago but I think the first step was to stop talking shit about myself. I stopped negative self-talk a long time ago (still not early enough) and it has made all the difference.

    What do you think we need more of in the world?

    Connection, connection, connection. People talk up empathy a lot and yes I think it's a very compelling feature of humans that we are capable of this, and that it is a beautiful thing...but to stand in sympathy with someone else who's hardships you have experienced nothing of and maybe do not understand outside of them expressing their pain, and still see their pain as valid and offer assistance is probably something we need more of. It means I don't take ownership of your problems for you but I offer sympathy in the traditional sense of a support, physical aid, care, my time, my company, any problem solving you want, an ear, guidance, ie to act as a supportive structure for you to express yourself within. For you to feel valid within.

    I always think we who experience privilege need to shut our mouths and listen more than anything else. That is also true.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    Can I come back to this one? Let's do another round of questions in a few moons. I'll be a whole other person. :)

    Katie also wanted to add...

    The best lovers for me are the ones who are able to give head effectively, but whom also make you feel they enjoy it. I like sleeping with men who can demonstrate they are familiar with the clit. Fucking is all very well (and great! And so so important) but I don't want to be with someone for the rest of my life who can't give good oral sex.

    Yeah GRRL. Love you thank you for vulnerability and honesty.

    - <3 MM x 


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