The Tour I Didn’t Know I Joined

I’ve been wanting to write this for years to share my story, and maybe show some insight to certain people that chose to read in to my photos as something they are not. Woman Empowerment is the true story here, but sadly a lot of responses turn into harassment on many levels. As a single woman who does a lot of things on my own, I could blog for days about all types of harassment, from cat calls to assault, but that is for another day.

For now, I’ll share my story, and how I ended up participating in “The Topless Tour” without even knowing it.

I started something almost four years ago, not realizing it was a “thing” and never having seen anyone else doing it. The significance to me was very personal, and without thinking of the reaction it might cause, I started posting my personal journey on social media.

Up until this time, I had always been an independent person, but never truly been independent, if that makes any sense. I was capable of taking care of myself and enjoyed my alone time, but the majority of my decisions, actions, and plans revolved around whoever I was partnered with at the time.

The mountains have always been home to me, and through multiple relationships I wanted to get out in them more, but my partners were never as enthused as I was about it. After a long term relationship ended and I was living by myself for the first time ever, I decided to do what I wanted to do, regardless if I had someone to do it with. I started planning backpacking trips, many of which are referenced at the beginning of this blog.

One of the first trips was what inspired me to start taking these photos. It was my very first two-night trip since I was a teenager, and my first one ever alone. My pack was too heavy, I had way too much stuff with me, and it was hard, for me, at that time.

The first night I arrived early to my campsite by a lovely lake. I set up my tent, made dinner, and just relished in the sheer joy and pride I felt of getting myself to this place. I’d come so far, both figuratively and literally.

I love photography, and am no stranger to being my own model when I get inspired for a shoot. Sometimes I just “see” something, and want to create it, so I’ll pull out my camera and remote shutter and try my best to re-create my vision. Typically, as with most artists, my inspiration would always come from some pivotal moment in my life.

 

 

This was one of those moments. I was looking out over a lake from my campsite, listening to the complete silence, and there was this log near the water. I thought “Wouldn’t that make a beautiful photo? Woman in nature, just sitting quietly, looking over the lake. She is comfortable in her own skin, she is proud, and she is so thankful to be here…” So I propped my phone up on a rock, set the timer, and captured the photo.

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The next day was hard. Looking back, I laugh at how easy it should have been. But it wasn’t for me on that day. My pack was so heavy, and the trail up to the next lake was so steep. I remember literally taking a few steps and having to rest, a few steps more and another rest. I almost cried, I kept asking myself why the hell I was doing this.

And then I was there. I made it. It was, to date, the hardest thing I had physically done. But I got there without anyone’s help, I had supplied my own gear and food. I had planned the trip. I went through the permit process for my campsite. And then I did cry, because I realized all of this at once, and I was so proud. I found my campsite, set up my tent, and then I had my next vision to capture. I certainly wasn’t going to sit all calm and serene on a log this time. I was a happy, proud, independent woman and wanted to shout it out to the world!

So this time I stood in the lake and threw my arms in the air to celebrate. And as I took this photo, I wasn’t just celebrating this trip. I was celebrating my traverse in life. Celebrating having parents that put the love and respect for nature in my heart forever. Celebrating moving on from learning from mistakes. Celebrating walking away from abuse. Celebrating independence. Celebrating health. Celebrating LIFE.

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Since then I’ve had many more celebrations, traverses, and adventures. Whenever possible, I take this photo along the way. I posted one to a social media site one time, and among many other comments, one commented simply: #TheToplessTour. Low and behold, there is a worldwide movement celebrating everything I was, for all the same reasons. And here I thought I was all alone.

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So the next time you see a photo like this, strip away (no pun intended) everything society has conditioned us to see, and instead see the beauty for what it is. Strong, independent, empowered, and happy.

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#TheToplessTour #BeEmpowered #WomenWhoExplore #WonderfulWildWomen

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