Kathie Brooke was insecure about her body. So she got naked and on a horse.

A legend, dating back to the 13th century, tells of a woman who supposedly rode naked – covered only in her long blonde hair – through the streets of Coventry, to protest against the oppressive taxation her own husband had imposed on his tenants. She became known as Lady Godiva.

Kathie as Lady Godiva. Image via Daniel Brauer Photography.

I chose the Lady Godiva theme to gain a remission from the oppressive and destructive beliefs that the female form is not magnificent in its reality. I am 165cm tall. According to my new Kmart underwear, I am a size 12 and the last time I dared step onto a set of scales, it read 60kg.

The boobs I bought in Thailand back in 2013 to fill the socks that flapped on my chest while I was on my hands and knees and the blonde hair I bought from Big Wig, especially for the Godiva theme and to cover my nipples. Because, heaven forbid I expose my nipples.

For most of my life I have been a petite size 8. I did reach a size 14 after the birth of Lola in 2003 and was so miserable I chewed on Fat Blasters for 4 months to disappear back to a size 8. At the beginning of 2015, I broke my ankle and was unable to exercise for 9 months. Again, I ate my way out of my size 8’s and for a long time battled with the way my body looked.

Originally, the Lady Godiva shoot was discussed at a time when I was lean and firm. In my head, that was how I was supposed to look. I had been brainwashed from a very young age, to believe that ‘big’ was not beautiful. If anything, ‘big’ is not healthy. I don’t consider myself ‘big’ and at the same time, I do not conform to what society has deigned to be beautiful. I have a pot belly, rolls and cellulite, which I lovingly refer to as ‘hailstone damage’.

Lady Godiva photoshoot
"I am exposing my perfect imperfections and celebrating my body for what it is". Image via Daniel Brauer Photography.

Toward the end of 2015, I struggled with not being lean and firm. I was repelled by my own body because I had bought into the body image bullshit I was exposed to. What was most horrific was that I rebelled against my own body, this amazing body that has carried me through 43 years on the planet, given birth and experienced both excruciating pain and intense pleasure. I felt ashamed of my pot belly, my rolls and the hailstone damage.

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I am back exercising regularly, eating sensibly (admittedly with more than the occasional indulgence) and my body does what I ask of it. I thought I was becoming more comfortable with my body, then I saw the Lady Godiva photos and went straight back into judgement mode. I criticised my pot belly, cringed at the cellulite and sat up straighter in an attempt to eliminate the rolls. What The Fuck! Back to square one.

So, to be the change I choose to see in the world, I am exposing my perfect imperfections and celebrating my body for what it is. Thank you for joining me on my journey.

Sincerely with a smile,