Until my adolescence I had a joyful and loving relationship with my body. Our collaboration was almost flawless throughout my childhood. I was gullible enough to take my mother’s word for granted when she said to me, “You are beautiful, my son.” Thanks to her.
I was not an athletic kid. But my parents registered me for all the sports clubs in our region, nevertheless, I loved my body too much to see it battered and compared to others.
Until my teenage years, I had long hair, my facial features were thin, and my body had its curves. In most cases, the people who first met me thought I was a girl. I have countless anecdotes on the subject, from the funniest to the most unpleasant. But, truth is, I was proud to be mistaken for a girl.
I was raised by a strong woman with communist and feminist values. I am her first son, she had two others. Often she joked, “Girls are more beautiful and smarter than boys”. As a child, I took it literally, so when the other children made fun of me, I actually felt proud.
Then comes adolescence, that ungrateful moment in life when, if you were lucky like me to have a mother who loves you, you began to unjustly doubt her hitherto sacred words. And the image that society reflects of you ultimately counts more than that the one of the people you love.
A meeting came to change my life, quite by chance I discovered contemporary dance. During my high school years, I followed friends from dance class, and without even realizing it, I was already dancing and laughing. More than a revelation, this experience seemed obvious to me. It was the first time that I had the feeling of being myself without even searching for it. This is the kind of experience that defines your existence.
I like to talk, I talk a lot. With dance, I gained the experience of expressing myself without the spoken language. Speaking without speaking ! Like magic ! I had in my possession a new tool, way more powerful to me than my voice because it makes it possible to express things that the language can’t. Dance offers this fascinating transgression.
Dance allowed me to reconcile with my body which I no longer identified with, to reconcile with this body from which I began to lose interest. Suddenly the body that I am is no longer just mine, I shared it, with my art, with my choreography. And thanks to that I was then able to face it, to look at it again with love.
Even today I continue to cherish this relationship with my body in my artistic practices, and each time I create, I make sure that it stimulates the experience of my pleasure and my freedom. This is the essence of what I want to give to dance, to share, even if only the illusion of what dancing gives me. Be free, have fun, your body must be your ally, love it, do not allow anyone else than yourself to accomplish this task.
I continue day by day to discover this stranger which is my body. And even if we are not always in agreement, this meeting is always a renewal, naive, beautiful and without prejudice.
There is a fascinating paradox that I invite you to experience at home. Start dancing in your bedroom without prying eyes to distract yourself, then practice stretching the tickle-sensitive parts of your body, as if you were offering invisible spectators the view of these areas that we usually hide by reflex: your armpits, the inside of the legs, your neck, an area that you’re ashamed of etc.
If you focus well, on one of the possible conclusions of this exercise is that the more you expose your «sensitive» parts, the more you will cultivate a feeling of strength, of power. The more we expose our vulnerabilities, the more our nature gives us confidence in ourselves.
It’s fun, isn’t it?
I immediately convinced Chris that the shoot be done outside, I wanted this magic to happen, by rubbing myself on this nature, I wanted to live the illusion of integrating it, to find it again. Become wildlife. Naked in nature, exposed, offered, certainly to the lens but first to the caress of the air, to the rubbing of the leaves, to the claws of the branches… How many times in our urban lives do we experience these millennial sensations? I do not think that we lose much to avoid them, but I am convinced that we gain to live them.
This situation of body to body with nature, makes us realize that our body has things to express other than the flow of brain thought to which we are accustomed. There are ephemeral moments when the body becomes something other than the channel of the expression of our mind. It regains its original status, and it is clear that we do not know our body, we can only approach it as a stranger whose language we do not know. And given how foreigners are treated in our society, I understand that many do not look at their own bodies that way.
No jewelry, no piercing, no tattoo, no scar, no haircut, no hair removal, I am a raw product, authentic, without any apparent identity attribute. And yet… Even in the Jude I continue to be clothed, and I will not cease to be clothed until my death. I’m never totally naked in my eyes.
I have a double Moroccan and French culture, I have as a first name one of the names of the prophet and my parents ordered my circumcision young enough that I carry no memory of it, just the brand.
This is my reality, even when I am naked in front of the mirror, this scarification always comes to remind me where I come from, what story comes on my body, what identity my sex declares. Even before I had the shadow of an idea about the world, even before I had the desire to express something, my sex spoke, it said, “you come from there.” And to be honest, I’m at peace with that.
My body is a cultural testimony before being a natural offering. This is one of the reasons why I have not yet decided to mark myself, I no longer want my skin to be a field of expression. I love stories, and my body has its own, which is in close relation with the ones of my mind. I don’t want it to take more than its own. Writing these words, I tell myself that I can’t wait to see my wrinkles!
I will always remember my thoughts the first time I ever saw the foreskin of another boy when I was a kid. I told myself: « that guy is not normal ».
All of my sexual partners had comments to share about my penis and the Islamic symbol which is its allegation.
It’s a weird sensation to learn late in life that the body you live with was modified. I made that fact a second nature. If it’s not my perception, it will be somebody else’s that will always remind me: “It’s you the abnormal one”
My approach of sex is what I would call experimental. I like it to be a field for testing. A kind of survey about my own body, scales of expression of my physical pleasure. Sex is an opportunity to hit our own limits, but also one to see that of others. And my goal is to tame those limits. With them, I not only acknowledge myself, but I can acknowledge the other with his. Being pro-active, I always seek to surpass them. However, I don’t see those limits as challenges to score over myself or another. I have a playful relationship to sex and a challenge would make it too serious for my tastes. I would’ve liked if somebody told me as a child that sex was fun. It took some practice to understand that.
Sex is about doing but also about being. If I interpret sex as the movements of love – its performance if I may, it’s because it’s the simplest way to express love and to celebrate it. The love for the other, but the love of ourselves even more. This way of grasping sex gives a new paradox: does love offers an encounter, or an encounter offers love ?
Having no sexual activity until the age of 23, I first assumed I was asexual. My discrete interest for the subject, the absence of determination added to my shyness was not helping the cause. I had desire for so many things, I was so enthusiastic inside but it remained impossible to express that for a long time. My path for the physical expression of love was very chaotic and I still am at the beginning.
I like sex by myself, I like to share sex with someone else’s body, in either case, I nurture the sensation of touching a stranger. I like all bodies, all bodies inspire me, I have desire for them. To find the confidence in me and my body was a complicated issue that I’m almost done with. Now, I mainly focus on finding the ways to make them trust each other.