Becoming Part Of "The Human Spectrum"

Becoming Part Of "The Human Spectrum"

Getting naked with strangers for art and acceptance
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On a cooler October afternoon, five others and myself made our acquaintances while wearing naught but our birthday suits and (eventually) a thick coating of (we hoped) non-toxic paint. The primary reason behind all of us gathering in this exceptionally vulnerable state? We all wanted to be part of something bold, something off the beaten path, and something we all thought might contribute to a greater self esteem and appreciation for our differences. That "something" was "The Human Spectrum."

What precisely is “The Human Spectrum” you might wonder? To put it concisely, the project is an artistic endeavor conceived by South-Florida based photographer Aaron Ansarov during which total strangers willingly (albeit not without some anxiety) eject themselves from their clothing, allow themselves to receive a generously colorful coating of tempera paint, and, last but not least, to be photographed while being posed while water sprays from behind. Yeah, that’s “The Human Spectrum” in a nutshell. However, Aaron’s mission is something far more whimsical and beneficent.

“When everyone is covered in vibrant colors, we can all be the same. The water represents commercial society’s need to wash this color away in order to catalog us again.”

This brief snippet from “The Human Spectrum” webpage indicates that Aaron’s purpose behind the project isn’t strictly about art, although the art is an important component. Following Aaron’s cross country gallivanting in pursuit of adding to the Spectrum, many of the photos will find their way in a gallery, but you also receive a high quality print of the photo you find most awesome.

Want to see my favorite shot Aaron captured of me? Of course you do! In fact, I'm in all of the photos featured, and my female companion is a new friend with whom I posed several times over.

Rather than the material photograph, the project’s most significant reward comes by way of the cathartic experience Aaron provokes, a prompting that focuses our internal lenses onto self esteem deficiencies that plague us. This reflecting pushes us to consider why we feel the way we do, to itemize the factors compelling us to feel this way, and it encourages us to see ourselves as the unique and special little snowflakes that we all are.

Getting naked was the easy part. Not to suggest my own innards weren’t doing cartwheels, and I even questioned my sanity a few times. No, naked was easy, in hindsight. Difficult was remaining silent and keeping my eyes closed for nearly 20 minutes as I was led to prevent the paint from getting into my eyes and mouth. The challenge was trusting others while I was led, positioned, photographed, posed with another person, and photographed some more, all the while remaining silent and not being able to communicate for fear of tasting the paint.

Tasting the paint was unavoidable, I suppose. Also, for days afterwards I sneezed vibrantly chromatic snot and removed equally colorful earwax with Q-tips. Surprised me that I didn’t expel colorful clouds of paint through regular body processes.

Memories surfacing, I remember encountering two participants just outside the privacy tent (where the artsy magic happens). One of the women offered wine to embolden us with liquid courage. The other immediately launched into tattoo complimenting as my clothing came off, and – in the excitement of tattoo discussion – I neglected to wrap up with my towel. In fact, the only time I felt self-conscious at being naked in front of others was in the immediate timeframe before I was actually naked in front of anyone.

Asked what inspired me to be part of “The Human Spectrum,” my response was something along the lines of “to be part of an adventure,” my voice no doubt adopting my best Bilbo Baggins impression. Adventure and body positivity advocacy were my most concise reasons for joining up. Others’ responses ranged from wanting to love their bodies and others interested in a new avenue of artistic expression. In one friend’s case, she didn’t originally know what she was getting into until the drive there: “my friend signed us up, and I trust her.”

Something that still resonates occurred after the event. Inviting us to his hotel for drinks, and to view the photos on a larger screen than his camera provides, Aaron interviewed each of us, encouraging us to share our motivations for participating as well as requesting to hear our stories of how we’ve been made to feel inferior. Stories were shared. Tears were shed. Words of comfort were provided via our host. Perspectives were changed.

Speaking very personally, for days following the event, I felt privileged to have witnessed so many beautiful people spill their emotions and reveal weaknesses. I felt the fly on the wall, an observer to someone’s private catharsis. I was an invited interloper, and were it not for embraces from everyone, as well as ongoing conversations from our group, I’d have believed that I didn’t belong. But I was there, and they’re emotions became mine. Even now, memories of the rawness of the event provoke the growth of a big lump in my throat.

Final thoughts? I loved it. I loved meeting such lovely people. If Aaron and “the Human Spectrum” come ‘round these parts again, I’d sign up with not even the slightest bit of trepidation. The sensory stimuli bombarding a covered, yet still naked, body was incredible. Not feeling any sense of shame or worry was a pleasant turn of events for someone who usually avoids mirrors. Making the acquaintances of such charming people was beyond exquisite. Ultimately, the good vibe I have from the entire experience bordered on that of a spiritual awakening.

Would I do it again? Resoundingly, emphatically and with gusto, yes! The real question isn’t “would” I do it again, but “when will” I do it again. Aaron is already plotting his 2017 “The Human Spectrum” tour, so I merely await word of any Michigan stops along his journey.

Do you want to know more? Just visit “The Human Spectrum” on Facebook, or search for it, along with the name Aaron Ansarov, via Google and decide if Aaron’s project is something in which you’re interested.


Cover Image Credit: Aaron Ansarov

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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After 'Extremely Wicked' And 'The Stranger Beside Me,' We Now Understand The Criminal Mind Of Ted Bundy

1 hour and 50 minutes, plus 550 pages later.

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Netflix recently released a movie in May called "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile" (2019), based on the life of Ted Bundy from his girlfriend's viewpoint.

In 1980, an author and former Seattle police officer, Ann Rule, published a book about her experience and personal, close friendship with Ted Bundy, called "The Stranger Beside Me."

These two sources together create an explosion of important information we either skim over or ignore about Ted Bundy. Watching this movie and reading this book can really open your eyes to who Ted Bundy really was. Yeah, there are the confession tapes on Netflix, too, but these other things can really tie it all into one big masterpiece of destruction.

I swear, it will blow your mind in different ways you never thought possible.

In the movie, "Extremely Wicked", Zac Efron stars as the infamous Ted Bundy, America's most notorious serial killer. He portrayed the murderer who kidnapped, killed, and raped 30 women or more. Personally, he made a great Ted Bundy, mannerisms and all. Lily Collins stars as Ted's girlfriend who was easily manipulated by Ted and believed that he was innocent for years.

The movie is told in the order that Liz, Ted's girlfriend, remembers.

In the book, "The Stranger Beside Me", Ann Rule writes about Ted Bundy, who used to be her old friend. They met while working at a crisis center in the state of Washington and were close ever since. Like Liz, Ann believed he was innocent and that he was incapable of these horrific crimes.

Ted Bundy had made both Liz and Ann fools. He easily manipulated and lied to both women about many things for years, his murders being "one" of them.

Okay, so we all know that Ted Bundy was absolutely guilty as hell and totally murdered those women. 30 women or more. He literally confessed to that, but researchers and authorities believe that number to be way higher.

But... you must know that the movie and the book tell two different stories that lead to the same ending. That's why it's so intriguing.

At one point, I couldn't stop watching the movie. Then, I bought Ann Rule's book and was completely attached to it. I couldn't put it down.

For me, Ted Bundy is interesting to me. Unlike most young girls today, I don't have a thing for him nor do I think he's cute or hot. I know that he used his charm and looks to lure women into his murderous trap. That's why it's so hard to understand why this movie and book created a new generation of women "falling in love" with Ted Bundy.

GROSS: He sodomized women with objects. He bludgeoned women with objects or his own hands. He was a necrophile. Look those up if you have not a clue of what they mean. That could change your mind about your own feelings for Ted Bundy.

After "Extremely Wicked" and "The Stranger Beside Me", I now understand the criminal mind of Ted Bundy. He was insane, but he was also smart, put together, educated, charming, and lots more. That's why I'm so interested in why his brain was the way it was.

The criminal mind is an interesting topic for me anyway, but for Ted Bundy, it was amazing to learn about.

I highly recommend both the movie and the book I quickly read in two weeks! If you want answers, they are there.

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