See How 100 Naked Women Kicked Off the RNC With a Powerful Protest Message

rnc nude protestAfter months of being on the receiving end of abusive and derogatory rhetoric from Donald Trump (and far too many others in the Republican party), women are using the Republican National Convention as an opportunity to peacefully protest the people and policies that are hurting them. One of the most stunning examples: The "Everything She Says Means Everything" project, which saw 100 women posing nude in Cleveland on July 17 to send a message to misogynistic politicians.

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Spencer Tunick, an installation artist known for using the human body to explore "social, political and legal issues surrounding art in the public sphere," put out a call for volunteers back in May with just one requirement -- that all participants be women, whether Republican, Democrat, or otherwise. All of the women posing were given round mirrors to hold, which, Tunick explained in a statement, were meant to "communicate that we are a reflection of ourselves, each other, and of the world that surrounds us. The woman becomes the future and the future becomes the woman."

Part of the statement reads:

The philosophy of the artwork relates to the idea of the sacred feminine. By holding mirrors, we hope to suggest that women are a reflection and embodiment of nature, the sun, the sky and the land. We want to express the belief that we will rely upon the strength, intuition and wisdom of progressive and enlightened women to find our place in nature and to regain the balance within it.

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Public nudity in Ohio is illegal, so women had bed linens to cover up with just in case police arrived, but that never became an issue (though Tunick told Esquire that he actually hoped police would "participate," as they have in some of his past projects).

As participant Deanna Bergdorf described the process in a (highly inspirational) Facebook post:

We exchanged our clothes for mirrors and took our places in a loosely assembled formation on the lawn. In what was essentially an instantaneous shift, I went from feeling quite nervous about being undressed in public to not caring about it at all. I stood there feeling curious about how quickly nature takes over. Was this my natural self shining through and being completely comfortable in nothing more than my own skin? There must have been some force of nature in effect because just moments prior, my recent weight gain of about 25 pounds (brought on by moving from Hawai'i to Ohio. Thanks Ohio.) had me cringing at the prospect of baring my newfound fleshiness in public. Yet there I was, totally unbothered by my lack of clothing.

More significantly, I was struck by the sameness of all the different bodies. All kinds of shapes and sizes were present. We were old and young; we were mahogany and golden, pale and bronze and freckled. Some of us were sleek and lean and "unblemished" by pregnancy and childbirth and years of breastfeeding. Others held decades' worth of stories in their wrinkles and creases and folds. But, the most interesting affect of this collection of difference was (to me) its overwhelming sameness. I had to look closely to even notice who was fit and who was "fluffy" because that kind of detail, or maybe categorization, became little more than background noise.

What a profound and much-needed example of a universal truth Donald Trump and his supporters have tried so hard to deny: that we are all, fundamentally, the same. And the photos speak volumes:

rnc nudity

rnc nudity

rnc nudity

rnc nudity

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The bravery and strength displayed by these women is impossible to ignore -- as are the voices of so many women who are fed up with the current state of politics. Also making its presence known at the RNC this week was the women-led anti-war grassroots organization Code Pink, whose members waved banners (pink, of course) during speeches emblazoned with anti-Trump messages. All of these protests and movements are proof of a palpable shift in this country, one motivated by the fact that women are tired of being marginalized and degraded by elected officials who don't recognize the valuable contributions they make to society. Women are tired of seeing their children hurt and even killed by the people appointed to protect them. Women are tired of seeing their communities destroyed by senseless violence. 

Change starts with individuals, but those individuals need to come together to make change happen on a larger scale, and that's exactly what's happening now. It might not happen overnight, and it might not happen as soon as we'd like, but sooner or later, it will happen.

 

Images via TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

 

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