BARE IT ALL: FEARLESS
I recently walked in on my wife and daughter watching an episode of “Naked and Afraid” on the Discovery Channel, and of course, because you can’t just pass through the living room without stopping and noticing the beauty of mother nature with two naked humans and their pixelated body parts trying to survive 21 days in wilderness, I sat and stared at the boob tube (pun intended) with them.
My wife mentioned that the 10th season of “Naked and Afraid” started the next day and that an Indianapolis area woman was a survivor in one of the new episodes. After a quick Google search, and Facebook and Instagram profile inquiry, I discovered Whitney Hamblin, a Westfield, Indiana native, Ball State grad, and former Indy 500 Princess, whose accomplishments were highlighted by her Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike (AT) in 2016.
On an impulse, I sent Whitney a quick DM about the idea of doing a solo “Bare It All” session with us, and before I even had time to exit the app, she was already responding… “Hey there! This sounds SO awesome! I am very very interested… this sounds like an amazing opportunity to talk about the naked factor and capture it!”
The day after her “Naked and Afraid” episode titled "You've Got Another Sting Coming" aired, Whitney and I spoke over the phone, and scheduled her “Bare It All” session on what ended up being the 3rd Anniversary of the beginning her 2,190 mile and 6 month journey hiking the AT.
“Once I learned about the trail, there was no unknowing it. I dreamt about it, and thought about it for months, years even,” Whitney remembers, “The hike for me really just became self acceptance and self love, and something that I am able to use in my everyday life now.”
“Through hiking the Appalachian Trail, I really learned that this one body that you get is the only tool that is yours. It is the only tool that belongs to you. And it can do many, many things...”
Whitney, who picked up the nickname “Indiana Stones” while she was hiking through 14 states, documented her experience online, which attracted the attention of “Naked and Afraid” producers and ultimately lead her to being dropped off in Cantao, Brazil on a small island in the Araguaia River to see how she and her body would handle another physical and equally mental challenge.
“The changes that my body went through my hike and on the island are obviously visual cues and visual factors that show that time is real and age is something that comes with time… It just goes to show that your body is capable of anything you set out to do and anything you want to put it through.”
The dozens of scars Whitney carries from the incent bites she endured while in Brazil are very noticeable especially on her legs and buttocks, even a year after her 21 days in the jungle.
“You can really endure anything as long as you are strong enough to carry through mentally. I am proud of those scars because I earned every single one of them. Just because they marked my skin, and they look a little bit crazy, doesn't mean that I'm not going to just completely embrace them.”
Another thing that Whitney has learned to embrace about her body is very natural, her body hair. “Body hair is beautiful! We are told by society, as women, we are more attractive or desirable without this hair. This hair... that grows naturally on our bodies and serves a physiological purpose. Growing my pits and legs has been liberating and has allowed me to redefine what is beautiful."
Whitney’s body is also marked by tattoos, which she explains she “brought home” with her from her adventures, “A lot of them are souvenirs from trips. I collect them instead of tangible items. My right sleeve is a tribute to my AT hike. All of the animals, nature, and wild flowers I saw while hiking make up the different elements. I also added an armadillo because that was the first protein kill we had when I was in Brazil participating in ‘Naked and Afraid’.”.
So after hiking over two thousand miles through America and surviving 21 days in the jungles of Brazil, naked, could an opportunity to “bare it all” in front of the cameras again and tell HER story with For Your Eyes Boudoir Photography give her an even greater appreciation of her body and it’s beauty?
Watch her testimonial, look at her photos, and see just how UNAFRAID Whitney is to BARE IT ALL and see herself like she never has before…
“The photos make me feel like I see myself for the first time… Something about this experience gave me the ability to really see myself. I thought that after the jungle, but these photos are incredibly empowering. I feel like the changing of how I see myself happened while you were capturing these photos. That’s what I see when I look at them… To love my body exactly as it is occurring. Letting myself BE HERE NOW, permission to exist; as is.”
Photography by Ben Murray & Kaitlyn Gibson