There comes a time in a man’s life when he agrees to do a nude photoshoot. Why did I do it? I did it for me.
I was tired of people just thinking I was a brilliant mind. I wanted people to respect me for my body too. I also wanted to make people comfortable with talking about a topic that’s still a little taboo.
That makes people uncomfortable, that perhaps they would rather ignore: Hairy shoulders. Seriously, Where’s all the male body hair? Everyone looks like a professional cyclist. Beards don’t count.
By the way, I should say I was wearing togs in case anyone gets the willies over this. Even with the togs though, being the fleshiest person in a room that’s not a sauna, amongst clothed people who have no medical qualifications did make me feel a bit objectified. Which is nice.
And of course I wanted to take part in the Examiner yourself campaign because there is a large cohort of men like me — early 40s with small children. We are in a period of peak hypochondria and distraction about children’s health coinciding with the start of the “shur it’ll be grand” attitude to one’s own.
So I’m following the maxim that the best thing you can do for your children is to look after yourself. There are logical limits to this.
For example, if your children are being attacked by a bear and you’ve no other recourse, it’s not, strictly speaking, the best approach to focus on your own well-being. This is a large angry apex predator. At some point you’re going to have to try and distract the bear by running around waving honey or grubs. But bear attacks happen less than you think so a spot of self-care is important.
I’m not the best at that. I’ve put off admitting this for a while but there is a strong procrastination streak in me. Silly stuff. Maybe it’s the weighting on our fridge-door TODO List. All things are equal on it. So, “clean porridge stains off the wall” has the same weighting as “Colm Dentist”. That seems fair. I mean like, it’s ONLY MY TEETH we’re talking about. The things used to do EATING which keeps me ALIVE.
So I definitely need to tackle my priorities. Unfortunately “tackle my priorities” on the TODO list has the same weighting as “Ring Eir”. But then again, no one wants to ring EIr so there’s a chance that “tackle priorities” might actually me done.
One job has been ticked off the list though. I’m lucky that, in one aspect, nature has handed me a great health-check reminder: Moles. Moles make a lot of my torso look like hairy barm brack. And there are more now than before. Big ones, small ones, merged ones, dynasties, a whole civilisation of moles. And they shouted at me to go to the dermatologist. He said all was fine but suggested I photograph myself once a year to see if there’s ‘scope creep’.
It’s one of those photos that I’ve removed from the phone to somewhere safe, lest some poor innocent person, that I’m trying to find a photo for, glimpses the bread-pudding mix. But the whole experience has at least been the start of a habit of checking which I need to keep going. And also it copped me on in my sunshine behaviour. Hopefully not too late.
I’ve loved the sun since I was small. Summer tan was a sign of good honest labour, picking stones or pulling ragwort, or cutting thistles. Out in a field all day thinking I can’t believe I’m being PAID to get a tan. But those days are over.
Speaking of whole things, I have on our TODO list ‘get checked’. It’s a euphemism. There will be no photos of this.
- Colm O’Regan brings his hairy shoulders to Cork’s City Limits this Saturday, 28th September.