Whentrying to encourage positive change in the world, it can be hard to make your voice heard and stand out, no matter how noble the cause.
But one man found a unique solution: strip off and pose for pictures.
Meet The Naked Professor, an Instagram account and blog dedicated to encouraging people - and men in particular - to become more connected to themselves, free their minds, reveal their true selves and be proud of who they are.
And how is this done? Why, by posting naked pictures in, more often than not, places that are usually extremely busy.
The man behind the naked body, however, is Ben, a 36-year-old tech entrepreneur from south-west London.
Whether gazing over the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament or walking along rocky cliffs, Ben is fully naked in nearly all his photos.
This isn’t just about getting attention for his impressive physique though, Ben hopes to spread his message to his 16,000 followers and the world.
The idea came about after he developed anxiety through a new work venture: “For the last three years I’ve been running a technology startup company, which hasn’t gone how I originally hoped,” he toldThe Independent.
“The tech hasn’t ever functioned very well, leaving me feeling like a large part of my life was in someone else’s hands and anxiety crept in.”
However this feeling led Ben to look for control elsewhere in his life: “I used the anxiety as a driver to take action and put my mind towards creating something which I did have direct control over,” he explains.
It was from here that an interest in personal development grew.
Once he started expressing his true self, everything changed. And now Ben wants others to do the same.
“[The Naked Professor] is about sharing my education in learning to live in a better way, and trying to inspire my audience to live a more fulfilling life by being proud of who they are,” Ben says.
“I want to stir something inside of others that gets them to check in with who they are and how they are living and get them to take action if they aren’t satisfied with what they represent.
“I want my audience to remove their masks that hides their true personality and instead to embrace the spirit they have within and the values they stand for, to become their own person, creative and inspired.”
It’s a valiant message, but it’s likely to be Ben’s images that first attract most people to his account.
With many photos taken at London’s busiest tourist spots, Ben and his photographer Alin Ostafe venture out at the quietest times of the day to take their pictures.
“Even then it’s not often totally clear, so we have to wait patiently and then get everything done as quickly as possible when the chance comes!” Ben explains. “We prep for each image fully clothed to make sure we have everything right, then I remove my clothes as quickly as possible to get the image done ASAP before anyone else bears witness to us!”
And so far, he hasn’t landed himself in any trouble. “We are so careful not to cause offence,” Ben says. “We really only do this when we are sure the coast is clear and everything can be done without anyone else becoming aware.”
While Ben started out never showing his face in his pictures, he’s gradually revealed more of his appearance and says anonymity isn’t particularly important to him, despite the intrigue around who he is.
Ben wasn’t nervous about posting naked pictures either, saying he thinks more about his message than anything else. And, he says, all the reaction he’s received has been positive and supportive.
For many people, social media fuels body dysmorphia and dissatisfaction, but Ben says he works out to feel good about himself, not for his pictures. “I love how exercising hard makes me feel and I am aware that my own personal relationship with myself is best when I am physically active and healthy,” he explains.
“If that comes across in my images then that’s great but I won’t stop getting them done if my body shape changes for whatever reason.”
At the end of the day, for Ben, it comes down to inspiring peopleto lead better lives.
“Life is too short to go through the motions, to live in autopilot mode, to not be inspired about your own existence,” he says. “I want to embody and share this message and help others lead a more fulfilling life.”
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