the naked body is a beautiful body.
(this picture is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. if it offends you, that wasn’t my intention.)
but to a lot of people, a lot of american people, the naked body is a shameful body. birthday suits are worn without celebration. we keep backs turned. lights down low. mirrors become things to be avoided, sleeping a thing to do clothed (well, unless you live in snow in the wintertime).
why so much embarrassment over our physical selves?
i avoided my naked reflection for years. stepped out of the shower and toweled up quick. changed in front of dressing room mirrors without long observant glances. i did not grow up viewing my body as a positive thing. just an embarrassing, incorrect thing. too squishy. too round. too wide. too much.
a year and a half(ish) ago i woke up to the insanity that was my life. the running. the broken down knees. the tears, always. the numbness. a year and a half ago i took a deep breath and vowed to love myself, to love my body. i dove into yoga. i bent and stretched, spilled and splayed in ways i never wanted to be seen. i held my breath, waited for the remarks, the “zoe, we’re offended by your body” comments. no one said anything. i kept breathing.
eventually i, the forever naked-phobe, stepped onto my mat — sans clothing. i giggled, a pre-teen once again. the brush of skin against skin was so foreign. alone, in my house, i flowed dressed in the most natural clothing i owned. at the end, as i lay in blissful, sweet shavasana, freedom tingled just beneath my skin.
i learned how to be naked elsewhere, too. one night during summer, sunk in the middle of the heat trapped in my apartment, i stripped off sweaty pajamas and delighted in the coolness of sheets against my warm skin. i never put them back on. winter simply means more blankets now.
during the summers my roommate left the apartment. for three whole months i lived alone, the small space my own for endlessly stretched out days. in the mornings, before clothes, i putted around the house nude. waking up unrestrained guarantees waking up comfortably. i promise.
the more i practiced at nudity, the more comfortable i got sitting with my own body. i felt more connected to myself. i found i liked what i saw when i took the time to look. and i find now i indulge in the naked time i do get post shower, in bed, or on my yoga matt.
if you can’t look at your body or be naked with you body, how do you expect to cultivate any sort of self-love?
nakedness is the epitome of physical vulnerability. we cannot disappear or conceal anything behind clothing, behind layers of fabric. we present ourselves as we really are — squishiness, dimples, roundness and all. all the bits and pieces we call flaws are put on display for other people. kind of terrifying, especially if you and your body do not get along.
which is why i write to you today with gentle words of encouragement. notice how often you wear clothing. notice how often you don’t wear clothing. become aware of the emotions that come up while you are naked. notice the thoughts that float up and try not to attach to them. try not to believe them. remove eroticism and just be, for a moment, in your most free physical state. see what happens. see how long you can stay undressed. practice nakedness in small doses if you’re just beginning — in the morning, at night before bed, in front of the mirror before and after showering. it’s not as scary as it sounds. really, i promise (and i don’t promise much).
lack of body confidence seriously affects lives. think about it. think about all the places you hesitate over because you question the beauty of your body. the beach. the pool. the dance floor. the bedroom. think about all the beautiful moments you forego. think about all the life you shut the door on.
body confidence does not happen over night. it takes effort. it takes consciousness. it’s a practice. which is why i am nudging you in the softest of ways towards little naked baby steps. waking up to the gorgeousness that is the landscape of your body will benefit so many areas of your life. other people already see the beauty you hold. imagine what would happen if you saw it, too.