In terms of getting naked, on a scale of Tobias Fünke the Never Nude to Jerry Seinfeld’s constantly naked and sneezing girlfriend, I’m right in the middle. Like a Rory Gilmore. I’ve always been a naked-when-appropriate kind of gal, and, even then, was never entirely comfortable with myself.
Actually, now that I think about it, in the past I may have leaned more toward the more conservative side of the spectrum than I realized…even at the beach, where being practically naked is the norm, wearing a shirt and shorts has always been more appealing to me than donning a bikini.
Still, this business of being naked might have less to do with norms and being “appropriate” than it does with my sense of self and body image. I know I’m not the only person in the world to have a skewed perception of my own body–plenty of women (and men, too!) see themselves differently than others do. We pick out the features that bother us most and zero in on them, making mountains of molehills and ignoring the best parts of ourselves.
Getting naked just makes it worse.
Being naked means being vulnerable and open about our bodies and what they really look like. Of course, these are good things–vulnerability and openness lead to growth, helping us be more honest with ourselves. But these things also leave us open to judgment. And that’s the scary part.
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Two years ago, when my partner and I moved in together, our air conditioning was shot. Kaputt. Dys-as-in-functional. Subsequently, we spent a lot of time scantily clad, which inevitably led to us being naked a lot. Not just for fun, really, but just…because it felt good.
In the confines of our own home, with the shades drawn (usually) and popsicles in hand (again: no air conditioning in the middle of the San Fernando Valley…), we’d hang out in the living room and watch movies. Naked. We’d work on writing at the table, grade papers, read books, play cards and board games, cook dinner. All nude.
The more time we spent undressed, the more time I found myself appreciating the quirks in both of our bodies. My partner has freckly shoulders and scars from skateboarding. I have a short-ish torso and scars from an appendectomy. I also have hips that are slowly widening as my birthdays creep closer to 30, knobbly knees, and varicose veins from jobs that keep my on my feet all the time. These things used to bother me. But now…I find them charming. Plus, I’ve found that all this time sans-clothing has helped me in a myriad of ways, from shaping my personal outlook to improving my professional relationships.
Here are three reasons why.
1. Getting naked normalizes nudity. Some people might not like that constant exposure to naked bodies makes being naked…normal. I get that, but shouldn’t being comfortable with yourself in varying states of undress normal? I’m not advocating a mass exodus to our local nudist colonies or anything, but spending a little time naked–when you aren’t in the shower or with your paramour–is a nice way to make a naked body less taboo. And it’s a nice way to cut down that energy bill in the summer months…
2. Getting naked keeps you and your body in tune. In the midst of all this naked time, I’ve found myself growing more accustomed to the various ways my body changes with each cycle. Not only that–I’ve watched the progress my body has made as I get older. After I turned 28 last December, I watched my hips widen, my jawline and cheekbones made themselves more apparent as my face slimmed, and my breasts decided now was the perfect time for that growth spurt I’d hoped for at age 12. The differences aren’t gargantuan, to be sure, and I doubt I’d really have noticed them–or paid much attention to them–if not for the fact that I’ve grown so accustomed to my body as it was…and as it is now.
3. Getting naked boosts your confidence. I’ve always been a reasonably outgoing person–a reluctant extrovert–but being so aware of myself has seriously changed the way I interact with people, and it’s a change for the better. I’m not preoccupied with concerns about how I look (with or without clothes) or whether or not I’m being judged by my peers, because I’m too comfortable with myself for that nonsense. The improvement in my body image and confidence level has made me a more outgoing, friendly, and inviting person, and has helped me to put myself out there in terms of new friends, new job opportunities, and new yoga groups, among other things.
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I know getting naked isn’t the be-all-end-all cure for everything, but if you’re shy, need a boost of confidence, or are just too darn hot in the summer months, it might be time to give casual nudity a try.
Has getting naked changed shaped your body image?
Also by Kristin: 5 Ways to Embrace a Lo-Fi Lifestyle
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