Sex, vulnerability, and shame. Those are the words that come to my mind when I hear the word "naked." While our culture's knee jerk response is to equate nakedness with the human form and sexuality, the nakedness that accompanies emotional vulnerability is, to me, far more intriguing and potentially life altering. For some both come naturally. For others (like myself and I suspect many of you) they can both make us feel equally uncomfortable in our own skin due to feeling ashamed for fear that others will judge us by our imperfections in both realms.
Yesterday I read a BRILLIANT blog post written by Massage Therapist Kate Bartolotta titled: Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People. Click over and read it. It's all about realizations about both types of nakedness that can lead you to being more accepting about not just what you look like pysically, but with the kind of person you are, as well as the person you can become and the potential life experiences that become possible if you're willing to drop your guard.
I've done far better overcoming the emotional nakedness involved in allowing myself to be vulnerable than with physical nakedness. In my personal life I'm an open book. Despite the many mistakes I've made in the past they are part of my life experience and I can honestly say I'm no longer ashamed of any of them. We're all human. We all make mistakes. I have nothing to hide. On the blog the biggest risk I've taken being emotionally naked was writing about my past history with depression. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but the moment I hit the publish button I was glad I did it because more voices are needed in the conversation to erase away the stigmas associated with depression and suicide.
As for the physical, after working women's retail apparel for a decade I am completely desensitized to seeing other women naked. That was the first time I truly realized some people have no hang ups about nudity. At all. LOL
But, I was raised in a modest household and grew up well into adulthood with a lot of negative things being said about my body being "too thin" even though it was my natural weight and I couldn't gain or lose weight even if I'd tried. Here's the thing, when you tell a thin person you hate them because they're thin? Those words can hurt even if they're meant as a left-handed compliment. Not so much now. I've finally gained enough weight to look closer to average and enough confidence to not let the critiques of others negatively impact my self image. But up into my late 30's, complete strangers on the street would walk up to me and say they "hated" me. I should have just ignored them but I let them in my head and now there is some damage to be undone if I'm willing to acknowledge and work at it.
I did do a (nothing naked or see through) boudoir shoot with the fabulous Critsey Rowe of Couture Boudoir several years ago. While tame, relative to other shoots she's done, it was a big step for me to work towards overcoming my hatred of being in front of a camera and the way I view my body in general.
Maybe someday I'll work on getting truly naked and relaxed by skinny dipping by moonlight somewhere on a mountain far away from any city. . . When not another living soul is within a 10 miles radius. OK, fish, owls, raccoons and opossum are ok, but nobody else :) Seriously, I just realized that even though I'll probably never actually do it, just thinking about it is liberating in a vicarious way. Baby steps.
The thing that took me far too long to realize is that my body will never make everyone happy. But guess what? It doesn't need to. I'm the only one who needs to be happy with the way it looks. (If I were anorexic or bulimic that wouldn't be true, but I wasn't and am not.) Now? Anyone who has the audacity to tell me I'm "too this" or "not enough that" can basically take a flying leap. We are each so much more than what we look like with or without clothes.
If you read Eight things I Learned from 50 Naked People I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and come away with the ability (or even the potential) to embrace yourself just the way you are. Thank you Kate for so eloquently putting into words what so many of us needed to hear.