Before I dig into this topic, I want to provide a quick reminder:
I don’t write about style because I think I have all the answers or because I think I know better than you or Stacy London or other style bloggers or anyone at all. I write about style because it fascinates and delights me, and because I enjoy sharing my insights and hearing yours in response. Similarly, I don’t write about body image because I have achieved total body love myself and never experience a flicker of self-doubt. I write about body image because it is something I have struggled with for most of my life, and something I struggle with on a daily basis still.
This morning as I stood in the shower, I realized that I’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go. I was naked in the shower. Shocker, I know. And as I stood there under the hot water I realized there there are only three situations in which I enjoy being naked: In the shower, gettin’ it on with my husband, and on a day that is so hot and humid that being dressed feels like punishment. Otherwise I hate being naked. Really and truly hate it. And not because anyone has ever made fun of my nakedness or because I feel acute shame about my figure. I hate it because being naked can only be done one way. I have spent a lot of time and energy thinking about my clothed form and deciding how I want to present it to the world. Variety in dressing is one of my great joys in life. There is no tweaking my naked look, no changing it up. My naked is fixed.
I’ll admit, too, that when I’m naked I apply a level of scrutiny to my body that seldom surfaces when I’m clothed. And that the current beauty paradigm looms larger than it does when I’m clothed. And that I have a harder time accepting the things about my body that frustrate me: Abundant body hair, cellulite, lack of muscle tone, moles, jiggle, stretch marks, keratosis pilaris, and the list goes on. In fact the longer I’m naked, the longer the list gets.
And just as some people feel that the body love movement is a little overbearing in its messaging, I feel that – as someone who preaches the gospel of self-love – I am expected to absolutely ADORE being naked. Because it’s my body’s natural state and because if I don’t love my naked self, can I really love myself? Naked is the body pure, and if I don’t love my body when it’s totally unencumbered and unobscured, then I probably have some work to do. That’s the message I’ve absorbed over years of reading and discussion and rumination.
And I kind of resent it. I am constantly freezing, so being naked isn’t fun for me because, most of the time, it makes me even more freezing. I am someone who really loves clothes, so focusing on an unclothed state isn’t terribly appealing. There are very few situations in which it is socially appropriate to be naked, and I’m kinda fine with that.
But I can also see nudity as a symbolic mountain that I might want to start climbing. I’ve come to think about my body as it relates to clothes, and my positive feelings may be somewhat contingent upon clothes. If being naked brings all of my insecurities to the surface, they were there all along. I cannot imagine life free of body hang-ups. It’s a worthy goal, but not one I feel superhuman enough to undertake or a standard to which I’d hold anyone else. I can’t imagine becoming a person who brags about how much she loves running around in the buff. I’m just too much of a prude, to be perfectly frank. I can, however, imagine a life in which naked is OK.
Too bad I’ll probably have to spend a bunch of time naked and grumpy to get there …