For most women, the thought of being seen naked in public strikes fear into the core of our very being. I have visions of people screaming, covering their eyes and running for the nearest exits when confronted with my nudity. When having any conversation about aging or menopause one of the first things that will come up is how much women feel their bodies have betrayed them, how much they rebel on a daily basis trying to beat their bodies into submission with crash diets, excessive workouts and even Spanx. (A modern torture instrument if you ask me! Sorry Sara Blakely.) The amount of distain that we women hold for our bodies is actually quite sad, but especially so at this time of life. Why are we under the delusion that our bodies are supposed to remain as they existed at the age of 25 forever? Why can we not accept that the passage of time will change our bodies as it does everything else in nature? Unreasonable cultural expectation has us constantly comparing and measuring ourselves against an unattainable standard that, in reality, not even 25-year old’s can live up to. At best it’s a losing proposition. At worst it’s a sure-fire way to erode your confidence and leave you feeling completely inadequate. Having gained 25 lbs in the past 2 years on my once lean and fit frame has me falling into this self-defeating comparison trap on the regular. I will readily admit that learning to love my new body is a work in progress.
While on a recent vacation with my girlfriends in Europe we happened upon several nude beaches. And as you would expect the discussion of “Should we?” “Do we dare?” came up. And we decided to go for it. Well….. let me qualify that, not fully naked, but topless. Baby steps people! We unhinged our tops and threw them to the wind. Ok it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but you get the picture. Let me put this into a bit of context for you. Even putting a bikini on my much softer and rounder body has me seriously out of my comfort zone these days. In the first few seconds there was a feeling of intense exposure and vulnerability… Are my breasts too saggy? Is my stomach sticking out too far? Do I have back fat? After a quick scan to see who was looking and judging I quickly realized that the only judgment of my body was coming from me. In fact, no one else gave a crap. Everyone, who probably had the same thoughts about themselves at some point, was minding their own business and doing their thing. Sigh of relief. After a while I began to notice an overwhelming feeling of freedom to not be worrying about what anyone was thinking… especially me. My mind was fully focused on enjoying the fabulous company and beautiful surroundings. To my surprise being exposed in public without judgment began to bring a new sense of acceptance and empowerment in my body that I hadn’t experienced before. I didn’t feel the need to posture, nit-pick, or cover up any part of myself. I was fully enjoying the freedom of the experience. Looking back, it made me realize just how much mind space is taken up with conscious and subconscious chatter about the appearance my body. What if we could all feel this comfortable in our bodies on a daily basis? What if we could be fully in acceptance of exactly how our bodies exist at this very moment without feeling the need to adjust, correct, or apologize. The really sad part is that we often let how we feel about our physical state slowly seep into how we feel about ourselves and how powerful and capable we are. Can you imagine much freer and more empowered we could feel to pursue the things that mattered to us if we’re not wasting valuable mental energy on the supposed physical flaws of age.
I know that for me the sense of freedom and empowerment brought about by being fully in acceptance of my body, even for that short period of time cannot be undone. Is my body where I want it to be? No! Have I given up hope that I will be able to lose the extra pounds? No! But what I am giving up as a result of his experience is letting the shape of body erode my confidence, sap my energy or hold me back from stepping out of my comfort zone, taking risks and building a kick ass next chapter of life.
How do you feel about being nude in public? Would you do it?