We are born naked. That moment lasts a second before our tiny bodies are swaddled in blankets. As we age, we start dressing to flatter our bodies. You’re on the shorter side? Wear shorts and skirts that cut above the knee to elongate your body. You have a bit of a tummy? Wear floaty fabrics that don’t draw attention to it. We are all about covering and reshaping. But what if I challenged you to stand in front of your mirror naked? Just stand there and look. No floaty fabrics, cling in the right places, or spandex. Just you and your skin.
For a lot of people, this would make them uncomfortable. For whatever reason, their naked body makes them blush. This is a concept I never understood. I have never been able to fathom why their own nudity makes some people so uncomfortable. I must assume it is from familial or cultural traditions that I was not privy to.
Maybe my experience with nudity has been a bit different. Ever since I was little, nudity was never a big deal. I’m from one of those families that doesn’t close the door when we shower. When we were on vacation, my mom would make my sister and I strip down so she could spray every inch of us with sunscreen before we put on our swimsuits for the beach. That was just normal. I quickly realized when I would go to my friend’s houses that this behavior was not typical. My friends were horrified at the idea of seeing their family members naked or anyone seeing them naked. They made sure to close the door to the bathroom and it was completely unacceptable to walk in on anyone, for any reason (Luckily, I was an observant child and never made that mistake). But at my house, my sister and I would honestly have full on conversations while one of us was peeing. And if my mom was in the shower, I would be in the bathroom doing my makeup. My parents never made it a big deal and consequently, I never treated the naked body as anything out of the ordinary.
Then, when I joined swimming, nudity and exposure just became even more commonplace. Locker rooms twice a day, swim meets on weekends – eventually, you just lose any sense of modesty purely because it’s inconvenient. Furthermore, speedos and competition suits don’t really leave much to the imagination. I’ve been around nearly naked guys and girls since I was nine and even though we all obviously hit puberty, the nudity was already part of our lives. Swimming is just an exposed sport, and it was never a big deal.
I guess I can understand why people would be uncomfortable being naked in front of others. It’s an extremely vulnerable position to put yourself in. But sometimes nudity makes sense. We all have to change clothes, we all shower, and for the most part, we all have sex – all of which are activities that are made much easier by being nude. Yet some people will still painstakingly hide their bodies. They will only change in bathroom stalls, they will have sex under the sheets with the lights off, etc. But why are they afraid of their own bodies?
If you’re one of these people, I challenge you to stand in front of your mirror for a full minute, naked. Do it when no one is home. Lock yourself in your bathroom. I don’t care what you have to do to feel safe, but try it. Don’t focus on flaws or attributes, just take stock of what’s there and how everything fits together. I promise you don’t have anything that no one else has. This isn’t about body confidence or that whole positivity movement. This is about being aware of what your body truly looks like, and accepting that.
I’m grateful for the way I was raised and for swimming because they made me comfortable in my own naked skin. I was never made to feel that being exposed was bad, or that my nakedness was offensive. It was just there. I know from personal experience, the more comfortable you feel being naked alone, the less scary it is in front of others, and one day it might not even be a big deal to you at all.
WARNING: this confidence will throw some people off. My boyfriend is consistently afraid for my modesty when I strut around my own apartment nude. I assure him I don’t care who sees me naked. Surprisingly, that doesn’t calm him down 😉