When I was little my mom would take me with her when she went shopping. Clothing stores were the my favorite because back in the early 1990s all of the clothes were hung on circular racks…and I used to sneak off and hide inside them. Of course. While I may have gotten lost once or twice (sorry mom!), most of the time it wasn’t hard for my mom to find me… she just had to find the rack that looked like a clothing volcano. See, once I was inside the racks, I’d take off all my clothes and throw them out the top of the rack. Sometimes I’d try on the new clothes. Then I’d throw those out the top too. The rack that was spewing clothes was the one I was in. I’m sure the associated loved me.
But most of the time (I’m told) I just wanted to be naked.
When we’re young we’re not ashamed of our bodies. It is simply the skin-covered thing that we live inside. Our bodies let us run and jump and do cool things like climb trees and swing on the monkey bars. I remember one summer I learned to do them. I was so happy! And then something changed. At some point I lost that sense of fearlessness and adventure and began restricting what my body could do. Suddenly my body became something negative that I was trapped inside of. The lack of positivity continued and, like most girls, I became more concerned with what my body looked like and less with what it could do.
As part of my weight loss journey I decided to see what my body could do again. Running, yoga, swimming, hiking, etc. But I realized that getting past the fear of what my body could do was just one part of the issue. The other was getting past the fear of how my body looked. As I’ve said, it’s not just about the weight, but after years of being told to change, to cover up, to hide your curves, to drop a few pounds, the layers build up and it’s hard to get back to being comfortable with not just how your body looks, but actually looking at your body.
Before two years ago, I could not have told you a time when I had looked at myself in the mirror. Really looked. Once I started losing weight, I’d catch my reflection in a store window and think “is that really me?” I was actually surprised at my own reflection! Strangely, it was my face more than anything. Once I thought about this, I realized that before two years ago, I’d never even really looked at myself naked. Ever. I mean, how dare I look at my own naked body?! Put some clothes on, Jenn! Don’t be vain! But despite what we’re told (and despite female nipples not being allowed on social media), our bodies are not something to be ashamed of. Especially naked.
So I started to do it. Looking at myself in the mirror. Naked. To learn what I actually looked like. Of course I noticed changes… 40 lbs is a lot, but I noticed even at 20 lbs. I was proud of what I’d accomplished, but it wasn’t just that. I noticed freckles and beauty marks I’d unknowingly had for over 20 years (and secretly hoped no one would ever need to use them to identify my body in a serial killer situation). I noticed scars I’d forgotten about from when I had the chicken pox or when I fell on the playground. And of course, I noticed rolls and wrinkles and dimples and stretch marks that I’d had for as long as I could remember. But somehow now, I was not ashamed of them.
I started liking what I saw in the mirror.
Now, I’m not an advocate for seeking external approval, especially when it comes to your body… but I will admit that it didn’t hurt that I was getting into the dating scene and felt more attractive than I ever had before. Once I realized that the guy I was seeing at the time (French Toast) was all about my rolls and dimples, I knew that the body negativity was crazy and something I had to get away from. We care so much about how we look, but most of the time our appearance isn’t even for us.
Before French Toast and I slept together the first time, I shaved, exfoliated, moisturized, put make up on, etc. I even matched my bra and my underwear (I meant business). I wanted to look good. I wanted to be attractive. Afterwards, he put his clothes back on and I remember thinking that I should put my clothes back on too. And then I thought to myself, “Why? He literally just had sex with me. I was naked. If he’s cool with my body, why aren’t I?” I did not put my clothes back on. And now I rarely do.
I’ve talked a lot with my friends about this need to be clothed. Especially after sex. And while I understand that it’s something most people do, I’d like to point out that it’s just another sign that we’re taught to hide and be ashamed of our bodies. Friendly reminder that the person you slept with just slept with you. And unless there’s a sex position that I’ve never heard of that allows for your partner to see you at the exact same angle as the perfect selfie you posted to your Snapchat story… they know what you look like. Good, bad, and ugly.
So let’s get naked! I’d like to challenge you to do two things:
- Check yourself out in the mirror. Naked. What’s the worst that could happen? (No your mirror will not crack). #WhosTheFairestofThemAll #YouAre
- Don’t get dressed after sex. Stay naked. If you’re cold, blankets exist on a bed for a reason. If you’re not in a bed… cool, but beds are super comfortable so find a bed. You’ll thank me after the nap.
See how you feel. See what happens. I’d like to bet that after the first few times that will definitely be slightly awkward, you’ll enjoy it and you’ll appreciate the skin-covered thing you live in a little more. Maybe you’ll realize that being naked is freeing and there’s a reason we’re all born without clothes on. How weird would that be if we weren’t?!