There are few things more authentic about my life right now than the fact that I am constantly trying to dress in a way that is as close to naked as possible without getting in trouble.
If you follow any of my social media accounts, you probably already know that I refuse to train with a shirt on, my shorts barely cover my butt cheeks, I wear the smallest possible bikinis, and I’m always barefoot.
I’ve written before about why I post naked photos on the internet so often, for reasons including embracing my true nature, and participating in non-sexualized female nudity because I believe the world needs more of it. But some people still ask me why I choose to show so much skin in so many of my posts. I can see how it might seem hypocritical that I talk about how a woman’s value is completely unrelated to the way her body looks, while also posting photos of mine so frequently.
The truth is though, my internet persona is an extremely accurate reflection of my real-life persona, up to and including my desire to be as naked as I can get away with. At this particular moment in my life, I am deeply, abundantly empowered by nakedness. Here’s why.
My journey to nakedness
I have always loved clothes. In middle school I shopped exclusively at cheap stores like Charlotte Russe and Forever 21. I didn’t have enough money for good clothes, but it didn’t really matter, because I thought all the “good clothes” were boring. I liked having the wardrobe diversity to dress myself in what were sometimes closer to costumes than actual outfits.
At some point in middle school, like most girls, I started reading fashion magazines. My mom was dead set against them, but I adored all the fabulous outfits. The women in the magazines didn’t dress ANYTHING like the girls in my high school; fashion seemed weird and unique and beautiful! At first I felt encouraged to treat fashion like an exploration, and continued dressing in ways that pleased me.
But eventually a shift took place. Through those glorious fashion magazines, I learned that I had been using clothes wrong. Clothes weren’t for self-expression and fabulous visuals, I finally learned. Clothes were for tricking people.
It became clear as I consumed story after story on how to dress myself that some clothes were only ok for some bodies, and other clothes were ok for other bodies. It became clear that as a woman with curves, my job was to constantly downplay and disguise those curves and keep people from noticing them. It was unacceptable to just “wear” my clothes, I had to arrange them in a way that created complicated optical illusions, so as to not offend anyone or give the wrong impression.
When I got dressed, it was my responsibility to manipulate the thoughts of everyone who saw me that day. Everything I wore was designed to draw the eyes of onlookers to one place on my body, and to keep their eyes from going somewhere else.
Anything that jiggled had to be held down so that people didn’t think I was fat. Anything provocative had to be offset by something conservative so that people didn’t think I was slutty. Anything too short had to be “lengthened” and anything too long had to be “broken up.” Every morning for over a decade, I performed a complicated ritual of deciding how I wanted to trick people that day. What did I want them to see? What did I want them to gloss over?
It was of absolute dire importance that nobody ever find out what I really look like. This was my area of expertise- this is what the fashion magazines had trained me for.
While this seemed completely normal (after all, don’t all women do this?), I eventually realized this habit was causing me to live in fear of people finding out what my body really looked like. I started to challenge that fear by pushing out of my comfort zone when it came to my clothes, and removing layers of disguises. First I got rid of all my push-up bras, then I started working out in just a sports bra. I couldn’t believe how vulnerable both of those things made me feel, but also how free!
Every little step I took after that was conscious, and every step was uncomfortable. I remember vividly the first time I went braless in NYC (I was so scared I could barely breathe). But eventually it got easier.
I started wearing just underwear around the apartment with friends. I wore less and less at the gym. I gave up sleeves, and then I started cutting up my clothes. Backless, sideless, shorter and shorter. I took my clothes off any chance I could, and my social media accounts reflected that.
This exploration of how little I can get away with wearing in public was fucking liberating.
As I removed layers of fabric, I also removed the burden I had been carrying around for over a decade: the burden of controlling how other people experience my body. I was removing myself entirely from the responsibility to control how people receive me, and I felt wildly free.
People made fun of me, sure. One night I was out with my best friends and they were laughing about my shorts, which didn’t even pretend to cover the bottom of my butt cheeks. I realized in that moment how far I had come, how little I cared, and what a big deal that was.
I felt completely safe to be myself, and that meant all of me. No hiding.
And that’s when I realized the deeper significance of my journey to nakedness.
I have several instances of sexual assault in my history, and I went through an experience at 19 involving an emotionally abusive partner.
Wearing clothes had been, without even realizing it, a layer of protection between myself and a world that felt unsafe.
It was a way that I made sure nobody hurt me again. I refused to dress “like a girl” because I felt safer in the less sexually inviting role of being just “one of the guys.” I accomplished this role with the way I dressed, and when I started wearing girlie dresses, I did so consciously as a form of healing and moving forward.
The truth is, wearing less and less clothes was my way of telling the world that I trusted her again.
I was my coming-out as a woman who felt safe being a woman, and as someone who knew it wasn’t my fault. My desire to get more naked perfectly aligned with the the timeline of when I no longer felt constantly afraid. I felt safe, and I felt myself blooming from a defensive and angry kid into a woman whose heart was the size of the universe.
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I felt safe in my body, and I no longer needed to hide or protect myself with clothes. As I stripped off layer after layer, I realized I was in the final stages of healing from a wound that was so deep and powerful that I honestly didn’t know if I would ever come out the other side.
Deciding that it’s not my responsibility to control other people’s experience of my body was liberating, but deciding that I could trust the world again was nothing short of a spiritual miracle.
Some people don’t understand how I can possibly believe that getting naked doesn’t put me in danger, or turn people on. I know it’s hard to grasp. My day to day near-nakedness isn’t intended to turn people on, but I still understand that showing so much skin is “sexy.”
The truth is, that’s part of what makes it so healing. I choose to not let other people’s responses be my business. I trust that people are good. I trust that by behaving in alignment with my higher self, and diligently holding others in unconditional positive regard, that I will be treated with respect, autonomy, and compassion.
Feel free to call me naive, but I see it proven over and over. I trust in my intuition, and in the capacity for all humans to be bigger and better and more loving than anyone gives them credit for.
That combination is what I’m celebrating every time I choose to dress myself in as little fabric as possible.
That’s what I’m celebrating when I push the limits of how little will still be considered “acceptable attire” (or at least, “legal attire”) when I go out. It’s what I’m celebrating when I do acro yoga mostly naked with trusted new friends. It’s what I’m celebrating when I sign up to do naked photoshoots, and take every possible opportunity to doff my clothes, both in the real world and on the internet.
Maybe someday I’ll go full nudist. Maybe I’ll eventually swing the other way and feel empowered by wearing modest, ladylike clothes. But in the meantime, living life mostly naked has been, hands down, the most liberating, joyful, and healing practice of my entire life.