When I set out to create Remodel Fitness, I filled notebooks full of ideas for branding, purpose, mission statements, and content. I knew I wanted to help women feel more comfortable and empowered in their bodies, and I knew that fitness was my vehicle to help accomplish that. Fitness is not the only way to feel empowered, however, and today I want to talk about the deeply empowering quality of… nakedness.
I grew up believing in the sanctity of biology. To me it seemed that some stuff was more “natural,” and therefore good, and deserved to be honored. Real food instead of processed food, for example. Spending time in nature. Not using tons of products, or owning tons of stuff. Being barefoot; being naked.
It always just felt right to me to be naked. As a kid I wanted to be naked all the time, and my superstar mom believed in honoring my autonomy. This led to countless times in which I succeeded at being naked when it was objectively NOT appropriate. What felt so good to me about being naked was, for lack of a better phrase, metaphysical rightness. It felt natural, like I was honoring my deepest and most primitive belonging to the earth. Long before my vocabulary adopted “spiritual” words, being naked felt like being Home.
I’ve gotten away from a lot of my guiding faith in “naturalness” as I’ve gotten older, mostly out of convenience and from living in NYC. Wearing shoes feels normal now, I prefer to be clean, and I certainly use many not-so-natural products. But I’m happiest when I honor and chase that feeling of metaphysical rightness, I’ve decided to finally address the naked elephant in the room.
It’s not an easy task to feel Right in a world that body-shames and slut-shames and shame-shame-shames everyone into feeling deeply, inherently wrong. But I’ve always had very strong feelings about natural, real-life nakedness. I think it’s an epic travesty that our culture doesn’t support it. There’s something inherently wrong to me about clothes being the default. I like clothes, don’t get me wrong. I like style, and I like being warm, and there’s no effing way I would ever sit my bare naked ass on, say, a NYC subway seat. But I also think that a huge amount of our cultural issues with body shaming and distorted body image can be traced back to how uncomfortable we are with real, natural nakedness.
In many other cultures, you grow up seeing naked bodies around you. As a girl growing up in Europe or Latin America, you would frequently see all the women in your family naked, and in places like bathhouses and gyms, single-sex nudity is the norm. But not for us. Instead of seeing the real, child-bearing and life-enjoying bodies of our aunts and moms and sisters and friends, we grow up seeing only the tall, taught, tan, and totally photoshopped bodies of Victoria’s Secret models. Instead of seeing that breasts and bellies and thighs come in all sorts of wonderful shapes and sizes, we see only bodies that have been surgically and digitally altered to all look more or less the same. Perky, symmetrical, full breasts, gently toned flat stomachs, long lean legs.
It has been shown that even brief exposure to one kind of body type or size makes the viewer immediately prefer that kind of body type. Meaning: we prefer the kind of bodies we see the most often, and in our culture we are constantly inundated with one certain kind of female body. Most women who don’t have that size and shape of body feel so undeserving of showing their bodies in public that they cover up as much as possible, further decreasing our exposure to body diversity. Our culture’s lack of body diversity is really, really damaging to our psyches.
In high school, despite the fact that I grew up in a body-positive and sex-positive household, I was so flooded with anxiety about how “wrong” my natural body was, that I was completely unable to relax. There were so much about myself I needed to hide, and to distract from. It was a full time job; I had to sit and stand in such a way that my limbs didn’t soften and look fat, I had to suck my belly in hard, and I had to keep my chin forward so I didn’t look like I had a double chin. At home alone I tweezed, shaved, did crunches, applied spray tans, and learned how to apply makeup to distract from all my flaws. I learned that there was only one acceptable way for a woman to look, and in many ways (despite my endless crusade to love yourself), I’m still unlearning it.
On top of being non-diverse and unrealistic/fake, the images of women’s bodies that we’re exposed to are also always sexualized in nature. We see hot A-list celebs getting naked in sex scenes, dancers twerking in rap videos, advertisements that take the phrase “sex sells” increasingly literally, and women in porn. We almost always see women’s bodies posed and performing for the male gaze; if you pay attention to mainsteam media, if becomes clear that women’s bodies are sexual objects for public consumption. If a woman doesn’t stack up to our standards of sexiness (ie some fully-clothed politicians I can think of), people feel so cheated in their collective right to be titillated, that the woman gets slammed with judgement, shame, speculation over her frigidity, and observations about her weight.
Very rarely do you see a naked woman who is not posing or being objectified and sexualized in some way. When’s the last time you saw a naked women just chillin’, and like… vaccuuming, or gardening; not being a sexual object in any way? A woman being naked just for herself, instead of putting on a performance of sexuality, is hard to find. I’d say Lena Dunham is the closest we’ve got, and my goodness does she make people uncomfortable with her unapologetic, non-sexual nakedness.
Our lack of real-life, non-sexual nakedness makes us all feel Less Than. Women have become obsessed with “fixing” the endless ways in which their bare faces and bodies are wrong, and we are constantly aware of the sexual performance that is expected of us. When we fail at any of the above (and we constantly feel like we are failing), there is shame.
Have you ever seen a toddler look ashamed of her body? No, it’s impossible. She’s all like LOOK AT MY BELLY HAHHAHAHAHA! People smother her little body in love, and she knows in her little heart of hearts that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. The feeling of wrongness doesn’t come until later, when her psyche forms enough to realize that there are in fact hundreds, if not thousands, of things wrong with her, including the fact that she owes it to people to be sexy. Each of us is born with an inherent sense of belonging and rightness in our physical form; it’s our birthright. That sense gets snatched away however, and can disappear for years, or decades, or even your whole life, if you let it.
So to this end, I am reclaiming my own sense of rightness, and getting naked. In high school I used to say if I ever got married I was going to have a nudist wedding. I’ve always wanted to join a nudist colony, because I think the freedom experienced there would be spectacular. But now I think maybe my obsession with nakedness will serve another purpose: to bring more awareness to body love and acceptance into the world.
My inherent desire to be naked and free in public may have been burning for a long time, but it’s still terrifying. I know some people won’t understand, and won’t approve. I know I’ll probably lose followers for this. After all, the only people who get naked willingly in a public fashion are either “asking for it,” or making a statement. I suppose I fall in the second camp, but I wish it didn’t have to be such a statement. I wish me getting naked on the internet didn’t warrant a whole explanation and discussion, but this is where we are right now. I’m simply saying: there’s nothing to hide here. Our naked bodies shouldn’t freak people out.
As a quick aside, I am staying within the legality and social media rules of covering my actual private parts; as much as I want to #freethenipple, I’m not willing to risk losing any of my accounts. I’m using filters on the photos, because it makes them seem more “artistic” and less “soft-core porn.” And I’m doing yoga poses because I think that best demonstrates the rightness of my body as a life-force. There will undoubtedly be more where this came from, as time goes on.
Also, I’m aware that many people will look at these photos and say I have beauty-privilege: that because my body fits society’s standards of fit or beautiful, that I am “allowed” to get naked. But please know, it’s not about that. I’m still afraid, even as I’m about to press “publish” that you won’t understand, and that you’ll judge me as “not good enough.” I’m afraid you’ll write me off as not “real enough,” and most of all I’m afraid that you’ll ignore everything I’ve said and sexualize it.
But luckily those fears pale in comparison to my trust that this is important; that you’ll be kind, you’ll listen, you’ll discuss, and you’ll share. It’s just a naked body, and I’m sharing it with you out of love.
I hope that by sharing, you will feel inspired today to let go of some of the layers that you hide your true Self behind. I hope that by baring my heart and body openly, without shame, you will start more discussions about why we all feel the need to hide. Because there is nothing wrong with you that needs fixing or hiding. Our naked bodies are all fundamentally, inherently, and eternally right, and I challenge you to stop running from them. #getmorenaked