Why I’m Getting Naked On The Internet

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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I am passionate about helping women learn to love their bodies, but loving your body as a woman in our culture isn’t easy, as you know.

That’s why I created the Body Image Alchemy Blueprint:

to help women explore and address the actual blocks that get in the way of truly loving and accepting yourself. If you want to love and accept your body no matter how it looks, but don’t know where to start, this course is for you.

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  • Gillmy

    Good for you!! The naked body is the body as it is. And body positivity starts with ourselves. I congratulate you and stand with you.

    • Jessi Kneeland

      Thank you!! <3 Your support is awesome!

  • Peggi

    Well said! I like your attitude and aspirations 🙂 OH, and I just realized I seem to be hiding behind an “icon” instead of the real me … that will be my first step in your direction.

    • Jessi Kneeland

      Haha amazing!! One step at a time! 🙂

  • Kayla Ferguson

    You are amazing. Your genuine vulnerability and honesty is something that society completely overlooks. You are so beautiful and your freedom in yourself is apparent in every one of these photos. I think more women should get naked on the internet.

    • Jessi Kneeland

      Thank you so much for reading and your kind words!! <3

  • Faye Colaço

    Awesome post!!!!! More women need to think this way, thank you for writing xx

    • Jessi Kneeland

      Thank you for reading and commenting!!

  • Miss Jay

    I’m really not a serial commenter, in fact I’ve maybe commented on one other blog post or article in my life. But I feel compelled to write this because although I may not relate to the compulsion to get naked (yet?!), I can 100% relate to your outright and heartfelt honesty. This is quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever read- so genuine and from the heart and not beating around the bush in any way.

    My goodness lady you are an inspiring force and I applaud you from the bottom of my heart. Not only are you beautiful physically, but you have bared your soul and have proven yourself to be one awesome human being!

    I found you randomly on Instagram a few months ago and I am ever so glad I did! I’m aspiring to some level of body acceptance, and I hope one day I reach the point where I can honestly say that I love my body. In the mean time, I’ll continue to seek people like you that help people like me reach the holy grail that is body positivity!

    You keep doing you!

    • Jessi Kneeland

      Oh Miss Jay. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your words hit me deeply… this is why I write. I am so grateful that my words are finding their way into the minds and hearts of people like you. <3

    • Samantha Lilliana McNeel Leigh

      I absolutely love this! Body image is so much to some people, but in reality people should love what they have. Embrace what you are blessed with. So thank you for a great message!

  • Excellent article ma’am. I am a long time nudist myself.

  • BTW, “Nudest Colony” is an outdated term. 🙂

    • Allan Hill

      Surely you mean naturist club.

  • Chelsey Dickinson Beda

    Be free! You are doing it respectfully, and as your name suggests being a good role model. You are very, very brave. This is a whole new territory!

  • blaine

    Awesome pics. You can be a pornstar. Really sexy body. Good luck Jenna yogi Jameson.

    P.S. I didn’t read the text. Didn’t have time.

  • Heather O

    So much strength here! Love.

  • This is amazing. I’m so impressed that you’ve listened to your desire to be naked and hope one day I’m able to cultivate the courage you demonstrated in this post. You have my support and respect.

    • David Evans

      I can sort of understand where you are coming from, only in reverse. My late wife passed last year from cancer. I put on 85 pounds sitting with her 24 hours a day and people bring sweets instead of food.I am now battling to get it back down and it is very hard because I still miss my wife and cannot get enough energy or what ever to get to work.

  • James Bolduc Cscs Cissn

    Extremely interesting read… I read a couple of your articles and I see you write a lot about female body image and empowering oneself. I definitely support your idea of getting people (especially women) comfortable in their own bodies. I have certain female clients that come to mind after having read this. I’m going to forward the article to them, I think they could benefit a lot from your content.The article really puts you in a position of leadership, sort of as a role model, for many women to be able to look up. Getting naked on a blog is not an easy thing to do lol. Keep up the great writing!

  • I have to admit, I’m not comfortable with the nakedness of others. It has nothing to do with body size or shape or trying make anyone feel unworthy. I just feel that some things should be kept private (please note I said private, not hidden). I don’t believe the world needs to know, or see, everything about a person. The desire to be naked in public is not something I understand.

    That being said, I will not judge you for it. We are all different and that is why I love living so much. We come across a variety of people with a uniqueness all their own throughout our lives. I appreciate your candor, and bravery.

  • Mike Waldrop

    Jessi, I know I am a guy and most guys are exactly how you stated them in the article, but I am not. I have been a nudist for 18 years and love the lifestyle and believe and think very much in the way you look at life and how we all should live it compared to what society tries to dictates on us. I love going to nudist resorts, nudist colonies and nude beaches and love living life in the most natural form possible. Nudism has also allowed me to become a very active person again after the accident i suffered when i was 24. From the time I was 17 to 24 i was a champion downhill skier and loved skiing until I had a accident that almost took my life and my ability to walk but 2years after my accident with the help of a very special woman and great doctors I was able to walk again and the very special woman introduced me to nudism and nudism allowed me to rehab much more quickly and to make great new friends, many of which I am still close friends with today. Sadly, I lost Nicki to terminal cancer 6 years ago but I am still a nudist to this day.

    Anyways, i just wanted to say you are a great person for feeling the way you are and hopefully for shedding light on the fact that living naturally and completely nude is the best way to live life. If you ever want to chat you can find me on yahoo and facebook 🙂 Hope to chat with you more about nudism and natural living.

  • jennifer

    this is wonderful! I’ve also always felt being naked was (duh) natural and wonderful, and tried to resist the message that said I should be ashamed of my body.

  • Alcor

    I want to accept what you’re saying, but it’s true — you *are* what society wants. Your photos there are works of art. Your body is everything I want and nothing I can have. I love being naked, but I see your look as what a pristine human looks like. No amount of fluffy positive words will make me think I am any more than a 5/10, put humorously. I want to be seen as sexy — I’m sure you already are, no wonder you are dodging it. Men must fall over themselves trying to be with you. But in the end, would you be as confident if you didn’t look like a fitness model?

    • Jessi Kneeland

      That’s a really great question, and something I think a lot about. Ultimately I have no idea what it feels to be in someone else’s shoes, and sometimes I wonder: is it more noble to love yourself when you don’t fit society’s standards?

    • Maria

      I come from a culture where seeing naked people is more or less normal, though (apart from TV) it’s usually single-sex. But among friends (like university students) it’s not unusual to have for example mixed saunas. I have to add that nudism has never been popular here and you don’t really see women topless, either. It’s just we don’t think that nudity is such a big deal because we are used to it in certain situations where it makes sense.

      My body is not perfect, and actually it kind of helps me to get naked in a mixed company because I tend to think that my male friends won’t find me sexy in any way. (However, if I am totally honest, I think I have a body that many men would prefer so that might give me more confidence than if I were more overweight than I am now. I might be a bit though my curves hide it well.)

      But my point really is that when I am naked, I certainly don’t want to be seen as sexy because the situation is never sexual in the first place (I’m not counting any private time with a partner). Being seen as sexy would make me uncomfortable.

      • homeclothesfree

        This is a super great point which is not made in society very often. There is nothing inherently sexy about the unclothed body. That is just a result of social conditioning much of which is responsible for the epidemic body same that exists. This posts contributes to reclaiming a positive non sexual view of the naked clothes free body

  • Lucien Dumouchel

    Excellent , I am male , but I absolutely love your comments / approach to life , I was at a Naturist Park in Canada for the 1st time this summer and within 30 seconds of being there felt the most comfortable I have ever felt in my entire life . I kick myself in the derriere for not doing this 40 years ago , the people were so friendly and welcoming , never felt out of place for 1 second , expect when registering at the office and I still had clothes on . It is an experience I think everybody should go through , nobody judges anybody because of what they are wearing , you see the person as a person , within seconds of being there I did not even see naked people , I just saw people , people that I had something in common with . Thank you very much for your article , there are so many things in here that you mention that I feel exactly the same way about .
    Take care , have a happy life .

  • Unconstitutional Arkansas

    Spot on with every word! Thank you for this amazing article!

    To anyone who is willing, please help Arkansas get out of the Dark Ages with regard to nudity/nudism. It is a crime in this state to even “advocate” (i.e. talk about) nudism. Visit UnconstitutionalArkansas.org for details.

  • Andrea Nicholas

    I so resonate with this! I live in a tropical climate and, while I’m naked 99% of the time at at home, I wish that cultural standards allowed us to be more free outdoors as well.

    Thank you for sharing your naked truth, haha!

  • pastordavidrn

    Great article! I’m a Christian pastor with 34 years of seeing nudity as an RN—24 of them in L&D. I’ve often felt like a lone prophet preaching “body acceptance.” Believers are often stereotyped as prudes, but I find many are open to the kind of logic you’ve shared. In fact, one of my many essays about nudity got published on a blog of my ministerial peers: “Embracing Nakedness–Adopting God’s View of Bare Anatomy” (Google it). If I get a little “hot” on this issue, it’s because our nation’s porno-prudish “body shame” is destructive to society and dishonoring to our Creator.

  • Malcolm Tearsii

    You have a good physique. You could do fitness competitions (if you haven’t already). My company does competition prep as well as in home personal training and online personal training via e-mail and video conferencing check us out http://www.eliteinhomepersonaltraining.com

  • that picture of you as a little girl on the dock is 100% evidence that this resonates with your true self!

  • Reg Harman

    Hi Jessi. My wife and I have often visited naturist clubs, beaches, etc. There is a greater acceptance of people as people. I often lift weights naked and I do feel more comfortable and generally manage an extra rep or two. Stretching, yoga, whatever, all seem a better experience when nude. Enjoyed your article, Reg 🙂

  • I’m so glad I found this again! I like the points you make, many are similar to what I think on the subject, but have yet to blog about. I was particularly surprised by the study showing people are attracted to the types of bodies most commonly encountered.

  • Jivansutra

    Public nudism is a crime, not in some states of U.S.only, but in many parts of the world also. We can’t convince everyone that nudism is not bad at all. In our thinking, as we live in a free society, there shouldn’t be any restriction over the actions which are limited to oneself and which don’t harm others. But in opinion of others, there should be some decorum in conduct on public places, which uphold the least dignity of a person. http://www.jivansutra.com