Recently, I ended up naked in front of a full-length mirror. It was an accident. Seriously, it was. I don’t walk around naked that much. Anyway, there I was, naked, in front of this mirror. And for some reason, I took a long moment, just to look. And it was weird. Because it occurred to me that I never do that. Which I guess is actually pretty normal. But the weird part was that I didn’t really know my own naked body. It was vaguely familiar, of course. I mean, I do take showers and stuff. But I almost never pay attention to it, except to give it some unhelpful critique or be surprised by how chubby it’s gotten in certain places. Actually, ever since I gained some weight, I’ve wanted to be naked even less. Especially when there’s no immediate sex involved. Standing in front of the mirror, I had a small epiphany. I should get to know my naked body. I should get good at being naked. Actually, everyone should. If I was a dictator, I’d mandate daily naked time. And free healthcare for all! And cake! But mostly naked time. Why? Here are some reasons…
1. This is you. Under all those clothes, this the way you actually look. The rest is a disguise. Isn’t it weird not to know your own naked body? It’s kind of weird. Sometimes I feel like I’m mostly a brain, and then there’s this body attached. This body that inevitably looks disproportionate in photos. This body that decided to get abruptly curvy recently, but which had before been kind of bony. My body seems less a wonderland, as John Mayer might sing, and more a mysterious wilderness that occasionally sprouts a strangely placed hair like a flag, thus declaring its eternal independence. But no matter how separate from your body you feel, you are your body. And it is you. You’re this weird body/brain combination—like some hybrid alien creature– no, like a person. So you should get to know yourself. Naked.
2. It’s more fun. I have been known to feel a little awkward about being naked. Like, sometimes if someone else is around but for some reason I have to change, I do that squirmy-inside-the-clothes dance that usually results in either a new outfit or me falling on my face in the locker room at the gym. But how much more fun is life when you feel good about being naked? A lot, I’m willing to bet. Not that you have to whip everything off in front of some strangers, but it’s better not to have to worry about them seeing something unflattering. How much more fun is it to feel like your naked body is flattering? SO MUCH MORE FUN.
3. Sex. This is a big one. And it’s better when you like the way you look naked, when you know what you look like naked, and so it’s not shocking, and when you are comfortable being naked. Otherwise, it can be really, really awkward. It can be “please just turn off the light before I take this robe off” awkward. It can be “wait, do you have a flashlight so I can find my way back to my robe” afterwards awkward. I hope it’s never that awkward.. But sex can definitely get pretty un-amazing when you’re worried about your body. And your body definitely has to be (at least relatively) naked for sex. For amazing sex, body confidence is an absolute necessity. And I’m assuming we all want to have amazing sex? Right? OK, good.
4. Clothes. The better you feel naked, the better you’ll feel in clothes. Because clothes won’t just be about hiding things, they’ll be about celebrating things. I want my clothes to be a celebration. Is that asking too much of them? I think not!
5. Because it’s there. Like Everest. But a lot less dangerous and snowy. I mean, mine isn’t snowy. If yours is, that’s totally fine. Our bodies are challenging, though. They’re complicated and disobedient and sometimes they feel like they need to be tamed. Sometimes they are an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Climbed, if you will. Like Mount Everest. Or maybe they just need to be appreciated more. That’s what I really think. So a little less like Mount Everest and a little more like a puppy. It just needs attention! Give it love and attention and it will reward you with feelings of happiness and comfort. And sex appeal.
6. Your body “flaws” won’t be as shocking. I was shocked to notice that I have back fat. It must have crept up on me. The other day I was typing on my laptop in a towel, right after showering, and I leaned back in my chair and caught a glimpse of my back in the upright mirror by the table. Oh, the horror that awaited me there! Was that a ROLL? As in, a cinnamon roll or some other doughy pastry? On my back? Why, God, why? Because that’s what happens when you’re not really skinny and you have skin on your back, apparently. It would not have been so shocking if I typed in the (partial) nude more often. Or just knew my naked body better. Then I would’ve been like, “Yep. Back fat. It’s a fact.” That reminds me—I’m totally craving a cinnamon roll. Those things are good.
7. You’ll know your real sizes. My boobs are generally a lie. I’m wearing a padded bra all the time. When I’d just started dating my husband, I had this horrible realization that the first time he saw me without a bra, he might be … underwhelmed. Or downright offended. “False advertising!” He was fine, but it made me think about the dramatic difference between my clothed and naked boobs, and I wondered why I was afraid of having breasts that were, um, the actual size of my breasts. Why am I afraid of that? Maybe in part it’s because I’m so unused to it. The unknown is scary. But my boobs don’t have to be unknown. I just have to take off my bra, and there they are. Like magic.
8. You’ll feel more comfortable in general. If you can walk around your apartment naked and happy, walking across a room in clothes is probably a piece of cake. If you can eat a piece of cake naked and happy (this might be my ultimate goal, in life), then you can definitely do anything. Liking yourself naked is liking yourself exposed, flawed, complicated, and undone. If you can like yourself like that, you can face the world proud and naked! Or just proud. With the confidence of a confident naked person.
So … do it! Stand naked in front of a mirror for a while. Do this more than once. Try walking around naked. Possibly eating cake. Have sex with the lights on, and take time to admire your own body in action. This is not totally self-absorbed, it’s healthy and good for everyone. You could even try naked yoga. I have not gone that far, but it doesn’t mean you can’t surpass me. Go ahead, I dare you, surpass me!