Girl Talk: I’m A Nervous Nude

Writing about body love and acceptance? That’s my jam. Teaching women to embrace their supposed “flaws,” accept that physical beauty comes in infinite forms, and learn to love their own bodies just as they are? My life’s quest. So it is with great trepidation that I reveal the following: I really dislike being naked. I mean, if there’s gonna be a roll in the hay, that’s one thing, but hanging out in the locker room? Sleeping? Just about anywhere except the bathtub? I’d rather have a bare minimum of knickers and a bra.

It took me a long, long time to make peace with my little mound of a belly, but I’m nearly there. I still have my moments of gazing frustratedly at my full upper arms and I still cover my cellulite, but overall I feel like I practice what I preach. I look at my body and see grace and beauty, “imperfections” that make it uniquely mine, and a bounty of health and strength that many people would envy and covet. I love my body for all that it is and all that it does for me and I truly do believe it to be beautiful. Yet, aesthetically its planes and curves are so much more pleasing inside clothes. It works so well with structured garments and draped cloth. Its angles and architecture seem utterly lovely in dresses, cardigans, even just undies … and somehow less so when those garments are absent.

I prefer how my body looks clothed, and I can’t say that I FEEL fabulous naked, either. Intellectually I know that body jiggle is natural and normal, but it makes me feel anxious and self-conscious. I’m also accident prone, easily bruised, and more of a delicate flower than I’d care to admit. Sleeping naked leads to unexplained scratches, sensitive breasts, and restless nights. I never quite learned to luxuriate in the feeling of bare skin against sheets. Or bare skin against air.

All that said, I know this is an issue of control and acceptance, so I’m working on it. (Much to the chagrin of my cats and neighbors.) Since I live in a drafty old house in Minneapolis, summer is the best possible time to practice nudity. No windchill, no frigid floorboards, and abundant atmospheric heat and humidity. At a certain point, my desire to be rid of the sweat-soaked garments clinging to my overheated bod supersedes my desire to be elegantly clothed, and I strip. Forcing myself to cool off in the buff reminds me that being naked needn’t turn me into a mess of anxiety. Being naked needn’t coincide with a scrutiny session in front of the full-length mirror or a nap. Being naked can just mean hanging out at home with the blinds drawn until I return to a non-feverish temperature. It can be a state of serene acceptance of my natural form. It can be fine, if I let it.

And if I don’t, I may end up as a Never Nude. Can’t have that.

Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based blogger, freelance writer, and communications professional who writes the daily style and body image blog Already Pretty.