Being comfortable naked is something I have struggled with my entire life.
I remember first feeling shame towards my body in middle school, when I started comparing myself to other girls around me who began developing earlier than I did. In high school I remember the locker room days of changing bras under my shirt (a time-old trick of shy gals like myself).
As an adult, the shame I felt towards my body showed up in the bedroom when I would demand that the lights were off during intimate moments.
Through years of societal coding, cultural standards and the expectations of those closest to me, I learned that my naked body was something to hide, judge and be shameful of.
But somewhere in the past year or so, I decided that the days of judging myself were over. I decided that I was done feeling ashamed of my body, and that I was going to intentionally confront and recode my beliefs around my body and how I felt about it.
Here’s what I did:
1) I started spending more alone time naked.
First I began sleeping naked. It’s an easy first step and transition. It’s also hella comfortable. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to pajamas. No seam marks, no itching or adjusting. It’s amazing
I started doing more things around the house naked. I even made it a point to look at myself in the mirror naked at least twice a day. I’m talking full observation. I practiced sending love and gratitude to each part of my body and thanking it for all it does for me.
2) I visited a public bathhouse.
This particular spa had areas separated for men and women that included hot tubs, saunas and other treatments. And you have to be naked.
When I walked into the locker room to see a bunch of random women just walking around with everything hanging out, for no other purpose than to feel comfortable and free and get their pores opened up and exfoliated, I was inspired. I felt my script around nudity and body acceptance being rewritten.
3) I got naked with a group of people.
This was the most extreme of the three things I did (and probably the most eyebrow-raising to those reading). But that’s exactly what I did. I stood naked in front of a group of my closest friends, both men and women, while they told me things they loved about my body.
This wasn’t just a, “Hey friends, do you mind if I stand in front of you naked?” type of thing. We’re a small group that meets each week to talk about our goals, challenges and journeys of personal growth.
Each of us was given the chance to stand in front of the group and receive affirmations and gratitude from the others. So there I stood, fully exposed—bold and vulnerable. It was a powerful experience that has moved me further along my path of healing and self-love. Quite a long way from the days of hiding in the locker room corner, huh?
What did I learn through these experiences?
How ridiculously comfortable and natural it feels to be naked in a group of people you know, love and trust.
What other people might love most about your body is the exact area you’ve struggled with or held insecurities. It gives you new areas to love on when you look at yourself in the mirror.
The fears we cook up in our heads over things like this have a tendency to grow well beyond anything that actually comes up when the circumstance is in motion. Love dissolves fear.
I gained huge appreciation for all the different kinds of bodies there are.
I discovered that through honoring my naked body I honor every other woman around me and hold the possibility for her to love and accept herself fully.
I could still stand to be in a room with those I had seen naked and not fixate on the fact I had seen them naked (might be surprising, but people have other things to do in their lives than think about the people they’ve seen naked all day).
The biggest takeaway? I didn’t die.
To the contrary, I’m actually more alive because of these experiences. I don’t have the fears I used to hold onto around my body, holding me back from the fullest and most loving expression of myself.
I can just be me. Bold. Authentic. Beautiful. Just the way I was created.
Author: Sarah Bivens
Editor: Toby Israel