I am not some weird online “peeping Tina” who uses a secret identity and a scantily-clad persona to get others to show me their naughty bits. Sorry to disappoint you.
I am just a woman who finally liberated herself from the daily abuse of body-shaming.
And, I think you should too.
Four years ago, I visited a nude beach for the first time ever. I arrived at the beach and prepared my bathing station. I laid my towel out. I took my book, sunscreen, water, and snack from my beach bag and formed the empty bag into a sort of pillow to rest my head. The sand was hot enough that day to burn through skin, so I sat down on the towel before removing my sandals.
Bathing station ready. Now time to strip. But how much?
I took at quick look around to assess the nakedness on the beach that day. The first thing I saw was a man the color and form of fried bacon, including all of his bacon bits. I could feel my heart race a little with anticipation and nervousness. “Oh no, no, no—I can’t let anyone see me that naked.”
I continued to scour the beach for boobies, bottoms, and bacon bits—relieved that a relatively small percentage of naturalists were on the beach that day. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I took off my tee shirt, but left my bikini top and shorts on. I dodged a bullet this time.
I put my sunglasses on, sunk into the towel and opened my book. I tried to read, but the lines and words blurred together. In my head I was still replaying the previous five minutes.
In those moments of panic and observation I saw all types of bodies. Male, female—some with booties that “pop.” I saw stomachs that rolled and shook as laughter took over. I saw bodies with so much pubic hair you could comb it, and others who must have gone through a lot of pain to be that silky smooth downstairs.
What shocked me the most was not one of them had a “perfect” beach body—toned from top to toe—and yet they were all comfortable being naked in public.
I compared myself to them: the size of my hips, the small wrinkles forming on my breasts, and my less-than-perfect stomach that had been scarred from surgery. And though, all of these things are unique to me, I could see that I shared many characteristics with others.
We all come equipped with a butt, breasts, legs, and hair. Cellulite is real, and as far as I could see, pretty widespread. I wasn’t the only one with a perfectly imperfect body, but unlike the naturalists on the beach that day, I was the only one ashamed of it.
It took me a few years to ever return to a nude beach. I wasn’t ready to face the shame I had bestowed upon myself. Luckily, my bachelorette party changed all of that.
I spent the morning of the party sailing around Copenhagen and eating lunch by the river, before my biker- babe entourage brought me back to our starting point apartment, to what I thought was a male stripper.
No cheesy costume? Not even a bowtie? Seriously?
“Hi ladies,” he said rather nervously as he fumbled around to open his briefcase.
“Hello,” we answered between tipsy giggles.
“Here it comes,” I thought. The stethoscope, the scrubs. He just needs to get prepared—it’s part of the act.
Instead, he handed me a stack of paper clipboards and pencils, and explained he was a nude model and we well, we were the artists.
Long story short—I model better than I draw.
Yes, that’s right. Nude model.
Whether it was the slight intoxication or not wanting to say no in front of my friends, I accepted the man’s offer to pose beside him, while the others drew sketches of my naked body.
It was exhilarating, to say the least. Liberating. It was like holding your breath until you absolutely had no choice but to gasp, let go, and breath in again. But, most of all, it felt like being seen for the first time.
“See me,” a voice whispered from within. “See me in all my glorious scars, my stretch marks, and my bosoms. See me in my blooming vulnerability. See my skin, my curves, but most of all know I have nothing left to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.”
In that moment of skin, I felt like satin—silky smooth and unbelievably sexy.
Vulnerability is sexy. Confidence is sexy. And being both in spite of your fears? Well, that’s just damn delicious.
My bachelorette party was a memorable success. And, in more ways than one, it marked the end of a chapter in the story of my life.
Fast forward. I am on the beach again. This time in Copenhagen. The sun is scorching and the clock reads just a sliver past nine. If you know anything about Denmark you know that sunny days are about as normal as getting struck by lightning: rare! But, not even this fact was needed as an excuse to strip down to my bare skin.
Because I was no longer concerned, no longer ashamed of my body, I had time and space to engage in the present. I chatted with fellow naturalists and laughed so hard my stomach jiggled. I cannonballed into the cold water and clumsily climbed back onto dry land. I wore my skin with confidence—and it showed.
Pulling back the curtain, allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of others meant being naked. Literally.
The moral of the story is not that you should join a nudist colony or invite friends to naked dinner parties though, on second thought, that would be a most interesting social experiment.
The moral of the story is: underneath the layers of doubt, self-hate, judgement, fear, and worry, we are all the same. We are all just human beings wanting to be heard, loved, and seen for who we are.
Be vulnerable. Let others see you for your scars, your worries, and your fears. It’s about getting comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s about challenging yourself and allowing the adversity to liberate you.
Whether you decide to put a video up on YouTube where you dance to your favourite 90s pop, call a friend and ask for help, or like me, strip down to your skin beach-side—just do something that takes you out of your comfort zone.
If nothing else, I promise you—the “no tan line” is totally worth it.
Author: Megan Stubbe Teglbjærg
Image: Joe Joe/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell