Is body positivity possible? Can a “normal” average woman feel good in her own skin? Can all women experience the feeling of being sexy and appreciated no matter what your current body type is?
The answer to all of these questions is unequivocally yes! It is possible to feel sexy, to feel good in your own skin. And one secret to helping unlock this superpower may just surprise you.
If you want to learn to feel comfortable with your own body, take your clothes off.
“Oh, sure,” you say. “I would take my clothes off if only…
…I lost 30 pounds.”
…I could tone this flab.”
…I didn’t have stretch marks.”
…I had a breast reduction.”
Most women have a laundry list of if onlys keeping us from enjoying the life we want: a life filled with confidence and openness. If only we could be free from our if onlys…
But we can free ourselves.. By taking a leap of faith and taking off your clothes, you can learn the truth about body positivity. The truth that all bodies are beautiful and that you deserve to love the skin you’re in.
This summer I experienced my first taste of real, authentic body positivity when I went to a “clothing optional” beach. You don’t know me, so you probably are thinking to yourself “Sure, she feels comfortable getting naked because she’s probably young and supermodel thin.”
But that is so not true! I’m not a supermodel. I’ve given birth and nursed several babies and I have the extra pounds, stretch marks, and sagging breasts to show for it. I was incredibly nervous to take my clothes off, but I went to the beach and I got naked. When I looked around, I was shocked at what I didn’t see. I didn’t see what you always see at the beach: the uncomfortable moms trying to cover their midsections or their bikini clad tops with their arms; I didn’t see a bunch of women trying to hide their perfectly normal bodies.
What I did see was men and women of all body types, relaxed and enjoying themselves. Naked people of all different shapes and sizes were talking and laughing with their friends, their partners, even total strangers in a free and laid back environment.
While my husband and I felt a little awkward the first time that we visited a nude beach, we timidly walked onto the sand, found a spot to set up, and nervously took off our clothes. We did all the things you do on the beach: chatted with each other, read our books, and in general took in the environment around us. In a few short hours, we felt very relaxed and at home, surrounded by dozens of naked strangers.
In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we returned to the beach every morning, removed our clothes and soaked in not only the warmth of the sun, but the warmth of a community. We saw people who were regulars chatting with each other. We even made a friend. We met a fun and friendly gentleman who came every morning for the sunrise like we did. We chatted with him comfortably. And we struck up conversations with the (fully clad) sea turtle nest research team members when they drove through daily checking the nests. Never in my life did I imagine I could have conversations with strangers while naked (especially fully dressed strangers on four-wheelers!)
To be honest, the part that felt the most liberating to me was the conversations with strangers. I’m an introvert, so I don’t strike up conversations with people I don’t know. And when I do have conversations with strangers, I’m always super awkward and uncomfortable. And yet, when I was nude on a beach around dozens of nude strangers, I felt more comfortable talking to people than I ever have before. In fact, my husband even commented on how comfortable I was and how happy it made him to see me being relaxed and comfortable while talking to new people.
The free and fun environment drew us back to the beach at sunrise every day, including the day we were leaving for home. On the last morning, naked and holding hands, we watched a nesting sea turtle make her trek back to the ocean. It was a magical moment that we would have missed had we not found the joy and peace of the nude beach drawing us to get us out of bed early to capture every last bit of enjoyment.
Visiting the nude beach was the first time I had ever been on a beach and felt comfortable with my body. And I was totally naked. How is that possible? How can I feel awkward in a mom approved bathing suit that doesn’t show my flab and stretch marks but feel completely at home nude on a beach around other nude people? I think it is because for the first time, I saw that everyone has a body, equipped with its own beauty and imperfections. No one was hiding behind an image they were trying to craft. Everyone was free to be themselves. Everyone was beautiful. There were certainly women there in every shape and size. And seeing them comfortable in their skin made me comfortable in mine. And that confidence carried over into the “real world”. I found myself more comfortable in many areas.
And really, isn’t that what we want? Women helping women love themselves? Maybe it’s time to stop hiding behind the if onlys of life and take a step in the direction of your dreams and desires. Trust yourself and the women around you to build you up. And build up the women around you.