My trip to Miami remains my most lavish. A luxurious Ocean Suite Room at the 5* Fontainebleau Hotel. A balcony overlooking Miami Beach, a mini bar I couldn’t afford to open, and one large bed with views to the bathroom. The suite styled for couples, meant the bathroom didn’t prioritise privacy. I could watch my constantly naked friend lather in the wave pool tub. Does being naked influence body image?
Not growing up in a naked house
Taking my clothes off with a person I’m about to become intimate with, doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Body fears and insecurities subside while passion roams and anticipations linger. Once a person has seen me naked and partaken in sex, there’s little left to worry. I remember the first guy I loved, naturally wanted to look at me without clothes and when it came to removing my underwear, I anxiously held back.
He eventually said “stop worrying”. Friends in school didn’t talk about their bodies unless announcing their first PMS, discussing a new diet or shaming an area of body fat. My sister grew up confidently au naturel whereas I hid and wrapped my body in a towel heading for a shower. My parents hadn’t a clue my spine twisted 70 degrees aged 10. I wasn’t naked enough around them.
Can growing up naked influence body image? Caroline O’Donoghue writing for The Pool, shares her experience being bought up in a naked house. Not being hesistant to cover her body gave her better comfortability. Donoghue’s piece references a study by Goldsmith’s University, noting their research found “people who engage in “naturalist” tendencies are far happier.”
Nakedness as a sin
Ruth Barcon, Associate professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, wrote a fascinating essay on “the naked truth on nudity”. She mentions how Adam and Eve in Christianity helped shape the concept of nudity as both innocent and sinful. Barcon explores how nudity impacts society and the changing ideas on how we value nudity.
Female celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski, face criticism for posting their bodies on social media in various forms of undress. I’ve noticed women receive harsher comments compared to men who often post flexing without shirts. On my piece I Am More Than Female Stereotypes, I argue women are classically labelled in one judgement box depending on initial assumptions. For instance, a woman with many bikini photos on Instagram is attention seeking and focuses purely on aesthetics.
When a man cheats or dates a younger woman, the younger woman gets described as a sexually alluring gold digger. She somehow uses her sexual power to control the man. But when it comes to sex and expressing sexuality, a woman is apparently wrong to crave sex as equally. She’s a vixen and “innocent” combined. Women sometimes get blamed for their own sexual assault due to not wearing enough clothes. Additionally, they can be at fault for not dressing suitably enough for a man to take them seriously. This all factors towards how women perceive their naked bodies.
Being naked influence body confidence – social media
Throughout the past few years, plastic surgery has risen and specifically labiaplasty – bucking the “designer vaginas” trend according to The Independent. More and more women confess to not feeling confident in their skin and compare themselves to bodies on social media. Studies suggest nudism makes us happier and maybe there’s truth to that.
I cannot imagine myself ever as a full-blown nudist, however I admit to noticing positive body thoughts when I’m embracing the physique I have. I believe women are bombarded with pictures of unclad models on every form of technology. They don’t look at themselves enough naked, leading to uncertainty about their bodies and fixation on others. We know many online photos go through filter and editing, yet we admire regardless.
Considering the question – does being naked influence body image – aspects to debate include the porn industry and “sexting”. Should you feel liberated for not being afraid to showcase the most natural part of you, or should you feel shameful and dirty for accepting an idea of low self-respect? Does it depend on how you put forth your body? Whether you opt for a moody boudoir or simply put a camera up close to your butt as you film yourself performing squats? Does it even matter if you’re naked for yourself or for audiences of men?
I’ve posed for photographers in lingerie and sent ex boyfriends sexual selfies of myself. The self-esteem boost lasted for a few minutes, till I got home and found “body flaws” to dislike. And then of course, there’s the images you think are sexy at the time, which soon seem embarrassing. Being naked can influence body image. But we have to remove the stigma, allow ourselves to get comfortable with our shapes and initiate honest conversations with friends.
How comfortable are you with nudity? The Blurred Lines of Feminism and Nudity is a great post to read as a follow up.