Previous posts have touched on body image especially the one where I bared it all. But it is a topic that needs a bit more addressing, to be honest. I am very hard on myself, like many of us are. I see myself in the mirror and reflect back to a time when I was thinner. When I do this, it is often with revulsion, again as I spoke to in that post above. We know that any magazine that has pictures of models in them are touched up so much that the model rarely looks completely like themselves. We watch movies, television, and yes porn and we are forced fed an ideal body type. The rub of it is that you will also see PSA after PSA that talks about how we need a better body positivity. That we need to stop body shaming people and learn to embrace our differences, they expect us to do this when Hollywood and the media paints those advertisements with thin beautiful people. How can we learn when what we are being given still rings of the problem?
Here is a bigger flip. I love being nude whenever I can, that is the honest truth. When I leave from work, all I can think of is how I will soon be home and I can strip out of my clothes and just be free. Much to my roommate’s dismay, if they found out, I walk, lay around, and do housework nude as often as I can. That doesn’t mean that I am comfortable being naked around them, that is a harder part. However, the nudist lifestyle does appeal to me a lot, but what I dislike about it is their quiet form of body shaming. Oh sure, I see nudists messaging me now, leaving comments saying that I am out of line and that isn’t the case. They will continue to express that they are accepting of all body types, people, and sexualities. Then there will be the argument that naturists are much more accepting. Before I get to the differences, lets finish this up and end with an experiment. If they are so accepting, they why is the majority of the marketing and advertising out there only showing those of a thinner body type? Here is the challenge… Google Nudist and Naturist. Look at the first 100 images for each and notice the body types that pop up. Just from looking you can see that at least 60-70% of the images are of younger fit people. Sure, I get it sex sells, but that feeds into the stigma of body shaming.
Indeed, there are differences between the two terms, naturist and nudist. But that can also depend on who you ask, so let’s clarify by the common differences. A Naturist is one who pursues it as a lifestyle choice. It is a spiritual and health choice. They go to resorts, spend time in nature, and their daily life naked. A nudist is one that primarily hangs around in the nude, at home and doesn’t go for the deeper connections, typically. Nudist also tends to have a more negative connotation. In effect, the terms are often interchangeable, depending on the people. ““[Naturism] is about creating situations where there is psychological, emotional equality between people and you can’t do that if one person is dressed and the other is nude,” Stephane Deschenes, a nudity law expert at the University of Toronto told theCBC in 2016, according to an article on CottageLife.com.
There have been more pushes to include more body positive messages in these two lifestyles, but just from the few groups I follow on Twitter, it still sways heavily to the side of thinner body types. Why is there still the stigma around it? The same kind of questions could be asked why is there still a stigma around the ideal of Naturist/Nudist. We are taught at an early age that the body isn’t to be shown publicly, at least in most of the world. Our parents may let us run around naked as children, but as we grow, we realize that those actions are only in our own house and we start to develop the mindset that it must not be accepted. If our parents are the first influence that tells us we aren’t a baby anymore and must wear clothes, we wonder why. Is the body to be feared, is it shameful? Just about every, if not all, states in the United States have decency laws that prohibit and punish public displays of nudity. Sure San Francisco has the Folsom Street Fair and California has no laws for public nudity unless it is a lewd act. And most states laws are vague on what public nudity really is, they revolve around not exposing yourself as a means to lure someone into a sexual at, no forms of masturbation or public sex are included. For most naturists/nudists, being without clothes is not meant as a sexual nature, and therefore only vaguely fit into otherwise vague laws the sad part is that in almost every state it is illegal to be naked on your own property if it is in view of anyone else.
This combined with an upbringing that tells you how bad it is showing your body in public, make it very difficult to view yourself in a positive light. And yes, we are surrounded by so much media that changes ideals of what is beautiful by the minute there is no way to compete. That is completely fine, you shouldn’t compete. Everybody is different, just as every person is different. For me, it has been helpful to get naked and stand or sit in front of the mirror and just look at myself. It’s hard not to pass judgement, but instead I try to find things or parts of my body that I do like. For example, I have nice calves, decent upper arms, great eyes, and awesome hair. I don’t qualify those remarks, I simply state that they are good. The first few times I did this, I felt absolutely silly, but it has caused a subtle shift. I don’t have to like every part of my body, the stretch marks, the belly, and whatever else. Not liking them is completely fine, they do not define myself worth and they shouldn’t yours either.
Remember to be honest with yourself but don’t be shady. If you have stretch marks from childbirth, be proud of the fact that you carried a life inside you and brought it into the world. It is an amazing thing and remember there are those who cannot have those stretch marks you despise. We all hate getting on that scale and seeing it spin around a couple hundred times before it comes to rest on the number that ruins our day. Why do we allow ourselves to have anxiety over it? It is only a number and the truth behind it is that it only shows our relationship to gravity, not our own worth. If you choose to take on an exercise plan to modify the weight, do it because it will make you healthier, not the mindset it will make you more attractive to others. That is only setting yourself up to fail. If it is an illness, disability, or whatever making you feel that way, know that it does not equal you being weaker than another person. The fact you struggle daily with how you feel only shows your character and strength.
This is not an article that will tell you how to fix yourself, its only showing you that there are other ways to view things. You are a beautiful person, on your own. If you are with someone who isn’t valuing your worth, then they are not worthy of you. This is why the previous articles of self-care are important. Learn your value and your worth. Do not let them be limited by judgements others place on you or by what they deem attractive. It does start with you.