I utilize nudity as a means of self-acceptance. I love traipsing around in my underwear and showing the world my hard-earned body positivity, represented in my cute jiggly butt and my unapologetic thighs. But I haven't always felt this way. Thanks to years of body image issues and sexually-traumatic experiences, I was rarely comfortable in my own skin, let alone comfortable with the idea of showing my body to others. With the aid of nude photos, revealing clothes, and the help of some wonderful body pos friends, I've come a long way.
Unfortunately, it's not likely that everyone in your life is going to be on board with the idea of fostering a loving space for your body image breakthroughs and celebrations. I've been shamed countless times for sharing my nudes publicly and promoting taking nude photos on the Internet. I've been shamed in my own home for walking around in knickers, and told that my body is disturbing by someone who ironically sometimes wears even less clothes than I do. These moments — these breaches in my body pos journey — can be incredibly triggering.
I don't doubt that many folks who perceive empowerment in nudity have experienced this, too (I'm looking at you, Kim K). Such belittling and criticism are wrong, though, and I'm sorry to anyone who's been through it. So here are some things to keep in mind if ever you're shamed for your nudity.
1. Your Nude Body Is Not Offensive
Despite what slut-shaming, fatphobic media might lead you to believe, there is absolutely nothing offensive about your naked body (or your body in all its forms). You have a right to embrace your nudity in how you dress, in the photos you take, and in the time you spend alone without feeling any kind of stigma for it.
I have a roommate who is extremely offended by my walking around our shared apartment in my underwear, and won't hesitate to tell me she finds my body "disturbing." As a sensitive human who has taken years to love their body enough not to cover up, this harsh disapproval stings. And her incessant vocalizing of this discomfort makes me feel ashamed of the damage I can allegedly cause with my body alone. There are a variety of reasons for why someone might feel uncomfortable with nudity, from their upbringing to their spiritual beliefs to their internalized misogyny. But if the problem is their perception of your body in an aesthetic sense, then you shouldn't have to make sacrifices that might compromise your happiness.
In situations like these, it's important to remind yourself that your body does not have the power to disturb. Remain sensitive to the needs of others if nudity or nude photos are triggering to your friends and relatives (including those who may have a past of abuse or who are dealing with body image insecurities of their own). In those cases, consider speaking to the person calmly, expressing that nudity is something that empowers you and is essential to your wellbeing. Perhaps ask them if you could compromise by utilizing partial, rather than more full-on, nudity for a while. But if getting triggered isn't the issue at hand, and the commentary you're receiving is purely about your body being unappealing, or being deemed "inappropriate" or "slutty," then screw that. Try to ignore the haters, and don't change the way you like to dress or the photos you like to take simply because some are threatened by your profound body love.
2. Haters May Have Their Own Body Issues
It's important to remember that a lot of the harsh criticism we may receive about our bodies IRL and over the Internet comes from folks who can't embrace their own bodies fully. Personally, one of the reasons I love showing off my body positivity through nudity is to demonstrate radical self acceptance to everyone around me, so that they might get inspired to inject a little more of that into their own lives.
When I encounter people who respond with strong negative reactions, I know that they likely need my message the most. Perhaps seeing someone who is unapologetically loving of their form forces some to confront their own insecurities about their bodies and identities. Plus, sometimes misogynistic slut-shaming trolls are gonna troll. Try not to take it to heart, though, and keep in mind the misinformed and dark places some of these comments likely come from. After all, you don't need the validation of strangers in order to adore your body, nor do you need their permission to love yourself openly.
3. Nudity Is A Valid Form Of Body Positivity
Taking nude photos and becoming more comfortable with my naked form has helped me heal from the experiences that caused me to develop a negative relationship with my body in the first place. Odds are your hater isn't aware of your relationship with your body. Your nudity might be interpreted as something employed with the purpose of offending, shocking, or even attracting attention.
You can tell your hater otherwise if you feel that they might hear you out, but you have no obligation to share sensitive details about yourself with those producing judgment. It's your journey, right? Keep in mind that nudity could be essential on your path towards empowerment (if that is the case), and abandon any concern over trying to make others understand your reasoning if it's just not going to happen.
4. Negative Comments Made By Others Cannot Take Away Your Power
Hearing negative feedback about something as vulnerable as your body and your efforts to feel more at home in that body can have the potential to throw your whole day out of whack. Sometimes when we feel our body image is under attack, we may despair in the idea that we've somehow taken a few steps back in our recovery from hating our bodies. But that doesn't have to be true.
Comments made and judgments passed about your nude body will probably hurt, and that's OK. But nobody can take all of the progress you've made in loving yourself away from you. You will feel comfortable wearing bikinis again. You will feel comfortable taking sexy selfies again. Hateful words are only temporary. Just remember to go harder than usual on your self care routine while recovering from questionable comments by spending time with your nude body or pampering yourself with a new sheet mask.
5. Your Body Is Beautiful
The criticism I receive for the unapologetic way in which I love my body sometimes reminds me of the ways in which my body is different from others, and how that might make me less conventionally beautiful. Particularly regarding the most recent incident of body shaming in my life, I was hurt by the double standard that allows some bodies (read: more toned bodies with less hair on them) to exist with endless amounts of their skin exposed, while my jiggly ass and pube-covered bikini line have to stay covered up.
Unfortunately, this is still the world we live in: A world where some bodies are prioritized and valued above those considered uglier (or whose nudity is deemed less appropriate). Such double standards for beauty are especially thrust upon fat bodies, bodies of color, trans bodies, and disabled bodies.
But I know that I'm beautiful. I know that I love my jiggly ass and my hairy body, and that those parts of me (as well as many others) are worthy of admiration. I refuse to cover up my body for anyone, and will continue taking nudes and running around in skimpy underwear no matter what anyone says.
Becoming comfortable with your nudity is a huge accomplishment. Never stop celebrating yourself because of an uptight stranger or grouchy Internet troll. Besides nudity having the potential to make you feel amazing, it'll likely spread that same feeling of body positivity to everyone around you (at least nine times out of 10, anyway).
Images: Meg Zulch