“Being naked, I feel like I have nothing to hide behind, literally and metaphorically.”

It took me a long time to write this. This was partly because I wasn’t sure if my feelings about being naked made sense in the context of this project. I have never really liked how I look, but it isn’t really to do with my body from the neck down, but (to put it bluntly) my face. So what could I say about being naked? But I know I often feel uncomfortable being naked, even on my own, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I read the wonderful and brave posts here and tried really hard to think about how I feel about my body. It was difficult. Writing this down is an attempt to clarify my incoherent thoughts.

I have an OK body. I have always been quite skinny, thought that brought with it its own dissatisfactions, especially when I was younger (namely, I wanted bigger boobs!). I do worry about putting on weight, though it’s mainly because I feel it goes straight to my face, which I know is irrational. But I wouldn’t ever say I “love” it, perhaps because on bad days I feel disconnected from everything, including my own body. I am trying really hard to love it – to be happy with the way I look in general – and sometimes, when it helps me dance all night, or carry heavy bags of shopping all by myself, I do, just because I realise how lucky I am to be young and healthy and to be able to do everything I want to.

But to my feelings on nudity. This is the conclusion I reached: I hate being vulnerable, whether it is exposed flesh or exposed feelings. And somehow over the years, nudity for me has become intertwined with emotional vulnerability. Being naked, I feel like I have nothing to hide behind, literally and metaphorically. I am protective of my body, scared of letting anyone – friends, men, the mirror – that close. I can never be proudly naked, never embrace it completely. There’s always a part of me casting about for something to cover myself with. I don’t stand up straight. I find that the more protective I become of my feelings, the more shut away my body feels.

Maybe this is a ridiculous, clichéd parallel to draw. I’m not sure. I definitely don’t think I’m explaining myself that well. I also worry that I am coming across as a repressed prude, which I’m not. I love sex and have had wonderful naked experiences with people who made me feel comfortable and safe and right in my own body, with my own nudity. And not just because they liked the way I looked naked, but because I could trust them with all parts of me. In one case, this trust turned out to be misplaced, which I suppose could have something to do with my protectiveness now.

I don’t want to be like this – I want to love the way I look and the way I am – and I am trying really hard. Because nudity is beautiful, in all its forms, and our bodies are amazing – for what they can do and how they look – as this blog has reminded me. And vulnerability can mean incredible freedom.

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