“Somewhere in the past 10 years, I lost my body, but I’m determined to feel comfortable in my own skin again, and I really believe that I will.”

I grew up in a naked house. My Mum, Joyce, was happiest walking around our small flat with no clothes on – or, when my sisters and I would complain that she was ‘embarrassing us’ with her nakedness – a very thin, silk dressing gown that she would rarely bother to fasten. As I got a bit older, I realised that in fact, I too enjoyed that certain feeling of freedom that only seems to come from being completely naked. I used to sit naked with my mum on the seat by the bay window in our flat which looked out onto the street when the moon was high and the streets were quiet. We would listen to Eddie Reader, and my Mum would sometimes talk to me about how my body would change one day.
We talked a lot about puberty and relationships, I think more than most girls my age did with their mothers. At the time I couldn’t have told you why we spoke so often about such things, and I don’t think my mum could have either. I think I understand it now. My mum died when I was 13 years old.

To state the obvious, my life changed a lot after she died. I had to move into a new house with a new woman to look after me. The naked days were over, and I went through puberty and my teenage years without Joyce by my side, reminding me that everything I was experiencing was just what we had talked about when I was younger – nothing unexpected, nothing to be afraid of. I spent my teenage years full of angst about my body – it was fine, even beautiful by conventional standards at times, but I was obsessed with my appearance and terrified of judgement from others.
Today, I am much less concerned with how I look, but my body and i don’t have the same relationship that we once did. This disconnection between me and my body is manifested most strongly where sex and intimacy are concerned. I haven’t had very many sexual relationships, but those I have had have not been particularly pleasurable for me. I can’t help feeling that there’s something I’m missing in sex – when other people talk about the joy they have experienced through sexual experiences I feel jealous because for me, sex was always mostly about trying to enjoy myself with a man, failing, and then enduring sex for the sake of intimacy rather than it being something I really wanted (DON’T WORRY – I REALISE HOW MESSED UP THIS WAS!)

I have learned a lot about consent in the past couple of years, and realised that having sex when I didn’t feel like it for such a long time (most of a 3 year relationship) has left me feeling quite damaged, and definitely out of sync with my body and my desires. The first sexual experience I had with a man where we talked about what we wanted from sex together and maintained that communication the entire time we were being physically intimate was earlier this year, and it was incredible. We were only together for a brief period, but meeting him was really important because it has assured me that I can relate to sex in a positive way.

Somewhere in the past 10 years, I lost my body, but I’m determined to feel comfortable in my own skin again, and I really believe that I will.
Tonight, I sat by the window in my room, completely naked, watching the moon and listening to Eddie Reader.

by an anonymous woman

“We’re so alien to the nude figure here, unless in some perfect representation of the Western ideal, that people think they have the right to judge when they’re challenged with something regular.”

I have a really confused relationship with my body. In some ways, I love it. It works very well, does everything it needs to and that in itself is something to be thankful for. Other days I look at myself and wonder if surgery really could make me look better.

For most my teenage/young adult life, I’ve been around size 16. My parents would bring up my weight with every conversation, it felt like, and at school, I couldn’t even bring myself to stand on a set of scales for a science experiment. I felt so confused when I was younger. I was brought up with my parents telling me that intelligence and creativity were so much more important than make-up and clothes, and I still feel that way, but when you get to a certain age, your physicality becomes an issued whether you want it to or not. I couldn’t understand why my achievements in school or my hobbies wasn’t enough for my parents to be proud of me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and they have supported me so much over the years through thick and thin; and I can see their logic even if I don’t think they’re right. The way they saw it was my unhappiness was down to me feeling “ugly” and not dating guys like every other girl that age, and being skinny would fix that. In my head though, it was always “I am what I am, why should I change for someone that can’t appreciate who I am now? And on top of that, is a man actually the answer to all my woes?” And to this day, I still feel like that. I’m not sure I’d want to date anyone who was held looks in such high regards. Not saying they have to be completely nonchalant, but I’ve always put intelligence before looks, and I’d hope to be with someone that felt the same.

So these days. I’m still the same size. The way I see it, my weight sits mostly in the right places, so I’m curvy as hell. I’ve got a reasonably pretty face and in it’s own way, I own my weight. I’ve made it suit me. I’ve started going to the gym recently, but not really to lose weight, but because studying art does leaving you sitting down for hours on end and I just want to move more. I’m going to say something strange: I’m terrified of losing weight. I’m scared that everything will just head south, or my body won’t firm up and I’ll be this bag of skin. Saying that, if I do, it’s just another change in my body, not the first and won’t be the last, I’m sure.

I really hate the attitude we have towards nudity in this country. When I was 18, i went skinny dipping with a German friend in a lake, which totally changed my views on nudity. I loved it. I loved being liberated from this idea that your body is a sexual organ, instead, your body is a living, moving natural being. Since then, I’ve had a lot less qualms about being naked in front of people, and travelling in Scandinavia has reinforced it for me. The sad thing is, I don’t know if I’ve got the same confidence here. Even last night, I was at a screening of The Room. I love the heckling, but there was one scene where the crowd were shouting “Jabba the Hutt!” because when the main actress leaned over, she had a few rolls, despite being a very normal sized woman. We’re so alien to the nude figure here, unless in some perfect representation of the Western ideal, that people think they have the right to judge when they’re challenged with something regular. I’m not sure if there’s a way that body issues will never exist in the way they do, but I’d be a lot happier if it was something for us, as women, to discover ourselves our feelings and we could remove patriarchy from the whole equation.

– Anon.

“Being naked with other people in a non-sexual way really shows you that the most normal thing about your body is that it’s totally unique and different from everyone else’s.”

I’m really not sure how to begin discussing how my feelings towards my body have changed over the years as I love this blog and want to do it justice and also, until I stopped caring so much about my body, I was really never sure how I should feel. Perhaps “should” in there is a very telling word! While at school I was heavily into sports and trained at least 8 hours a week and as a result was healthy but incredibly skinny (I recently saw a photo of myself at 14 and was quite freaked out by the sight). I did the whole developing thing late and fast. At 15 or 16 I started my periods and went up 3 cup sizes in two months. The boob job jokes were quite flattering at the time but did make me more self-conscious.

This was when I was at the age where you really start to care about your body and are very vulnerable to media and advertising. While I never really attracted anyone of the opposite sex until I was 18, it was when I was 16 that I had more body confidence because since I wasn’t fully developed I had the media ideal figure with boobs but very skinny. Naturally, I stopped sports, started drinking and smoking and developed an adult body so the model-like waif disappeared never to be seen again! That didn’t stop me thinking I should still have it and trying to regain it, even with crazy and very unhealthy diets pills from the US (“if they’re illegal in Europe then they must totally work!” is not a good line of thought). Perhaps this was due to media, my mother’s constant dieting or just me, but I was unhappy with my own body, even though I’ve never been larger than a size 10, and I hated that I could also sense myself judging other women’s bodies and probably making them feel the same! Patriarchy at work I guess…

The biggest change for me was living at uni with no TV, and later no internet, and surrounding myself with only the sort of people I wanted to. After a few years of great friends and increasing amounts of communal nudity I now feel that I am finally comfortable with my body. This nakedness began at solstice and festivals with skinny-dipping and saunas and dancing round fires but I have also had several naked parties with friends in the comfort of private flats (apologies to West Princes St for that time I forgot to shut the blinds!).

I now have smooth legs, hairy armpits, a couple of tattoos and piercings in eh… intimate areas. My body is not small or large but has a little bit of fat all over, ok- maybe a bit more on my belly, and my legs wobble when I walk and I’m totally ok with that. Since I stopped wearing a bra my boobs are considerably bouncier as well! My friend and I even had a fantastic time decorating my new room with our naked bodies and lots of face paints.

One of the things which makes me happiest now is how comfortable I finally am and how liberating it feels! I love being naked!!

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“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.

“I feel proud of my naked body because I can see my mother’s knees, curves and breasts in it … There are so many strong and beautiful women in my family and I am proud to be one of them.”

For me, how I feel about my own nakedness really depends on my mental health and personal wellness. It can vary from time to time. I picture it on a continuum with one side being – extremely.hideous.monster – and the other being something like – foxy.supreme.being -. I don’t ever reach one extreme or the other (thankgoodness!), but I believe having good mental health and balance in life is so crucially important to how we view ourselves, and our place within the wider world. When I’m feeling stressed out and anxious, I look at my body and I see something that’s tired, used-up and in need of repair. I feel heavy, grey and lumpy. I feel fragile and brittle. I see no vibrancy in my skin and no life in my eyes. However, when I’m feeling well-balanced and healthy mentally, I know that I eat better and exercise more often (even without making a conscious effort to do so). So, during those times I feel proud of my body. I feel sexy and strong. I feel soft and alluring. I feel confident.

As I look back on my (nearly) 30 years of life, I remember spending summer days of my early childhood naked, sitting in the grass, playing in my backyard, or skinny dipping in our pool before bedtime — they are all pure, warm and comforting memories. Adolescence for nearly everyone, brings change, insecurity and self-doubt. When I was an adolescent I felt awkward, and for years I hid myself in massive hoodies and XL jeans. I didn’t want anyone to know that I had lumps on my chest, or curves underneath the layers of fabric. I didn’t know how to dress my rapidly morphing figure or have the confidence to try.  I felt safe when I was hidden. I realize now that one of the reasons that I hid myself was because, as a tomboy, it took me a long time to come to terms with what femininity meant, and to find what femininity meant to me. I will never be stereotypically ‘girly’.. and I feel 110% ok with that these days.

When I see myself naked now, for the most part — I feel lucky and proud. I feel lucky because I have come to embrace myself and my body. I have become completely comfortable with myself (most of the time anyway!). I feel lucky because I’ve never hated my body. It works hard for me and I often don’t treat it as well as I should. I’ve abused/mistreated it countless numbers of times and yet, it hasn’t given up on me. I feel lucky because I can see beauty in my body, and I know there are an unimaginable number of women that can’t see beauty in theirs. I’m no longer embarrassed or ashamed of my body – I don’t try to hide it anymore. : ) I feel proud of my naked body because I can see my mother’s knees, curves and breasts in it. I can feel that my skin now reminds me of how hers felt. There are so many strong and beautiful women in my family and I am proud to be one of them.

Two women that have heavily contributed to how positively I feel about my own nakedness are my Mum, and one of my life-long friends, KP.  I am forever grateful to both of them for helping me achieve the level of love and comfort that I feel when I see myself stripped down.

by intheflesh

“This is the story of how I came to love being naked, and how I came to love my body.”

This is the story of how I came to love being naked, and how I came to love my body.

I didn’t always love my body, and there have been plenty of times when I’ve hated it. When I was a teenager I would see all the things I hated about it when I looked in the mirror. I compared myself to the lithe girls in my ballet class whose stomachs were flatter and whose thighs were more slender than mine. I compared myself to the girls at school who were more popular than me. But these were the bodies I saw clothed – and naked I could only compare myself to the toned, polished, photoshopped bodies of the media. And that body – for really, it is only one body that we see in the media – didn’t look anything like mine.

I am a woman of average healthy weight, neither thin nor very voluptuous, and average height, but my body was nowhere to be seen. My breasts, like many women’s, are neither perfectly round nor exactly the same size. My tummy isn’t flat, and it pudges out when I sit down. My bum is big and it isn’t firm like the bums in underwear adverts; it wobbles when I bounce up and down, or run, or dance, or fuck. My thighs are squishy and I have a touch of cellulite. I don’t go to the gym and I love to eat cake, but I try to eat a decent meal or two and I use walking as my main means of transport. My body is normal, but I didn’t know that and so I hated it.

Sometimes I hated it enough to cut its skin in anger at its imperfection. In time, watching scars heal would come to be the first small step towards realising my body’s strength and function. It could make itself new; it could grow new flesh to fill the gaps that I had made. My body wasn’t the perfect body I thought it should be, but it worked.

A little older, a little wiser, and perhaps as a result a lot happier, I left home to go to university in Glasgow when I was eighteen. In the five years that followed, I had myriad wonderful experiences that brought me to loving my body. My degree was in theatre studies, and I became very involved with the theatre society. I hung out with people who were comfortable with their bodies and found myself at parties where people would end up naked in a totally non-sexual way, just hanging out and chatting, drinking and smoking (carefully!). I saw other women’s normal breasts. I saw naked bodies that hadn’t been photoshopped. They were all different and they were all lovely. I could look at another woman’s body and just see everything that was beautiful about it, not pick out the flaws I saw in my own mirror. It made me start to realise that if all of these varied bodies were beautiful, then maybe mine was too.

When I was in my third year, I was cast in a production of Cleansed by Sarah Kane, a role which would require me to be naked on stage. I was honestly quite excited. We all had naked rehearsals together, since everyone had to be naked at some point in the play, and it quickly felt normal to be naked. We were just people not wearing clothes, rehearsing and chatting and laughing as usual. It wasn’t possible to feel shame in this situation; when you’re all naked together it becomes natural. It begins to seem almost strange to get dressed. Once you’re all naked, you wonder what you were worried about. On stage, when I took off my dress, it didn’t cross my mind for a second to wonder if people thought my body was weird or ugly. I was proud that this was my body.

In my final year, I took part in an incredible project called Trilogy. Despite how comfortable I had already begun to feel in my own skin, it still proved to be a transformative experience – in many ways, but especially regarding my relationship to my body. A performance art triptych, the first part of Trilogy culminates in an exuberant naked dance performed by volunteer women of all ages and shapes. Leading up to the performances, we participated in a week of workshops where we eased in to being naked in a completely emotionally supportive atmosphere. I can say without reservation that it was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. To look around a circle of dozens of women and see slim women and big women and women who’ve had children and women who have scars, and to see the beauty in every single one of those bodies, rid me of any last vestiges of hatred for my own. This dancing wasn’t about looking sexy, it was about loving how your body feels when it dances. It was feeling your body wobble and loving it. Absolutely, purely rejoicing in the way your body moves and in its strength and power. I loved every moment.

Since Trilogy, on a couple of occasions I’ve gone with some other women to climb a hill and be naked at its summit. I have found such freedom in moments like that. In being naked I become aware of all the other things about my body apart from how it looks. I can feel the warmth of sunshine on its skin, and the breeze, and the grass. I can make it spin and run and dance and love the way it feels. I can just enjoy being in my body.

I still sometimes catch myself looking in the mirror and comparing my body to perfection. But I push the thoughts away. My body is not a photoshopped image – it’s a million times better. It’s soft and warm, and it can breathe and bleed and run and sweat and fuck and cry and laugh and think and dance.

My body is real.

by Hannah, age 23

“Although I don’t particularly dislike my body, I much prefer it covered.”

Although I don’t particularly dislike my body, I much prefer it covered. I don’t feel particularly comfortable naked but I do want to be. I am not ashamed of it, but I wish parts didn’t wobble so much, or that there wasn’t stretch marks or cellulite. But fact of the matter is, it’s perfectly natural for my body to not be completely smooth and toned, but the only images I see of women’s bodies are (usually) perfectly smooth, and almost seem sculpted; not a lump or a bump, a mark or a scratch. And that is what is not natural! I should not be embarrassed, or uncomfortable with myself naked, even when I’m on my own. But I am, and I don’t even really like seeing myself in the shower. I am trying though. For the past year or so, when I feel OK with myself I’ll maybe not get dressed straight away after a shower, or I’ll take my time getting dressed and try to ‘hang out’ with myself naked. Something I have never done before. I don’t know what was a turning point for me to realise that I wanted to get over my naked fear, I just started to want to be happy with being naked.

I don’t really know why I feel so uncomfortable being naked, I don’t really feel uncomfortable being around people who are naked, not that i have much experience with being around naked people (and maybe that’s what I’ve been missing!) but I would struggle to be naked myself, I would sit in a certain position so that I’m mostly covered and I’m not sure why. Maybe I feel indecent, but it would only be indecent if I was being naked in a situation where it would be inappropriate to be naked! I think I’ve only been naked in ‘public’ (and that was at a party with a mix of people I did and didn’t know – not just out in the open!) once or twice, I was probably drunk and I think I only got my boobs out, I did feel a sense of freedom but also fear. I don’t want to feel that fear.

I’ve also recently started taking baths with a close girl friend and I think this will be something that will also help me become more comfortable. Hanging out naked is something that I haven’t done often, and maybe not something I want to do on a regular basis with just any old soul, but with the right friends/woman it’s something that I could really benefit from and see being an enjoyable experience. But it’s all about baby steps I think, or at least this is what works for me. And I’m not doing this so I can just strip off in a big room full of people and be completely ok with it, but I want to be able to be myself in my own skin and not feel like there is something wrong with me, which deep down I know there isn’t, but it’s breaking down to that point where my conscious thoughts feel and think that way. I know I’m not fat, I’m not skinny, I’m not muscular or toned, I’d say I have a healthy body so why am I not happy with it? What is it I want it to be like? I don’t know the answer to that question, I couldn’t say what I wish my body was like as I don’t want another body… I just want to like/enjoy being naked with the one I have!

When I’m naked I feel a bit cheeky and silly, there is a certain thrill that comes with being naked, even when I’m just on my own. This sort of changes when I see my naked body in a mirror though, because I then just analyse every bit of it, whether good or bad. And actually, I can’t remember the last time I looked at myself properly in the mirror whilst fully naked (I’ll be in my underwear at least as I don’t have a proper mirror in my room and am definitely not ready for hallway nakedness). I don’t seem to analyse my body when there isn’t a mirror though. I don’t really look at it, but I am very aware of being naked. I’d like to enjoy naked time, and I believe with time this will come.

I hope this blog can be the start of a great journey for me, and for many woman, who want to be more comfortable with the body they are in, or want to celebrate the body they’ve got so we can all love and glorify all that is natural and beautiful with the female form!