guest post by anonymous contributor
My relationship with my body is like most women’s relationships with their bodies: complicated.
I am self-conscious about the cellulite on my thighs, the stretch marks on my stomach, and the way my arms jiggle when I wave. I try to tell myself to appreciate my body more, that it deserves love and care, but the gap between what I should tell myself about my body and what I actually tell myself about my body is a hard one to fill.
I’m a person of extremes. For good or for bad, when I want to do something, I take it all the way. So this summer, when I decided that I wanted to become more appreciative and aware of my body, I decided to spend a day at a nudist resort.
Let me be clear here: I haven’t worn a swimsuit in years. I also dress to cover my garments. But I decided that being completely naked around a bunch of strangers would be a good experience.
And let me tell you something. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
The woman who worked at the front desk was incredibly friendly and helpful. She gathered some identification information from me and did a short background check. After I was checked in, I walked back to my car, took a deep breath, and got undressed.
There were a few things I noticed and learned spending a day naked with strangers.
1. Bodies, especially naked bodies, do not need to equal sex. I loved how normal and ubiquitous bodies were in this setting. They were just instruments people used to enjoy swimming, hiking, and sunbathing.
2. The men there didn’t act like ravenous dogs at the sight of naked women. I did not feel afraid or threatened by the presence of men. This only solidified to me the idea that “men can’t control themselves” is completely socially conditioned.
3. I didn’t feel self-conscious. Not once. I didn’t feel the need to cover my thighs or suck in my stomach. The whole atmosphere of the resort was that bodies are just bodies, not battlefields.
4. Nipple sunburns are THE WORST THING EVER.
5. There was a children’s day camp going on for school-aged kids. The girls in the group acted exactly like you would expect a group of girls to act at a day camp: they ran across fields, laughed with each other, and painted murals. I got really, really sad when I realized that at some point in their lives, probably soon, someone is going to tell them that their bodies are bad. That their bodies are a distraction to the men around them. That their bodies belong to advertisers. That their bodies mean sex.
I thought about me as a little girl and how my ideas of my body have evolved over time. I wanted to go back in time and tell adolescent me that my body is good and that anyone who told me otherwise is a liar.
But I can’t do that. What I can do, though, is try to remember how I felt that day from now on. Because if spending a day at a nudist resort only taught me one thing, it’s this:
My body isn’t perfect, but it’s mine. And it’s a good body.