Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Getting Naked With 30 People Improved My Body Image

I've never been naked around other women. I'm the girl who changes in the corner of the locker room, stealthily replacing my regular bra with a sports bra without removing my shirt. Eyes averted, I tear off my jeans and jam my legs into yoga pants, as though I'm racing against a stopwatch to set a record for the shortest time to dress. God forbid anyone sees my cellulite. Or my less than flat abs. Or that gravity has made my boobs look like they belong to a thirty year old rather than a teenager.

Since my boyfriend and I started frequenting sex parties last spring, I've gotten comfortable with nudity in a very specific context: we go to the venue, we take off our clothes, we have sex, we get dressed again. People look around, but everyone is pretty preoccupied with their own play. When I do notice someone checking us out, I tend to think, "that's hot, they're watching me orgasm" over "I hope my ass doesn't look too big from that angle." In other words, I'm too turned on to care.

When Bradley and I went to a play party at our friends' house last month, it was the first time I'd ever socialized naked. Everyone took off their clothes to jump in the pool, and nobody put them on again for the rest of the night. So we were telling jokes in the hot tub naked, introducing ourselves and shaking hands naked, snacking on chips around the kitchen table naked, dancing in the hallway naked... People of all ages, shapes and sizes, just hanging out with our stuff hanging out.

And it felt so... natural. And healthy.

On the drive back home, I shared my epiphany with Bradley:

"I only just now realized that women's bodies tend to be proportional. Skinny women usually have small boobs. And women with huge boobs usually have extra fat in other places on their body."

"Um, yeah."

"Well I hadn't thought about that because all the naked women I've seen in my entire life are from watching porn. And you know I watch way too much porn."

This whole time I've been struggling with body image issues, it hadn't occurred to me that I'd seen very few real naked female bodies, so my expectations were warped. A single nude party helped ground me in reality and made me feel more comfortable in my skin.

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