Are you at ease being naked? Do you feel more comfortable clothed or unclothed? Can you explain why you feel this way?
I’ve always been more comfortable clothed than unclothed. I recall one summer day when I was 5 years old, I was in the yard with my dad and I complained that I was too hot. He suggested that I take off my T-shirt; a little girl’s torso at that age is indistinguishable from a little boy’s torso, so no big deal, right? But even then I knew that girls and women don’t take off their shirts and I felt uncomfortable with it so I didn’t.
Eventually I internalized the notion (picked up indirectly from my mom) that a female body is at risk and invites real danger, and when that body is sexually mature, the risk is even more acute. Therefore, showing one’s body is dangerous. Breasts, as the most obvious sign of a girl’s sexual maturity, were especially problematic. When I was in high school, not only could I not bring myself to wear snug-fitting tops, I didn’t understand how other girls could. I was utterly baffled. If I had to go swimming, I would wear a one-piece bathing suit and feel self-conscious until I could hide myself in the hot tub.
I found it tremendously difficult to work up the nerve to try a belly dance class, but I’m so glad I did because it taught me to feel more comfortable in my body. One of the reasons why I originally gravitated to this particular style was that it was quite a bit more covered than most. After 9 years, I performed my first solo (in a slightly different style) and I had complete creative liberty with my costume. I wore a long, full skirt and a decorated bra top. I felt uncomfortable and exposed; it wasn’t easy, but I did it and the world didn’t end. Here’s a photo from that performance:
Belly dance and figuring out the sexual shame issue have helped a lot, but the nude photography that I do for the blog has taken it to the next level. Like many people, I tend to regard my body critically. Using my body as a subject for art (yeah, I’m going to call it art) makes me look for the good stuff rather than fixating on the “bad” stuff. And simply spending time nude or topless for my little photo shoots has made me more comfortable with nudity. I used to ban Wolf from the room with dire threats, but now I just get on with it because I know he won’t interrupt.
I still skew modest, but I routinely wear clingy clothes and wearing a bathing suit is no longer a big deal. I’m OK with walking around the house briefly while nude, as long as I can’t be seen through the window. Wolf and I have sex with the lights on. I’m much more comfortable than I was.