Previous Post – What Is Shame?
Body and nudity shame don’t do any good. They’re simple evil forces that put a toll on our psychological and physical wellbeing. In an insightful Well+Good article, Dr Erika Groban says that “untreated feelings of shame often contribute to the development of psychological distress and disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and more”.
Taming shame is therefore an important aspect of our lives. The above article, centered on women, applies evenly to men and shares five ideas to tame shame:
1. Start a hobby that uses your body. This could be yoga, running or cycling. Whatever works for you and your body.
2. Unfriend anyone who subscribes to the body-shame frame of mind. Toxic people take you with them, flee them. It’s not about denying they exist. It’s making the conscious decision they have a negative impact on your life.
3. Learn to name your associations, and identify their roots. As I wrote previously, being aware is the first step necessary to understanding, action, and growth. You can’t act if you don’t identify what blocks you.
4. Don’t participate in shaming conversations. Compliment, compliment, compliment! Instead of looking at the dark dot on the blank sheet, look at how beautiful the paper is. A half-empty glass is half-full too!
5. Notice how society uses shame to suppress your power: too skinny, too fat, too much love handle, etc. Stop gossiping and getting distracted! Just move one.
In the coming pages, we will emphasize some of those aspects and build upon them to let shame of nudity go away and replace it with pride, comfort and strength.
Seeing the Positive in Nudism
Let me start by saying something that may sound cliché but it so true and powerful: “You are beautiful!” Yes, you, you are beautiful. I know that the first idea that will come to your mind when you read or hear that sentence is that I may have not seen your flaws; otherwise I wouldn’t say such a thing. Well, I’m a nudist, I don’t have a magazine body but I made the decision years ago that I will love myself and will embrace my flaws as my unique characteristics that make me who I am. Therefore, I got rid of the shame of nudity and embraced its comfort.
Every time I go to a nude beach or a nudist resort, I feel so good seeing all those naked bodies around me in their beautiful diversities. They all are beautiful. In a nudist environment, you’re not judged and no comments are made about your body. All nudists know we are who we are and we have the body we have. Getting naked and being comfortable in plain and simple nudity is a manifesto for the freedom you gained and displayed.
Experiencing nudist settings is one of the necessary steps of taming the shame of nudity that society, culture and religion have imposed to guide our behaviors. Nudists are normal people who have got rid of the shame of nudity. We can get and stay naked without feeling this shame, although many textiles want to impose that shame upon us. When in a nudist setting, without any textile around, this shame vanishes and disappears totally with time.
Awakening to this awareness is the secret weapon to “vaporize” the shame. I know many new nudists still feel the shame of nudity even in nudist settings. They feel something is wrong and they’re not comfortable being naked. I encourage them to go back to step number 3 described above. Don’t walk away from identifying this unease. Do your best to put words on your feeling and to understand where it’s coming from.
It may require some time. But once you’ve identified the cause, don’t try to get rid of it. Psychologically, it’s difficult to forget, to delete memories. It seems more useful to replace old learning by new ones. Therefore, go back to chapter 3 and pick a couple of benefits of nudism. Chose the ones that resonate with you and make them yours to explain nudism.
Nudism is a very positive lifestyle. Although it’s not seen as positive by every textile, the fact that it’s legal in many countries on the planet, that it has federations to protect and promote it should comfort you in your choice of relabelling nudism with normality. Let me repeat this again and again, being nude is normal. Being nude is comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good while nude alone and with others.
Coming back to the shame of nudity, once you identified what makes you feeling ashamed, replace the thoughts with what makes nudity unique and comfortable for you. To help you, I will share how I released my shame and let it disappear. I made two conscious decisions a long time ago to expand my practice of nudity. The first one was to push myself to get naked in every situation where it was possible without shocking anybody. The second was to always reflect and try to understand the cause of the feeling of unease when I was applying my first decision out of my comfort zone.
The first decision led me to tell my circle of friends and family that I was a nudist and was comfortable naked. Hence, if they were okay with my nudity, I would seize opportunities to get and stay naked when they were around. Most were okay, some not. If I respect the choice of the latter, I still try from time to time to convince them about the benefits of nudism. For the former, I had moments of doubts, particularly the first times I got naked with them around. So I applied my second decision. Often, the cause of my unease wasn’t the presence of others, it was the idea I was creating in my head about how my choice would impact the image they had about me.
My unease came almost always about the projection of my self-image. I was, unconsciously, imagining negative consequences and changes in others’ behaviors because of my nudity. When I deeply thought about this, it always came from the necessity to be congruent to the image I wanted to project, not to the way I was inside. Changing perspective helped me accept that nudism was not only something I should be proud of, but was an inherent part of me. Those two conscious decisions and their application over the years helped me release the shame of nudity and embrace nudity in many life activities.
The more I discovered nudism over the years, the more I became aware that many nudists feel the same. It’s all normal in the society we’re living in. Now, if we want to be accepted as nudists and promote nudism to wider circles, we also need to acknowledge that some textiles are neither ready to accept others’ nudity nor to become nudist themselves. We need to feel and express compassion.
Compassion and Empathy
Wikipedia tells us that “compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental, or emotional pains of another and themselves.” I just love this definition. Generally, compassion is linked to suffering, due to its Latin etymology (cumpassio which means to suffer with somebody else). I prefer looking at compassion as a way to understand others and respect their points of view.
It’s tightly linked to empathy, the “capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference”. Empathy helps us to walk in others’ shoes, to see things from their perspective. It’s an important aspect of emotional intelligence, a frame of mind said to help in social interaction.
If somebody sees nudity and nudism as bad, we need to accept this. Not only to respect the person, but also to accept that we may have felt this as well in the past, and may sometimes feel it. If we weren’t feeling nudity and nudism as bad, we wouldn’t be ashamed by our own or others’ nudity. Even when we have released our shame of nudity, compassion will help us understand others, and potentially convince them that nudism and nudity have nothing inherently bad.
However, this means that we need to agree that some people will reject our nudity. I know it may sound unequal that we accept that some see nudity as bad and hence stay clothed with them. Why should they just accept our nudity as the respect of our differences? Because, accepting difference is accepting our discomfort and this requires time and will. Not everybody is ready to do so, although I believe there’s no other way to live in peace.
Being compassionate and empathetic helps to show we care and we have respect. This shouldn’t stop us from explaining the positive aspects of nudism and to try to have others change their minds. Being compassionate has two very positive consequences. The first is to show respect and love. This helps a lot the other party to feel heard, respected and loved, prerequisites to understanding. The second is to participate in the release of our shame of nudity. Showing compassion, respect and love contributes to increasing self-respect and replace shame with positive feelings.
Compassion helps physical, mental and emotional pains of others and oneself. In the previous chapter we’ve seen the many physical, psychological and emotional benefits of nudism and simple nudity. Compassion helps replace the pains of shame by the benefits of nudity.
As we’re about to move to the last part of this chapter, I want to emphasize again that “rationally” nothing is wrong with simple and plain nudity. The more you think about it, the less you find rational explanations against it. Arguments like, “it’s a sin”, “we’re not animals”, “it’s bad”, “it’s private”, are all rooted in our discomfort of nudity that has been learned and repeated ad nauseam.
Accepting they aren’t rational is the only path towards true body freedom and acceptance of our and others’ simple nudity. The moment we take this path, reject non-rational arguments and decide to tame the shame, we embark into a wonderful journey of living shamelessly.
Next part – Living Shamelessly
Strip Nude, Stay Nude, Live Nude and Share the Nude Love!