One of the most common anxiety dreams that people have involves being the only naked person amongst the clothed masses, commonly at work or school. In dreams, nudity is symbolic of vulnerability, being exposed for what or who we really are; unable to conceal our true nature. I think this stems from the conditioning of culture, where we are taught that we must cover our natural state and avert our eyes from the flesh of our brethren, to be considered civilized and decent. To be naked and unashamed is rare, and I say THANK GOD.
I’m kidding, calm down. It’s just that I’ve spent years working nude, and have to say that if nudity was commonplace, if there was no air of cool mystery to it, if it wasn’t something that the majority of you found terrifying, I would’ve had a much more difficult time paying my rent without wearing a company-issued polo shirt and name-badge combo, and I’d probably still think there was validity to the idiom about no food tasting as good as being thin feels. I’ve been a nude figure model and a stripper for years, and being professionally naked taught me more about the realities of confidence and attraction than the entire published run of Cosmopolitan ever could. And now, I’d like to do my part to reduce your birthday-suit butterflies by sharing a few of the nuggets I’ve picked up during my time unclothed about how to feel better about being naked while not alone.
Perception is 9/10ths of the Law.
To begin, you must understand that our brains, filled with the sum total of our life experiences, are what attach feelings, thoughts, and judgments to those images that we take in with our eyes. So though we may all view the same person, place, or thing, we all see something different. My stripper friend, Tiffany, once quoted Anais Nin to me: “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
Size and shape are nothing until we’re told how to feel about them, and with all of the mixed messages fed to us from all of the various sources (parents, friends, media and advertisers), body image is, at best, a clusterf*** of chaos. With weight distribution, there is no baseline. You wear 130 lbs. differently than I do, which is differently than my cousin does.
You can never control how another person sees you, because you can never control the experiences of their past, so it’s futile to spend your time worrying or being upset about it. I learned this as a figure model at the Kansas City Art Institute. I’d walk around the room on my breaks, mind blown by the differences that I saw on the easels. One person’s drawing of a mountain of fleshy curves was another’s detailed shading of taut skin stretched over protruding hipbones. The only person whose perception you can rely on, or even productively care about, is your own.