Does Nudism Improve Self-Esteem?
Nudism Improves Self-Esteem - I was in the locker room at the Travasuns pool party, getting dressed to leave when another woman doing the same started openly lamenting her weight and figure. “I need to lose weight,” she said, “I wish I looked like you.” My response was, “Now that is the wrong mentality!”
Have you ever had somebody else envy your body, complain about certain parts of their bodies, or judge themselves out loud? They say things like, “I’m so fat,” “I wanna get really skinny / I need to lose weight,” “I need to have a flat stomach.” I have definitely spent too much time trying to convince friends with low self-esteem that they were not “fat,” that their body and size were “normal,” and that they didn’t need to lose weight. But it’s not that easy to change how other people feel about their bodies. Some people, when they look in the mirror, start judging and criticizing themselves about every little bit of flab and flaw. They don’t see what you see when they look in the mirror.
You might think that since I grew up as a nudist that I’d have great self-esteem and effortlessly feel good about my body. I did spend many of my summers in social nudism, but the rest of the year I was living in the textile world. I read fashion and beauty magazines and still felt pressure to look good, wear trendy clothing and make-up in school. I was very shy and insecure (admittedly still a little shy sometimes). I was and still am thin, but that didn’t keep me from judging my own body and living with a fear of getting fat. I had this terrible mental habit of comparing my own body to those of other girls, from the ones I saw in real life to the models in the magazines, to figure out what I should look like. Am I as skinny as she is? Do I have cellulite? Are my thighs too fat? I wish I had straighter lines in my figure like her. My friend, who also grew up as a nudist, developed an eating disorder in college, in spite of her deep involvement in nudism. It just goes to show how invasive the skinny=beautiful notion is. Also, did anyone enter college in fear of gaining the “Freshman 15”? It doesn’t even exist.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter what your size is or what you look like if your mind has been infected with a sense of inadequacy. People of any shape and size can feel ugly, inadequate and overweight, and so many young women (and men, but less so) are obsessed with getting thin. That’s what today’s beauty and fashion magazines are counting on to make money, from women especially. Thank you, Ashley Judd, for recently standing up against the ridiculous puffy-face accusations and using it for discussion about the objectification of women. Read her letter here. She brings up a good point: women judge each other and participate in patriarchy, too!
But wait! You don’t have to listen to all those messages telling you you’re not good enough, need to diet, or need plastic surgery! I want to share this awesome video from Laci Green, sex-positive blogger and sex-ed teacher, about having better self-esteem. Her advice can make a difference. Give up beauty, fashion, and gossip magazines. Most women’s magazines are totally focused on beauty / weight-loss advice (based on the premise that you’re never good enough), along with selling the products to help you with that. Don’t even be fooled by the ones that print a little body-positive material because the rest of the magazine will contradict it. There are a few good magazines out there, though. I recommend Bust magazine and Bitch magazine. No matter what magazine you’re reading, it’s good to remind yourself that all images on its pages have been airbrushed, edited and photoshopped (unless they explicitly state that they don’t engage in this practice). You’re not looking at reality. Also be mindful of what you watch on TV. Notice which TV shows make you feel more self-conscious and / or induce negative thoughts about your body. Mute the TV when commercials come on. You don’t know what messages you are subconsciously picking up from commercials while you’re sleeping or otherwise occupied.
Try to stop judging your own body and others’ bodies. Cutting out the negative self-talk I mention above can make a big difference. Notice next time you find yourself engaging in “fat talk” with your friends. Just decide not to do that anymore. Tell your friends it only makes you and them feel bad. Change the subject. Start noticing your inner mind chatter, too, because you can learn to control your thoughts. If you find yourself criticizing someone else’s body, cancel that thought and notice a beautiful part instead. You wouldn’t want someone criticizing you like that, would you? By judging others, you are dis-empowering them and yourself. Whenever a negative thought comes up, change it to a positive one. Tell yourself that you don’t want to think these thoughts anymore. Come up with a few positive statements (aka affirmations) that you can say to yourself every day, such as: My body is a good body. I am proud of what my body can do. I love and respect myself. The best way to do this is to start with statements that you don’t have a hard time believing. For example, “I love my body” might too much to start with. Your mind chatter might say, “No, I really hate it!” So you could start with something else like, My body deserves love, or, It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve. You can also use statements that you don’t believe just yet, and as they say, “fake it til you make it.” Be gentle with yourself. It takes a bit of time to eliminate negative thinking, especially when you’ve been repeating certain thoughts for a long time. See here for more affirmation ideas. Use whichever ones resonate with you!
And my favorite piece of advice from Laci: Get Naked! If you’re not a naturist, you can start going nude at home. Then, I think one of the BEST ways to feel good about yourself is to see the beautiful, uncensored bodies of people in real life who are confident and comfortable just as they are. This is one reason I love naturism.
You can also read Laci’s tips here.
About the Author (Author Profile)I'm Felicity Jones, author of Felicity's Blog and co-founder of Young Naturists America. I write about nudism and naturism in today's world along with issues like top-freedom and body acceptance, and various naked topics. Enjoy, and please leave a comment when you've got something to say! :)
I guess so. When everyone's nude all our imperfections are on display (so to speak) and nobody really cares. It's nice :)
this is an interesting blog... My wife is 5'6 and weighs 121 lbs, and at 36, I think she looks great...but she is WAY too critical of herself...thinking that she is still "fat" to wear certain clothes, or to be seen nude (or nearly nude). On the flip-side, she does have a commendable goal of working to get to 18% body fat. She wants "ripped" abs, and nicely toned muscles. I won't lie - I think those who can reach that level of body fat in a HEALTHY, ATHLETIC WAY is commendable....and looks very attractive, yet bodies who aren't "18% BF" are very attractive as well. What worries me if when people try and reach weight goals and look emaciated, unhealthy, mal-nourished... This is the opposite of those 'marathon' or 'triathalon' types who reach that BF level based on their healthy lifestyle. I don't think it is wrong for those to strive to be lean AND HEALTHY - just not lean for the sake of looking 'thin'. Pick up a "Runners" magazine and then look at some of the other mags that are nothing but thin, emaciated "models' - and anyone will clearly see the difference. Lean and FIT is beautiful... emaciated is not...even if both have the same BF %. Anyways, just my $0.02
I am a 21 year girl from India, here there is no nudist resort and beach. Where I will practice nudism, i know nudism is great. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org Let me know in India where i can do nudism.
Thanks for the comment Greg! Yes, I think a lot of women are TOO critical of their bodies! They look in the mirror and criticize themselves or can't even bring themselves to look in the mirror at their naked figures at all. I'm all for losing weight for health reasons and in a healthy way, not for the goal of looking emaciated or malnourished! But a lot of women want to lose weight for appearance, to look thin, and using crash diets, juice diets, and extreme measures to do it. I wish they would focus more on how they feel in their bodies rather than what the scale says or how other women/models look in comparison. I think many women also don't realize they're trying to match themselves to one body type, when in reality we are all unique. And we should celebrate the unique because as Laci says, it'd be *boring* if we all looked like the model type!