Reflections on Body Positivity: What I Learned About Being Naked

It’s often all too easy to take for granted the amazing work your body does each day.

three multi-racial women seen from the legs down

Medically reviewed in January 2021

Updated on September 30, 2021

“Naked is trending and sexy right now,” read the marketing email subject line. No surprise there. From ads featuring barely covered naked celebs to totally naked “dating” reality shows, getting naked gets attention.

I’m feeling naked right now. But I feel neither trendy nor sexy, and I’d rather not be having this attention. Why?

I’m wearing a thin blue gown with ballet flats in a cold waiting room, biding my time to have a biopsy because the mammogram “showed an abnormality.” There are five other women here, all in similar garb. At this particular moment, the labels on our clothes and their sizes don’t really matter.

Suddenly, the criticisms I lob at this body of mine—because my calves aren’t more muscular or my thighs aren’t more toned—all seem frivolous and even ungracious. Especially when I consider everything this self-criticized body does right, all day long:

  • My heart beats 60 times a minute—and naturally quickens when I stand up after hearing the nurse call my name.
  • Every minute, my lungs inhale and exhale 14 times—that is, aside from when I’m holding my breath during today’s procedure.
  • Meanwhile, my brain secretes hormones that turn my stomach to butterflies as I wait for my results.

Even though I rarely give it much credit, my body just keeps on keeping on, doing its thing, not requiring a thought from me. It enables a spontaneous smile at a friend, raises my arms to embrace a loved one, or crouches to lift up my little girl. These things are just so effortlessly possible that it’s too easy to forget the miracles within.

That is, until we’re suddenly stopped by a few concerning (and not even visible) cells. Why does it require such a moment of fear—one that takes our breath away—to make us grateful for that breath?

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when, as toddlers, most of us ran around naked, thrilling in the joy of fleeing from our exasperated parents. Wheeee!

Now we mainly see what’s “wrong” with the outside, completely losing sight of what's fantastic on the inside.

Every once in a while, let’s remember to get naked. (Watch it, Hollywood, I’m speaking metaphorically here. I’m still a girl from the South, so please put your shirt back on.)

I mean, let’s deepen our focus—taking it off our thighs or schnozzes or frizzy hair—and placing it instead on our breath, our cells. Take a little moment for a “Wheeee!” of thanks. My body may not be airbrushed to Hollywood perfection, but it does a great job of getting me where I want to go. And, thanks to biopsy results that come back benign, it’s breast cancer-free.

Nothing is sexier than that.

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