Maybe your body isn’t so disgusting after all.
Welcome back to Lady Things, the column where we swim in the murky waters of the female experience. This week, we jump feet first into the naked hot tub of public nudity.
By all accounts, as a small child, I loved being naked. There’s plenty of photographic evidence—me, pants-less and full of joy, not even remotely aware of how chubby my legs look and how dimpled my butt is.
But as I grew older, I developed an absolute aversion to public nudity. I would wrap myself in a towel to change after swim lessons, even as a 6-year-old. At home we were naked all the time but out in the world, I didn’t want anybody to see my horrifying body.
Was it was my internalized shame at being a future woman? Maybe. Was it the neurotic belief that I had from ages 4 to 6 that I had somehow become pregnant? Maybe. (Note: When you explain how babies are made to your young child, be clear—toddlers literally know nothing and they could make some seriously wrongheaded leaps in logic.) Am I, despite my parents’ best efforts, a product of a culture that glorifies sexiness while reviling the normal human body as a disgusting affront to decency? Most certainly, yes.
This dislike of nudity continued through my life. I wear shorts at the beach, even now. I wrap a towel around myself until the last possible minute before I jump into the pool.
But what’s wrong with public nudity, really? Recently, I started visiting Everett House Healing Center, a sort of hippie spa in Northeast Portland. Initially, I was wary of the place, which advertises itself as “clothing optional.” What I wanted was a sauna, not body shame. Also, who wants to sauna in a swimsuit? So on a rainy Saturday, I walked over.
Source: Willamette Week
Original publication 17 March, 2016
Posted on NatCorn 16th December 2019
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.