This is the third parth of the series. I strongly recommend reading parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t done so yet. They can be found at the following links:
- How to stop being ashamed of your naked body, Part 1
- How to stop being ashamed of your naked body, Part 2
So, now we have defined where we are regarding nudity in a wide variety of social situations, and we have defined where we want to be. I’m going to assume two things:
- That you wish to reduce your fear of being naked, i.e. become more relaxed, or make no change in certain situations (I fully understand if you have no wish to show yourself naked in public places).
- That you have no desire to be naked where it is not considered appropriate, i.e. I will not tell you how to shed your fear of going naked through the city center.
We may be looking to achieve the state of mind of a newborn regarding nudity – absolute indifference and even having no knowledge that being naked is an issue – but that is not realistic. Even if we manage to find a way to safely erase experiences and their effects which have defined us as we are, that procedure would fundamentally change our personality. Who knows if in this new state of mind resulting from the procedure we would even be the same person?
Science fiction aside, overcoming the fears which have been ingrained in us and our upbringing – while terrifying at times – is also tremendously rewarding. When we have accomplished that, remembering where we were is quite difficult and the only question we have for our past selves is “Why?” Sometimes it is very difficult for me to understand my past self regarding certain fears I had and have since overcome.
The way we want to approach our fear depends on our current satus and our goals, but taking it in the context of the chart I’ve drawn in the previous part, the way to do it is always the same – from left to right. Let me explain.
On the left hand side of the chart are situations where we are mostly alone and on the right hand side are situations where we are mostly surrounded by other people. The way to build a healthy attitude towards nudity is to first come to terms with it on our own – in a locked room, then in a closed room, then in a room with the doors partly open, then fully open, then on the way from that room to the bathroom, then multiple rooms, then all that when someone else is in the same house or flat, etc. At the same time we don’t want to lose our goal from sight.
Remember, we are trying not to break the norms here, so if you have someone to talk to – particularly if you don’t want to freak them out with your exercise – then talk to them. Tell them about your problems (i.e. that maybe you have a pathological fear of nudity and want to get rid of it). See how they respond – they may even prove helpful about it. If they ask why you’re afraid, tell them you don’t know, that you just are, but it’s become damaging and you want to stop being afraid. If they ask why you want to stop being afraid, tell them your reasons. Is it fear of a hidden disease which you dare not report because of your fear of being naked, or something less serious? Maybe it’s simply that you want to stop being so afraid all the time – that’s a pretty good reason as well and it’s what usually drives me.
The most difficult step for some might be that first time of simply being naked for seemingly no reason. I can relate to the feeling of being watched, laughed at, sneered at, from every tiniest crack in the window blinds, through the keyhole of the locked door, from the closed closet – and if you’re doing it in a pitch black room, lying on your bed (covered or not) naked, from the side, or under your bed, or looming above you a figure staring critically at the shape of your body beneath the sheets just waiting to get you should a patch of skin show; and even though it’s completely dark you think that they can see you. I don’t know if this is exactly what the fear of being naked is, but it’s definitely what my fear of the dark used to be like (minus the sneers and laughs, plus fangs or bleeding eyes and death).
Overcoming this initial terror is the most difficult part. The way I did it was to simply tell myself that this isn’t happening. Whenever my mind conjured a spectre in the dark, I’d programmed myself to automatically flood my thoughs with a single thought “It’s not really there,” or “That’s not really happening,” or “This is my mind, not reality,” or “There are no such things; they don’t exist”. On the other hand what you need to do is to get out of your head and look and listen to the things around you. It’s your mind that’s generating these fears and spectres, not reality, so listen to what’s really out there, not what your fear has put there. This translates into opening those closets wide so you can see that nobody’s inside. If you have to, remove the mattress from your bed so you can see that there’s really nothing there. Then go outside and take a look through the keyhole and see which parts of the room are visible through it, then simply don’t go to these parts until you feel daring. Then go and peek through the holes of the closed blinds. Most likely you won’t see a damn thing inside, so that’s that.
And yes, don’t expect this to be very easy. You’ll probably hear your heart beating in your ears, your stomach, your fingertips… But the key is always to make one step out of your comfort zone and make that place your comfort zone. Do it gradually. Feel your fear losing ground to your endeavors. And be proud of it.
Once you’re past that, don’t try practicing nudity in places which are accessible to the public, even if you think them secluded. Encountering someone at this stage may throw you off, especially if their reaction is very negative. Another possibility is that they turn up with small children and that would probably get you labeled as a pedophile and sex offender.
Instead, when you’re good with yourself being naked (and you have informed people who live with you about it), start talking to other people who don’t live with you – your close friends are a good start. See how they react to that. You don’t necessarily want to ask them if they want to get naked with you, but asking about nudity in general, or otherwise bringing up the subject can be helpful. Don’t push the subject, though – that may be counterproductive – just wait until it comes up naturally next time. If they’re positive, or neither positive nor negative about it, chances are you can get them to enjoy (non-sexual) nudity with you. If they are negative, may be you can turn them around. One icebreaker I found quite effective in social situations is social games which involve nudity. Play strip poker for example, and “lose” intentionally. I did that with my friends and once I was naked everyone else was more relaxed to be naked themselves – they even told me so afterwards.
If you decide that being naked around your friends is not your thing, you might want to try clothing optional beaches – and if it is, visit with your friends. Go, lie down, “test the waters”. See if you dare to take off your clothes. If you’re a male, you might be afraid of getting an erection, which is usually a sign that you’re not there looking to enjoy nudity, but something else. If you feel it happening, lie on your stomach and hide it that way. This is “normal” somewhat, because our society tends to put an equality symbol between nudity and sexuality and this attitude transfers onto us whether we like it or not. It may take several visits to a non-sexual nudist environment with no clothes on to learn that there is no grounds for such an equation.
Once you’re good with that, you’re ready to be naked in any other socially acceptable situation. What you can do now is try doing different things naked. One thing you could do naked is household chores; other things you could do is lying or sitting naked in the grass, skinny dipping… basically trying to do everything you used to do clothed, naked. You will find some things are enjoyable and others are a no-no (such as trying to fry something in a pan naked).
In the next and final part, I’ll be talking about things you simply have to be able to do naked whether you like it or not (the alternative being death or serious injury – your own or someone else’s) and about things which I would personally recommend you do naked.