Posted by Glen Donnelly at Nude Movement:
There’s a tragedy out there. Every now and then I meet a person who has a big problem with their body. Their problem is so bad that it prevents them from doing things they love in life. I’ve even met nudists – people who REALLY have a desire to get out and be nude with other human beings – who are afraid of showing their body because they ‘don’t look good’. They’d rather wait until they do – maybe later on… I’ve come across them, because up until two weeks ago I was one of them. I once spoke to the cameras telling my story of nudism as a sweeping solution for the body image woes that plagued my performing career for ten years. But the truth is that I still have problems showing my body in public – or even just to my sister! I have my reasons for wanting to look ripped – to look masculine, to look ‘big’ – and in my mind they are healthy, safe, and sane goals to have within me. There’s that word, ‘goals’. I happen to be a hyper goal-oriented individual and I know I should just embrace my body but how do I reconcile that with wanting to be something that I’m currently not? It’s a battle inside me. Some days, one side wins; other days, the other. Does it have to be this tortuous? I may seem like a neurotic minority here – but the truth is this story is common . I am not alone. And I am far from being alone, as a male. This story flies in the face of naturism’s cliché that states, that when we take our clothes off all reasons to judge, categorize and rank are gone and we’re suddenly a big happy family of unified, ‘classless’ equals. My struggle is proof this isn’t true, and all nudity does for many people is amplify the problems further. When you take your clothes off, you can’t escape from the issue. You literally can’t hide from others how ‘weird’ your breasts look, how ‘small’ your penis is, how ’round’ that tummy of yours is shaped. How ‘cellulite-y’ … that bum of yours is. Your big-ass nose is already enough to deal with, right? No matter what you think of it, humans will always judge, and if clothes aren’t there to form an opinion from, then the body will. So let’s go there. Let’s face our fears, and go where there is nothing more to hide. This is therapy at its finest. Two weeks ago I had a buildup of anxiety that came to a head. I was so caught up in all my goals and busyness in life that I wasn’t even performing them to the potential I know exists inside me. So I decided to do something radical. And it accidentally solved my body image problems forever. I decided to take a weekend of radical self-love, three days of looking after myself physically, mentally, and spiritually – just doing whatever the hell I felt was best for me, and me alone in every moment the entire weekend. Only one attitude was my moral guide: look after myself . It became a whole state of mind, and it was powerfully relaxing. It reset weeks of anxiety, and when a sudden opportunity came to attend a nude social meetup on the Saturday night, I was in the healthiest psychological place for doing it possible. I went – despite me looking ‘crap’ – I enjoyed myself, and in this moment I finally found my answer. Self-nurture. I discovered that when you’re in a place of self-nurture all you care about is ‘caring for yourself’. It is radically selfish, and radically self-helping. You are immune from shame, because shame is the last thing you feel like feeling! When you want to look after yourself – first and foremost – why would you care what you look like in front of others? It was a new logic that healthfully invaded the mind. So the battle within me finished, and the war was ended by bringing balance to my mind. The reason I had such a battle was that I couldn’t just accept the blunt statement, ‘Embrace Your Body’ and have nothing else to say about it. This statement is embodied by the wonderful and inspiring hero of mine, Body Image Movement champion Taryn Brumfitt. Her powerful documentary ‘Embrace’ has swept the Southern Hemisphere and is set to conquer the globe. No – there was another ideal that just didn’t feel right to let go of, an ideal at the other end of the spectrum of dealing with the apparent ‘ugliness’ of our own human body. This ideal is embodied by my other hero, Ben Greenfield of Ben Greenfield Fitness fame, a health champion and role model of mine who goes so far as to have a ‘Look Good Naked’ and longevity program. One extreme is a striving to do something about it; the other, a philosophy to just be ok about it. I am a striver, and I know that is a good thing that can help the world. I finally accepted my body as the way it is in front of other people without having to give up my dream one day to look like a living, breathing, Greek sculpture. I solved it, without having to shame body shamers. This needs to be said from the voice of a passionate body image activist: It’s OK to desire having a sexy body! It’s OK to want to look fit for your partner! It’s OK to dislike being fat! People have a right to say ‘I’m sexually attracted to this person and I’m just not to that person because they’re fat and I’m not attracted to that’. People have a right to say ‘I’m attracted to guys that look masculine and strong and confidant and not guys who look weak and small and feminine.’ I am not here to speak out against body shaming. I don’t even have a problem with the magazines who photoshop humans into scantily clad aliens in the name of art! Those magazine photos are sometimes beautiful – if unlifelike – and it’s you who has the choice of how to respond to other people’s statements on beauty, sexyness, and health. The solution is not to stop aspiring for greatness. It’s to say, ‘Devil may care’ if you’re not there. And it’s to realize, that maybe there’s 7.5 billion opinions on beauty – on virtue – and on sexiness – in this world. It’s OK for people to judge. They actually have that right. Their judgement is their own. And it doesn’t have anything to do with you. Unless you want it to . That moment I finally achieved real body acceptance, I was immune from body shaming. That’s how to win this war. You win it by embracing both freedom of opinion, and yourself. You do it like Harnaam Kaur . The solution is within you . By embracing both sides.