I was about to spend a good chunk of the next day naked.
And at midnight the night before, I was woefully unprepared.
My body hair situation put me on equal footing with a Neanderthal adolescent. Street urchins who had never known decent shoe the first had prettier feet than I did. And while I wasn’t overweight by any stretch, I was feeling a little large and in charge from the one-woman cookie-eating contest I killed it in over the holidays.
It wasn’t pretty.
I shaved my legs and slathered my crotch with what smelled like floral scented battery acid. My feet would have to do.
For all this trouble you would have thought that perhaps I was auditioning for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (where I’m sure I would have been directed to the Ooompa-Loompa casting down the hall).
Or maybe I had been invited to spend the day playing 50 Shades of Hamm, as in Jon.
I was going to a Korean spa for a birthday retreat. A spa where the women’s pool/steam area was completely nude, and the co-ed saunas were clothed. The birthday girl, a dear friend, who like me was a retired dancer and mother of two, described the spa as super relaxing. The nudity was no big deal, she claimed. Somewhat humiliating was changing in a dressing room with a bunch of in-their-prime twenty-something dancers. Not being at a spa with real women.
Still, I couldn’t show my naked self looking like Chewbacca’s little sister.
On the appointed day, I entered the ladies locker room. Bare lady bits everywhere. Canya give a sista some dark glasses? Maybe horse blinders? I stripped down, lathered up in the open shower stalls, and got in the pool with my pals. It was the ultimate female bonding - everyone relaxed in the water, seeing but not judging, happy to chill.
I even got a body scrub, one where you lie on a table and a woman scrubs you down like a potato - half massage half scouring. She scrubbed EVERWHERE, but still I felt like a child being bathed by her grandmother. I'd venture to say a hummus tub worth of dead skin was sloughed off, and I got off the table with skin as soft as my 2.5 year old.
In addition to losing all that dead skin, I shed my negative views of the female body. I saw skin old, young, smooth, tight, dimpled, loose, and tattooed in every hue. I saw women whose bodies bore the topography of scars from childbirth and mastectomy and other surgeries. I saw women who were leggy and coltish, muscular, fleshy, pear-shaped, apple-shaped, statuesque, petite. There were women who rocked it hirsute and who were cue ball hairless. There were girls whose bodies had yet to change. It was the feminine continuum, and I was part of the spectrum.
I like a well toned, well groomed body as much as anyone. But we've gone way too far over the cliff in the idea that only a narrow band of bodies are acceptable or beautiful.
Or even lovable.
What makes our bodies beautiful is our ability to enjoy them. Our ability to be free and happy in our own skin. With so much bombardment with the idea that if we don’t look a certain way we are less than, a woman who is able to walk around naked, without apology, just being who she is, is a wonderful thing.
So I'm not advocating joining a nudist colony, unless that's your bag, of course. If you want to be more at ease with your naked body, being naked together with other real women helps. Not the stealth dressing room kind of nakedness, where people are tripping over themselves to conceal, but the I've-got-nothing-to-hide kind of nakedness. The what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of nakedness.
It redefines normal, and gives depth to beauty.
It is what it is.
Looking good naked is a great goal. But if you never truly feel good naked, what's the point?