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All About Body Image: How Getting Naked Can Cultivate Self-Acceptance

Elisha Thompson
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My weight became an issue at a very early age and I learned to cover and hide it as much as possible. I was certain that others would be as repulsed by what they saw as I was, and I spent most of my life avoiding my naked reflection in the mirror.
 
It has been a slow process, but since losing nearly half my bodyweight, I have come to feel differently about my body. At first, the dramatic shift in attention that I received was a huge confidence builder. For the first time in my life, people were noticing me because I was “thin and pretty” rather than “fat and ugly.” I was on cloud nine!
 
But eventually the novelty of all that attention wore off and all the body shame and self-disgust was still there, hidden beneath the surface.
 
It wasn’t until yoga found me that I began to let go of all those preconceived notions of what my body ‘should’ look and feel like that I began to accept and love it.
 
My body has continually amazed and shocked me with it’s capabilities. I never imagined I could do arm balances, headstands, or rest my forehead on my shins – that’s akin to superhero stuff! I’m not gonna lie, I still have bad days too, but I can honestly say that I love and appreciate my body for all that it does for me.
 

It wasn’t until yoga found me that I began to let go of all those preconceived notions of what my body ‘should’ look and feel like that I began to accept and love it.

 
Despite my body image issues, I have grown to become comfortable spending time au naturel in the privacy and comfort of my home. Sometimes it just feels good to let my skin breathe and be free of the constraints of bra straps and waistbands. Allowing myself to sit with my bare body – on or off the mat – has helped me embrace it despite my scars, extra skin, and chubby upper arms.
 

Here are 5 reasons spending time in the nude can help you embrace your body and find serious self-acceptance:

 

1. Vulnerability is a good thing

I used to think vulnerability was a sign of weakness. I believed that it was better to protect myself from any potential harm, emotional or physical. I was terrified of allowing myself – my heart, body, and soul – to become fully exposed to new people and situations. I wrongly thought that the better way to live was closed off and protected.
 
The problem is that by protecting ourselves from vulnerable situations, we create a life that is less than authentic.
 
By being vulnerable and open to new experiences and situations, we welcome adventure, deep intimacy, and joyful connections. By sitting through the discomfort of being naked (alone or in front of someone), we might find that our vulnerability will shift towards confidence and empowerment.
 

The problem is that by protecting ourselves from vulnerable situations, we create a life that is less than authentic.

 

2. Perfection is an illusion

It is natural and normal to desire to have a body that we are proud of and want to show off, but perfection – when speaking of the human body – does not exist. There is no human body that is better than any other. Uniqueness is what makes our world so beautiful. Take time to be with and appreciate your body for what it already is – perfect.
 
Think about all of the amazing things your body does for you everyday. It supports you in every move that you make and every breath you take. Today, look in the mirror and revel at the beauty that is you. The shape of your legs, the roundness (or lack thereof) of your belly, the curve of your ass, and the scars acquired on your journey through life are what make you you. And you are beautiful.
 

3. Deepen the connection with your romantic partner

Being naked with your partner sans sex can be beneficial to your relationship with yourself and your partner. According to psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish, skin-to-skin contact releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which can help both parties feel more relaxed. Spending time in the buff can help you get more comfortable in your own skin.
 
When you are more comfortable with yourself and your body, you are better able to connect and be vulnerable with your partner.
 
Seeing your partner in the nude outside of a sexual setting can also change the way you perceive him or her and help you recognize that they too have their own vulnerabilities. Sharing and discussing them together can help strengthen your bond and enhance your communication skills.
 

When you are more comfortable with yourself and your body, you are better able to connect and be vulnerable with your partner.

 

4. In judging others, you judge yourself

Fear often leads us to judge others. The funny thing is, when we judge others, we are ultimately judging ourselves. It is important to care for ourselves both physically and emotionally. By negatively comparing our bodies to others, we damage our often fragile self-image. Ahimsa, or non-violence – one of the core principles of yoga – asks us to treat ourselves and others with love, kindness, and thoughtful consideration.
 
Each and every human is unique in countless ways, and that uniqueness is what makes each individual special and irreplaceable. If you have ever stood at the front of a room full of people in Downward Dog, you know that each person’s Down Dog is different. Different is not bad or good – it just is.
 

5. Become more honest, feel less alone

When we surrender to the fear of being vulnerable, we mask our true self from the world, which welcomes dishonesty and disingenuous connections with people you care about. By removing our clothes – be it at the sauna, a yoga class, or in your own home – and taking the time to connect with our true selves, we banish the masks and in turn invite experiences and people that are good for our soul.
 
By opening our hearts and letting go of the fear of vulnerability, it is possible to see into the hearts of others.
 
We all have a piece inside of us that we keep hidden for fear of being deemed flawed or unlovable. In taking the risk to share our vulnerabilities, we give others the permission and courage to do the same.
 

By opening our hearts and letting go of the fear of vulnerability, it is possible to see into the hearts of others.

 

 
One of the greatest and most beautiful things that yoga has taught me is that I am not just my body and I am not just my mind. Our physical and mental existence is in a constant state of fluctuation, and therefore, there can be no state of ‘perfection’ when it comes to human existence. Our clothing can become a barrier between ourselves and the world around us. By occasionally shedding that barrier, we can all become closer to the truth of who we really are – beautiful, spiritual beings having a human experience.
 

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5 Ways Yoga Helps You Find Self-Acceptance
When I began practicing yoga, my mind was in control of my body.… Read »

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Elisha Thompson

Elisha Thompson has her masters in Creative Non-Fiction Writing from Arizona State University. She is also a newly certified yoga teacher and loving every minute of her practice. Her Miniature Pincher, Harley, is her pride and joy. Elisha can usually be found at her computer, working on her latest novel. She fully believes that love is all you need and will one day save the world.

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