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  • Writer's pictureJessica Childs

Why I Exercise Naked

I am going to be brutally honest here. The vast majority of time I have spent in this body I have felt like I was wearing a slumpy, jiggly, imbalanced, ugly suit. When I was 11 or so, a kind-meaning relative gave me the "feedback" that my thighs were getting huge and I should nip that shit in the bud. TYDU (too young, didn't understand). Shortly after that, the term "thunder thighs" became my internal name for myself. So began my lifelong obsession with comparing myself to what I "should" look like. Some of the effects of this sad self-reflection are:

  • I refused to wear bathing suits and lashed out at "those girls" who are "sluts" for prancing around practically naked on the beach. (read: I was jealous as hell)


  • I hid my body, even when I was fully clothed. This looked like slumped shoulders and "noodle" posture, holding my body in awkward positions that made me feel like I could minimize eyez on the size of my thize. (Now I have posture problems and weaknesses as a result of this long-term, internally-forced conditioning.


  • I hid my body, even when I was naked. Covering up with sheets and acting "coy" or "shy" by turning off the lights with my lovers. I avoided certain positions in sex just bc of the way I thought my body might look doing them (again, tearing other women down for being hoes for doing them === jealous)


  • I stopped running...at all...because my boobs bounced when I did

Seriously, with all of this running in the background, I had nothing left to enjoy any kind of sex or relationship when so much of my band-width was focussed on hiding and not being SEEN?>?>? The list of effects here goes on and on....

My shame-battered legs


One day, it appealed to my masochistic side to exercise in front of the mirror naked. I had spent my life avoiding any prolonged mirror-gazing because it inevitably brought up body-shame, which I then had to bury down deep in order to get dressed and go about my day. So why not commit to an hour of unclothed body-gazing in all of the different nasty positions that Tracy Anderson has me getting into? Out of a deep need for the macabre one afternoon, I did it. And here is what happened.


Yes....I was totally engrossed, captivated by the shame of my bulges and the bumps. I spent time indulging myself at the failure that was my body while doing leg lifts. I allowed myself to stay there, feeling into the hurtful inner dialogue that I had only allowed in fits and bursts, all the while working even harder to burn myself into shape. And then, in the midst of all of this loathsome self-hatred, something shifted. I think I finally allowed myself to complete the thought and actually move through the repetitive inner dialogue to the other side of it. I felt tired of it. My eyes softened and released down beneath the long-winded narrative. I started seeing something that, in hiding myself FROM myself, I had failed to notice : the shape of myself that peers out from behind the fat-layer of shame. Up on all fours with my leg see-sawing in a "fire hydrant" position, I saw the smooth tone of my ass muscles pushing up against the junk in the trunk. I saw the "six-pack" underneath the thin film of my mom-belly. I saw strength. I saw power. I saw ability and agility and spring and recoil. It was amazing! It was pure animal. I AM PURE ANIMAL! And it was hot and sexual and exactly what turned me on in my lovers' bodies and what I all of a sudden realized my lovers wanted to see in me. Of course they did! Who doesn't want to see someone's animal fire burning physically and hot?


I know you've heard this one before : Love your body no matter what it looks like. Well, I tried this for years and it felt more like a fight with myself than self-love. What I discovered is that it is more complicated than that. What worked for me was to go full-throttle into the experience of willfully seeing body in all of the shame and to allow myself to be curious about what else there was to see there. To embrace, even delight in the loudness of the "shadow"...and then allow what else there is to come forth too.

As it turns out, my body is both saggy and tight, weak and strong, human and animal. And underneath the shame of how I am supposed to look, there is a shamelessness that is pure and potent and sexy as hell. I love my body! Bring on the slut positions and the skimpy bathing wear!


I invite you to look in the mirror with all that it brings up for you and spend some time there. Really indulge yourself and don't run from your feelings. Feel them! You may find yourself surprised by what happens when you allow the feelings to just exist without pushing them away.


*As a side-note, bringing together all of what my body is, not just isolating my thoughts to the body-shame variety that plagues most of us, has allowed me to increase my health tremendously. It turns out that finding something delightful to anchor some of my body thoughts to has increased my capacity for taking good care of my body....and as a result I have lost weight and gained even more strength. It's paradoxical, as many things are, but allowing myself to really feel into the shame made it possible for me to have less to be shameful about.

xo

J



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