I’m admit it: I’m totally shameless.
I’ll strip off anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Pretty much like The Goodies.
It comes from a background in singing and in sport. Both activities in mixed gender groups. In both I had to get changed real quick a lot of the time.
After a few times feeling real self-conscious and doing your best to hide behind a towel or in a corner or whatever, you soon come to realise that nobody else actually gives a damn, because they’re too busy being self-conscious about their own bodies. Or they don’t give a damn because they’ve been there a while.
And then you get a bit blase about it, and realise it really doesn’t matter. It’s a body, deal with it. And you start stripping off regardless of who is there. A few days / weeks / months later on (depending on how insecure you were in the first place), you’re there stomping around in your Birthday Suit with the best of them, like you own the joint.
And trying to feel empathy for the newbies in the corner, shivering behind their towels, trying to cover up.
All this taught me a few lessons early on.
It taught me that there is no human body on earth that is perfect. Not even a supermodel’s. And certainly not a celebrity’s. Without photoshop, they look just like the rest of us, complete with flabby bits, wobbly bits, and Bits They’d Rather Forget.
Photoshop has a lot to answer for, when it comes to making people (especially women) self-conscious.
I also realised, having seen my body and a whole lot of other womens’ too, that mine is actually kind of good. I’m pretty lucky like that. I have a lot of pretty sexy bits that are a part of me. Men seem to love my body too, and they certainly love what I do with it.
Chances are, your partners love what you do with yours too.
When I’m with someone, I tend to focus my attention on their great bits. Everyone has great bits – trust me on this.
In other words, I perve on the bits I like best. Everyone does this. So chances are that whoever you’re with probably hasn’t noticed your OhMyGodMyThighsAreSoFlabby or IReallyHateMyShouldersChicksHateGuysWithRoundShoulders or your I’mSoFrickingSkinnyShe’llHateMySkinnyLegs or your UghMyTummyIsSooooooFat!
Your partner is too busy looking at the good bits (the bits they particularly like, even MORE than the rest of you!) and thinking “Phwoar! I am soooo getting lucky tonight!” 😉
So get over it. You’re okay. We’re all okay. See that chick over there? She’s damn sexy. And him? Yeah, he’s a hottie. And them? Yep, hot as hell.
Now, let’s move on…
What has this to do with Paganism?
Certain Traditions in Paganism practice ritual nudity. This can be disturbing, confusing, embarrassing and scary for newcomers.
The whole “Do I look?” and “Should I look?” and “Where do I look?” questions rear their heads. Sometimes other parts rear their heads too. LOL.
These days, a lot of younger, eclectic groups have ditched the “Let’s Get Nekked” thing, with the claim that it was just a fixation of Gardner’s (Gerald Gardner was a founder in modern Paganism – you can read about him a bit here), so it really isn’t relevant to us any more now he’s, like, DEAD and stuff.
I don’t agree.
Clothing is a shield. Not just against the weather. Clothing is a type of mask. It enables us to pretend we’re something other than what we really are. It can make us appear more grandiose, or more intelligent, or more approachable, or wealthier than we are. It can both give and take away status.
For example, how do you think people would respond to the Pope if instead of looking like this (and yes, I know it’s the “old Pope”):
He looked like this? and yes, I *know* it’s a different guy, but I’m making a POINT here!):
Suddenly, when he’s naked, he’s much more approachable, more frail, more vulnerable, more human. He’s not a Divine Representative at all. He’s just a naked old dude. Same as everyone else.
It’s a lot harder to be pretentious when you’re there naked in front of everyone, and they’re naked too.
That’s what ritual nudity does. It’s a leveller. It enables us to see people as people. We see their whole selves, everything that they are. They can’t hide behind robes or jewelry. Nudity is acceptance of what we are: our humanity, our vulnerability, our mortality.
Attraction and difference
With ritual nudity, we’re also more aware of the attraction between members of the Circle, and especially between men and women if the Circle is mixed-gender. That’s fine: it’s normal, it’s healthy, and – in a setting of trust and sacred space – totally normal and acceptable.
Within the Circle, ritual nudity can facilitate freedom. It can give us the strength to be who we really are, warts and all. We can accept imperfection, because when we look around we can see we’re all imperfect.
And yes, it’s okay to look 😉 (Just don’t stare like some whacko stalker type.)
I think the human body is a work of art. I dislike Photoshop immensely, for the reason that it takes away the imperfections and so-called “blemishes” that give us our uniqueness, our humanity. In Photoshop, all female bodies look alike; all male bodies look alike too. In reality, all bodies are different, and their differences give them beauty.
When I think back on the lovers I have had, it has been their uniqueness that I have cherished and appreciated, not their ability to look like a cardboard cutout.
Anyone can look like a supermodel with the help of a little (or a lot) of Photoshop. But to be comfortable and sexy and wonderful in your own, human skin, that takes someone real special.