How to look good naked and What is body dysmorphia
You’d think after so many years of living on planet Earth, we’d be ready for summer and yet every year, it’s always a surprise. Our relationship with our body is often heightened around this time as we expose every little bit of our self as a protection mechanism from melting in the relative heat of a toasty 20 degrees in the British sunshine. This summer is even more bizarre than any other we’ve existed in, because hello? Pandemic! Many of us either boozed, binged or busted our way through the lockdown as our normal coping strategies were stripped away. This plus the closure of places such as gyms, studios and salons has altered our relationships with our bodies drastically. We have also faced a time where we have had to limit the amount of people we’ve got naked in front of. We’ve either had to bundle down with one partner for the whole time (and I mean the whole 24/7) or no one at all. So, how do we look good naked again?
First things first, looking good naked has to be for you. You are the most important person in your life and you are the only person who sees you every goddam day. That being said, body positivity is really hard work when we’ve spent a life time being told we should strive to be a certain ever changing image which has been photo-shopped into the media. Aim to be body neutral. Acknowledge the way it makes you feel, tell yourself something that it does for you every day. “I appreciate my lips because they let me speak my mind” is one of my favourites. Affirmations can be powerful. Quote a few to yourself every morning, maybe in the bathroom mirror after you’ve brushed your teeth. If you’re stuck for ideas, you could try “I love my body and mind for everything it has allowed me to achieve” or “I am strong and my body is strong”. If you don’t feel quite ready yet, try something like “I am learning that I deserve to feel beautiful”. Our minds are very suggestible, so there is something to be said for faking it until you make it. The more you try and gently cajole yourself out of your comfort zone, the easier it’ll get in the long run.
Next, let’s talk about skin health and how that helps you look good naked. The skin is our largest organ, but often the most neglected. We take it for granted then hate it when it flares up. 2020 poses new phenomenon such as mask-ne and dried cracked lips. Get yourself an all over skin love routine based on the kind of skin you have. Oily, dry, combination – they all have slightly different needs. Our skin has its own cycle, so that means something that has worked brilliantly once, may not work so well at a different time. Don’t be disheartened; instead enjoy the opportunity to experiment. A standardised pattern of skin care can include cleanse, tone, serum, eye cream and moisturise every morning and evening, skin peels once a week or exfoliate 2-3 times per week (avoid doing both) and masks 2-3 times per week. For some people, this combination will be too harsh but it’s a good starting place. This can also be expensive, both in terms of time and money, so don’t feel guilty if it’s too much for you. You have to do what is going to make you feel best overall. The same love should apply to the rest of your body as well. Aim to exfoliate and moisturise 1-2 times a week to get rid of the old skin cells, it’s amazing how much better it will make you feel. The cheapest intervention to great skin is drinking plenty of water. Aim for 2-3L per day minimum. You can try flavouring it with fruit, ginger or mint if plain doesn’t do it for you. Something that goes hand in hand with skin care is hair removal. Again, this is up to you and what makes you feel comfortable. Never change your body hair because you’re worried about making other people feel uncomfortable, they should have better things to worry about. If you’re going to shave, make sure you change the blade regularly (it will say on the packet), definitely stop if it hurts! This means the blade is blunt or worse rusty, which can inflame the skin and cause infection. Caution that some hair removal creams can also cause irritation. Just to reiterate, your body hair is your choice.
There are a few other ways that can help you feel good naked. Exercise is one. The endorphin release, the benefits of the sweaty cardiovascular exertion and toning can all make you feel great. It’s important to find an exercise that suits you though. Dance, yoga, running, free weights – it doesn’t matter, just do it. Pick the one that makes you feel happiest, as the positive reinforcement will keep you coming back and reminding you how amazing your body is. Posture is an interesting one. If you speak to certain specialists, such as osteopaths, they will tell you that there is no such thing as good vs bad posture. However, other research has shown by standing tall (think head up, chest out), can lead to a subjective confidence boost. This is known as the superhero pose, and pulling it for even a few moments can give you the boost you need. A personal recommendation that I have for you guys is regular massage. Getting used to having other people touching your body in an intentional but non-sexual way helps you to relax into the normal contours of your shape. Whilst we are focussing on nudity, remember you don’t have to be totally naked to be sexy or to look good. For some people, a fantastic piece of underwear or something more functional, like a binder, makes them feel their sexiest. This is the best way to empower yourself.
Finally, regular masturbation is associated with an increase in body confidence and generally how positive we feel about ourselves. You’d think it would be because people who masturbate regularly do it because they’re body confident, but actually it works the other way round. The more you masturbate, the better your self-esteem becomes. Though the psychology behind this isn’t fully understood, it’d believed to be due to the fact that masturbation requires you to place your hands on your own body, acknowledging and appreciating it. The pleasure it brings is a great reminder of all the amazing things our bodies can do. Once we are able to consciously accept what we are capable of on our own, we naturally become more confident in our selves.
Something to note is that it is normal for us all to have times where we feel less confident in our body image. Occasionally, this can tip over to a pathological point known as “body dysmorphia disorder” or BDD. BDD is characterised by an intense preoccupation with a perceived flaw in your appearance. This can commonly include skin, breasts, hair, teeth, genitals and scars but is not limited to these areas alone and will focus on the idea of it being the wrong size, asymmetrical or just “not right”. People suffering from BDD often spend long periods of time worrying, obsessing and evaluating the area of concern, aiming to improve or camouflage the area. It is often an area that isn’t even noticed by others, but is intensely distressing to the sufferer, to the point that it impacts upon their ability to function in day to day life. If you think this may be you, then it’s important to seek professional help, either from a doctor or a therapist.
In summary, looking after yourself with affirmations, hydration and masturbation will make you feel good naked. If you feel good naked, then you’re guaranteed to look good naked.
By Dr Elesha Vooght