Last week a girlfriend of mine posted 3 photos of herself in the nude.
Miss beautiful Power this piece is for you x
In 2001 fresh after finishing my A Levels I went intertwining with one of my dearest friends. (Actually no we didn't, we went inter-railing but sometimes iPhone typos are too good to delete).
One of our destinations was a valley in Croatia in which we arrived alive. No small feat after hitching a lift with two men who turned out to be blind drunk, one of whom had a penchant for wielding a dagger of a blade in front of us as his friend swerved across the unlit roads.
As we arrived at the camp we were welcomed 'home' (as warned), by someone in the nudey buff, (not warned). I think my friend who had recommended the Rainbow Tribe to us had forgotten to mention one crucial fact: folk don't wear too much clothes there. So for the remaining 2 days of our stay there my friend and I clung tenaciously to our clothes like the good public school girls that we were. We thought we were doing okay until one morning whilst washing in an ice cold valley stream a large naked woman with a magnificent rising bush approached us and asked us to bathe her. She passed us a bucket - which, not wanting to offend her, I dutifully filled and poured over her and then exited pronto with my friend to the land of the clothes wearing people. Moral of this story: Clothes I'm not ready to leave you yet.
Fill in the next 8 years with a lot of yoga, a bit of dancing here, a bit of dancing there, some travel and one striptease lesson and my body & my mind were relaxing a little. So that that tenacious hold on my clothes, started to get a little looser.
In the Christmas period of 2009 I travelled to Hawaii to practice Ashtanga yoga with one of the original Ashtangis. After morning yoga sessions by the ocean I'd head over to the water strip off a little and lie in the sun and swim. Although being fully naked felt too radical for me, it felt rather wonderful to be outside without my bikini top. I liked feeling the water wrap around my upper body as I swam in the sea and I enjoyed the feeling of lying on the sand with the sun warming my body and best of all: no bikini marks!
And then in 2011 I spent 3months relearning how to be a yoga teacher and when we weren't practicing I would hang out by the pool which had rather flexible sartorial options which went something like this: want to wear swim gear? Do! Don't want to wear swim gear? Don't!
It was during these 3 months, that I also got to take part in circles where us women would stand in front of other women and talk about the parts of our body we felt ashamed about and also the parts we liked(!) which was terrifying and challenging and healing and liberating and ultimately resulted in some kind of softening about the very brutal way we relate to our bodies.
It was also a summer I hung out for the first time on a nudist beach in Corfu where I went for a week to assist a Tantra workshop with my now ex-boyfriend. So that what felt scary at first (Oh Christ, nakedness) started to feel incredibly relaxing and liberating. (Oh we're all naked! Yerhoo!) And this is where one of the paradoxes of being nude arose: because somehow being naked and in the company of others you don't really care how your butt or breasts are looking because you are enjoying how good it feels to be naked by the sea.
Whereas, and of course this is just my experience, when I'm in a bikini I'm worrying if my breasts look too big or if my bikini top is flattering or not and if my waist wobble is wibbling too much over my bikini bottoms etc ad infinitum. But somehow when you walk and play on a beach where clothes arn't needed you feel much more relaxed in yourself. I'd even go as far to say that the more connected and accepting we are of ourselves the more accepting we are towards others and no where is this more true then when we are hanging out on the beach, no clothes needed. It's where I feel at home.
Because really trees don't give a damn about the dimples in our thighs. And the sun doesn't look away in shock at how large our nipples are, or how big or small our butt is. And the ocean isn't going to withdraw or point and wave because your skin is blemished or your top lip too hairy or your penis too small or your balls lopsided. In fact: it doesn't given a damn at all. Partly because when we run naked over the land, our land we are really nature expressing its wish for motion. And when we dare to walk the lines of the land, lines that rise and soar and dip and meander through our bodies we are that motion and our bodies are our most true reflection of that.
So if you go down to the beach today and see a radiant lady leaping about with her white dog rejoice, for there is a woman delighting in the joy of being alive.
And so yes this piece is for my friend but it is also for girls and women and boys and men learning to accept their bodies in the face of some serious adversarial freakery. It's for you too you gorgeous mothers who gravity has proved that yes all things do fall south - just a little bit more swiftly & permanently then we were hoping for. And it's for you, all of you, who are rising after the operations and accidents and wars and butchery that have changed the landscape of your bodies from what you thought was you and it's for you, all of you whose bodies have been abused and used an neglected by others who had no right whatsoever in doing what they did. And for every courageous relentless step you make in claiming back your right to be present in your body. And finally it's for you: every woman and man moving step by hesitant step towards not only accepting our bodies, but maybe even rejoicing in them.
LFraser.com is sprouting! Please share with friends who you want to head to the beach with. No clothes needed. Oh go on.
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