This week in the USA, a Playboy model was found guilty of invasion of privacy in her attempt at body shaming a fellow gym member. While in the locker room of her gym, she took and uploaded a picture of an elderly female showering. On the uploaded image she wrote, “If I can’t unsee this then you can’t either.” To her credit, she later apologized. But the damage was done by then. The incident is one of many recent news stories about narrow-minded people body shaming others. And it makes me think about the body positive attitude that stems from naturism.
Naturism’s body shaming antidote
Let me begin by stating clearly that body shaming happens within the naturist world. Yet naturists seem to have more of an acceptance and appreciation for all bodies than society at large does. As anecdotal evidence we can have a look at the Facebook or Twitter feed of most nudist groups. They proudly show photos of bodies in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. And comments left are overwhelmingly supportive if not down right celebratory.
Why is this? I believe it is simply because the more bodies you see nude, the more accepting you become of all the variations. This happens with anything, really. Repeated exposure relaxes our defensive — intolerant — judgement and normalizes that to which we are exposed. So the more time you spend among nudists the more you’ll see the incredible spectrum of diversity that the human body is capable of. And you grow to admire and treasure this variation.
For those who have not practiced public nudity due to embarrassment about your body, don’t worry. When you are among nudists, you are with others who have taken that giant leap to show the world their bodies. They understand that it takes courage and a sense of worth to do so. And they generally honor and applaud the effort it requires. Veteran naturists, it’s our duty to help them realize this.
In the same NPR.org article referenced in the first paragraph, the owners of the gym decry the model’s actions. “Appalling” is the word they used. “It’s not just our rule, it’s common decency.” Of course this is complete bullshit. The fitness industry has built its fortune on body shaming. Or even more sinister, in getting us to body shame ourselves so that we enthusiastically hand over money to them to get us bodies like those Playboy models. Without the sense of shame and inferiority that most people have about their bodies, such businesses would never survive. Rarely are they actually about fitness.
Admittedly, the USA has a serious problem with obesity. This is extremely unhealthy and needs to be addressed. But this is best done by showing the benefits of being fit. Not by making us want to look like nude models from a magazine. Being told that you should look runway-ready and then seeing your very normal body in the mirror just brings deeper shame. And guilt.
You are beautiful
As an alternative, go for a long naked hike — or swim or whatever — with other naturists. You’ll get fit and perhaps see others who help to reassure you that your body is fine. And if you decide that it isn’t fine, I hope it’s because you feel you could be fitter. Not because you underestimate the body of you.
Remember, all bodies are amazingly unique works of nature and that you are beautiful. Body shaming be damned!