Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I have dreams about being naked in public a lot. (Some of this is probably just sensory bleed-through from sleeping naked.) I often feel stressed and try to cover myself up in those dreams. The interesting part to me is why I'm stressed, why I don't just stroll down the street with pride. I don't feel at all bothered myself by being naked, but I worry tremendously what other people will think. I don't cover the parts of myself that I want to hide, but the parts I think other people don't want to see. That is, I don't feel any shame; I'm just afraid of being shamed.

I'm not sure I can call this social pressure all wrong. Otherwise I'd totally talk about my poop in public. When I say I don't have an innate sense of shame, I'm not just talking about the fun parts. This blog has its own rules of shame, ones that I run into from time to time; I can take my clothes off here, but I can't say anything and get away with it. There's the poop issue again. If my innate shame is weak, the shame I feel from social disapproval is probably stronger than usual.

It colors my way of thinking, though. I'm simultaneously very comfortable with my body, and very uncomfortable with people disapproving of my body. Which leaves me basically just walking around my own bedroom naked, which is what I think most people do anyway.

It makes me wonder, though, about my assumptions of "most people." Do you cover up because you want to, or because you're expected to? If you were in a room full of people who were guaranteed not to bat an eyelash, not to even think bad thoughts if you stripped down--would you keep your clothes on?


  1. I'd totally sit around naked. (In fact, I have with friends who didn't mind.)

  2. I would prefer if clothes were a physical comfort only necessity.

  3. The short answer to your last question is no, I don't leave my clothes on in those situations and since I started visiting nude resorts, I have found a place where no one bats an eyelash to go to. As for your first question, I cover up when I feel it's appropriate and don't when it's not. FYI - other than enjoying a wandering around nude while I'm getting dressed, I'm not a "full-time nudist" in that I prefer clothes at home, to work, to play, etc.

    FYI - I'm a 43 year old, pretty average woman. From what I've seen of your photos, you and I have a similar body type (i.e. thick waist, smallish chest, round butt), the typical endomorph.

    I'm curious though about your distinction between "not feeling shame" and "not being shamed." Whatever other people may think, it is only your mind and psyche placing the value judgement that causes one to feel shame. As opposed to anger, where one can say "I don't feel anger at myself but I can see how someone else could be angry with me" or conversely "how they'd be angry at themselves in my place", shame or humiliation can only be felt internally and only by the person who is, in fact, ashamed of something. To me it sounds as if you're saying "I'm not ashamed of my body but I'm ashamed that I'm bothered by the disapproval others have regarding my body."

    The reason I'm curious is because body shame is something I've dealt with a lot in my lifetime and only recently (mostly) mastered it. In my case, the solution I sought out worked wonders, but it is clearly not for everyone. If you're interested, I wrote a post about it here --

  4. I'm comfortable being naked in not-bat-an-eye company, but only if it's warm! And there's still the sitting-down issue... I would go around topless a lot, though.


  5. It's cold here and my belt gives me a place to keep my gun, flashlight, and leatherman. Also sagebrush scrapes are really uncomfortable.

  6. I think I could be pretty comfortable standing around naked in public, but I'd worry about boners and sitting isn't always comfy without something beneath me.

  7. I feel much more comfortable covered up in general public spaces where covering up is the norm and I don't like to wear revealing clothing in public either, but I think that's mostly b/c I'm an introvert and prefer not to call attention to myself, not because I feel shame or am uncomfortable with my body (in fact, I rather like serves me well). I don't like to be the center of attention even in situations where it's expected or where it's supposed to be a positive thing (I loved chorale but hated singing solos).

    However, I have no problem being naked in a locker room where it's sort of a stage between one clothed state and another or showering in a big shower room instead of individual stalls (and I am surprised by how many grown women will try to get changed under a towel or under the other clothes). I love swimming naked or skinny dipping with friends (of either gender who I know are cool), I think nothing of changing clothes around friends (camping trips, shared hotel rooms, etc) and I like being naked at home, either alone or with my boyfriend.

    But I also have those dreams where I'm suddenly naked and feeling panicky about it and for me that's an anxiety thing...symbolic of something I'm struggling with.

  8. Yes, I'd keep my clothes on. I'm funny-looking and middle aged. I think I have a career opportunity in having people pay me to keep my clothes on. Sort of the anti-stripper.

  9. I would take it off easy. I find that I would have no problem walking around naked, But I fell more uncomfterable because I"m making other people uncomfterable.
    I find a lot, that I have to watch what I say and do because not much makes me unfomfterable, but quite a lot makes other people uncomfterable, and I hate making them feel that way.

  10. Most of the time I'd rather not wear clothes. My skin just hates having fabric against it. (Experimenting with different types of fabric doesn't help much.) I'm also not bothered by people seeing me naked either. However, I still have to wear things nearly all the time anyway (not counting sleeping), even a lot of the time around the house, because I live with someone who is nudity-phobic. And of course it's illegal in public, so I'm limited to clothing-optional beaches there. Which is a once-a-year thing due to distance and lack of time. So bleah.

    A lot of the time I'm unclad in my dreams, even in public. This is never anything noteworthy. The only thing resembling "modesty dreams" I've ever had were a few in which I felt uncomfortable being in public without a *hair tie*. (I wear my hair long but normally keep it tied back.)

  11. To tell the truth, I'd probably prefer to keep my clothes on not so much from shame ( I have a pretty good figure IMO, and I grew up surrounded by classical art) than because nudity doesn't offer much opportunity for personal expression( we've all got bodies, it's how you decorate them that shows your inner self), and being something of a vinyl/latex fetishist, most often people look far more erotic to me when at least partially clothed than fully naked. Nudity is as impersonal as a Greek statue and often physically uncomfortable since you're exposed to the elements and in the case of women like me with significant boobs, having stuff bounce painfully that would feel better held firmly into its proper place. I do typically get naked or nearly so, aside from bathing, when I paint because I find otherwise clothing seems to find ways to ruin both itself and my artwork no matter what I do.

  12. I specifically wear clothes fashioned for utility and protection most of the time. (Tough fabrics, extra pockets, etc.) Even if the "standard" were nudity or near nudity, I'd almost certainly still wear what I wear now. It's just how I'm most comfortable.

  13. My clothing usage is totally haphazard. When I ripped the hell out of some pants at a regular social gathering, I took them off and wandered about until one of the hosts lent me some cargo pants. I am also prone to removing pants there when cold.

    Breastfeeding gives me a rather different perspective on the social necessity of shirts than I had before.

    Mostly I wear clothes because I'm cold.

  14. I'm young, thin, and tall - and I would definitely keep wearing clothing because I'd get damn cold without it!

  15. I once attended a nude Pagan ceremony, about sixty people of both genders. We passed around a cup of apple juice, and the officiating priestess said, "If it's empty when it comes to you, bring it to the center of the circle for a refill."

    Well, it was empty when it got to me, and I brought it for a refill. Then it came around and it was empty again...and she said, "What, you again?" in a teasing voice, and everyone laughed. So I'm stark naked in front of sixty strangers who are laughing at me.

    It was really liberating. I now tell myself, if *that* didn't bother me (and it didn't, it was a very friendly crowd) why should I let lesser situations bother me?

    I have, however, gotten a lot more body-modest since adopting my son, because I now have an internalized social worker worrying at me, and they don't care for nudity. (The kid, on the other hand, was modest for the first year and then abruptly decided We Were Okay and now roams the house in his underwear, or less.)