Sunday, January 06, 2013
(I was originally going to post this under the Look Better Naked team message board, except I realized that my answer got more than a little off-topic. Therefore, I decided to post it here, where I know it won't get flagged for going on a tangent!)
I look at myself naked all the time. Not because my body is super-fabulous (oh, hell, no), but because it's mine and it's a part of taking care of myself. Y'know, stuff like making sure that the cat scratch isn't infected, and that those freckles on my back are just freckles and haven't changed shape.
I think any squeamishness I might have felt over nudity was cured in art school, when I had to draw all sorts of nude body types. I've seen men borderline-emaciated, with defined ribs and hipbones, and women much larger than my largest, with pillowy breasts and rolls of flesh on their thighs. When you're breaking down a naked body into basic shapes in order to obtain correct proportion and perspective, it does change how you look at it. You aren't looking at the subject in judgment, wondering how little or how much food they're eating, or what they do all day when they're not posing. No; you're wondering how to best translate their figure on paper, how to make their charcoal image appear lifelike.
So when I look in the mirror at my naked body, I'm observing proportion and tone and the modeling of light and shadow as much as anything else. Being short but with a large skeletal structure, I can actually carry a little more weight on my body than someone slightly taller but with finer bones. I'm about 125 pounds today; since I've been significantly larger than that (between 60-90 pounds larger), I have loose skin. Not to the extent that gastric bypass patients experience, but my underarms are wobbly, and I will never leave the house without a bra! (I totally miss the magnificence of my fat body's boobs, sigh.) However, I love my back--it looks so strong!
It's very easy to go all negative about your body, but you know what? It's the only one you've got. Scars, stretch-marks, moles, freckles, flab and all--it houses your spirit and propels you through the world. Instead of feeling ashamed of your perceived flaws, try to see your body with an artist's eye and find something positive about it. Love your shoulders, or the dip of your navel, or the crooked tips of your fingers. Maybe even try drawing yourself while sitting in front of a mirror (clothing optional). I promise, it can definitely be a transformative experience.