I’ll admit it: the first time I was in a room with 900 naked women was a shocking experience.
I was shocked because I was in a room of 900 naked women. But that was only a fraction of what peeled my eyes open. As I gazed upon the cornucopia of bodies – different ages, sizes, shades, and, of course, the incredible variations on, well, hairstyle – the most shocking thing was realizing that every woman was far more beautiful naked than clothed.
In fact, it seemed that as each undressed, her body became the temple of the goddess Herself. As my eyes roamed the ocean of real bodies, full of dimples, stray hairs, stretch marks, and other adornments, I had one of the most powerful erotic experiences of my life.
It broke me open and gave me the permission to rip off my clothes and dance with the pleasure of a woman whose body had turned into a temple of the goddess.
But when I left the party to slip into the washroom, I found a group of 20 or so women, fully clothed, who were hiding from the scene outside.
“I would never,” said one.
“I just can’t,” said another.
“I’m just here to pee,” I said as I squeezed my way past them.
I listened to their sacred circle of fears from my spot inside the stall. I didn’t speak to them. Just washed my hands and left. But their presence stayed with me for years.
I wish I had had the words to say to them what I’m saying now. Such is the case with spiritual initiations – in the moment we are experiencing a transformation, we don’t always have a way to describe it to others. But in the years since I integrated all I learned from that parade of bodies, I’ve re-enacted that scene in the washroom many times.
In my fantasy, I offer a soft touch on their shoulders. I lead them to the mirror and ask them to name each of the parts of their bodies that they feel should not be shown. Then, I would bathe those parts in compliments and kisses. I would ask them to caress those most despicable parts until the shame has been wiped clean and they fling the door open to join the dancing. In my fantasy, I would impart to them what I am about to impart to you: the things you think of as your imperfections are actually the sexiest things about you.
Real is the New Hot
We’ve become so airbrushed, close-uped, nipped, and tucked that we forget that real humans don’t look like the ones on our screens. In real life, unfiltered, unadulterated, we are puckered and plump, flecked with moles and bumps, covered in scar tissue and painted in a unique palette of color.
Yet to a trained eye, it’s the latter, not the former, that is sizzling hot. Here’s why: Real is far sexier than anything made in a (computer) lab.
When we dare to love our bodies not in spite of our so-called imperfections, but because of them, we embrace ourselves as humans with stories that are written on our bodies. And while we may think that people are attracted to a Hollywood-style perfect 10, what most of us really desire is someone who can wear their tattered and torn skin like a badge of honor.
It’s all In the Eye
Admittedly it takes work to train the eye to see the value in imperfections (surprise: it can take work to value the good stuff too). But it’s a type of endeavor that will lead to something – confidence, self-assuredness, and comfort in one’s own skin. And that is the sexiest thing anyone can offer. It starts by simply looking.
A mirror is helpful here (unless it’s not). Start with the happy parts, and soak them in all your attention, one at a time. Offer them words of affection and gratitude not just for how they look but for what they have done for you and how they hold your story. Touch them in ways they are craving to be touched – don’t be afraid to give them exactly what they want. These are the high points in your story – the beginning and the end.
Then, move to the neutral parts, the okay stuff. Add some color to them through kind words and touch. Remind yourself of the ways they hold your story too. They are the backdrop, the secondary characters. Any writer will tell you these are vital to move the plot along.
Finally, only when you’ve buffered yourself with all the self-love you can muster, look at the parts that you absolutely hate. From the very bottom of your heart, pull out a few words of praise for each of these, maybe a message of gratitude and some touch. They’ve been holding up the role of the villain, and trust me, those are the ones with the best stories to tell.
Once you’ve grown your garden of self-admiration, look for someone who shows themselves to be trustworthy enough to join you for a stroll. Ask them if they are willing to witness your body, your story. If they hesitate and withdraw, walk away. But if they respond with any form of yes, draw them very close and be willing to extend the generosity of your gaze to their form – look upon their skinny legs, big belly, soft ass, imperfectly placed mole, crow’s feet, gray hair, stretch marks, and more as marks of their beauty.
One more thing before you go – be prepared for this work to never end. The moment you find tenderness for a part you once hated, you’ll find another enemy in the mirror. It’s only a Herculean task if you forget that Hercules was tricked into doing his work by a cruel and vengeful goddess. You, my friend, have a different kind of motivation at your back: a chance at falling in love with your body, warts and all.