This blog entry comes, after a recent trip to the lovely country of Iceland, full of volcano’s, hot springs, and women that seem very comfortable with their bodies.....
Now, I am at risk here of making incorrect assumptions but hear me out.
Now we are talking about a country that doesn’t have a McDonalds, or strip clubs, or casino’s as well as apparently 65% of children being born outside of marriage, same sex marriage has been legal since 2010, and gay couples are free to adopt, as well as being home to Iceland, and Europe’s first female president. There is a long list of things great about the internal workings of this country, but I’d like to talk specifically about nudity.
*Disclaimer, if any of these facts are incorrect, please feel free to correct me in the comments section below, these were found during online research
During my trip, I had the pleasure of swimming multiple times throughout the 9-day period I was there. I was informed, before entering the changing rooms, that things are slightly different- you get fully naked, and shower without a swimming costume, before entering the pool. Now, for someone as shame-free as me, any opportunity to be naked in public is fine, although I do have my own issues with my body, I’ve never felt that amongst other women, and have always felt comfortable in front of friends/family/partners with being naked (Naked UNO has cropped up a couple of times at various parties). However as much I do feel comfortable with this, I can already think of a handful of friends of mine that absolutely would not, and would find this very difficult. And I really want to know why.
As I was showering, in a room full of other naked women showering, of all ages, from young girls, to elderly women, I couldn’t help but notice my own surprise. I had to rack my brains to find the last time in my memory I had been around 1- That many naked people, and 2- Naked women that aren’t my age. Now, don’t get me wrong- it does happen here in the UK, in Gyms and pools etc, but I wouldn’t say I was totally wrong by saying it is not necessarily the norm. As I looked around the room, at the various shapes and sizes, It was refreshing to see just naked women, doing their thing, just being bodies in space. As a woman, I have to remember I am subjected just as much as the next person to the over-sexualisation of the woman’s body, but I hadn’t realized myself by just how much. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw normal naked people, not airbrushed, or wearing lingerie, or holding a handbag. And I suddenly felt incredibly sad.
I want to see, normal, naked women, become part of how women are represented (or not naked is also fine, just to clarify). I don’t want to walk into a changing room and either myself feel fearful about being naked with other women, or be with friends of mine that feel nervous about being naked with other women. Ladies, if we can’t bear all to each other then the patriarchy has truly won.
Now I’m not saying bear our bits and compare vaginas at every given opportunity, but I am saying pay attention. The amazing women we all surround ourselves with daily are real, and underneath those clothes we are all carrying the same organs and skin and hair around with us. We cannot be afraid of each-other- of not commenting on unfair standards of beauty, that anyone that works in a fashion magazine will tell you is not real. (Not that there is not incredibly beautiful women, of course there are, but that these images are also airbrushed/altered etc.).
What is wrong with looking at an older woman’s naked body, why doesn’t that deserve to be shown and seen? I can’t wait for my body to tell the history of my past, teenagers and children should be looking up to adult female bodies, and looking forward to getting curves, and boobs and bums, rather than fearing after their teens after puberty they are going to be ‘too curvy’ for what is deemed beautiful, or relying on women's bodies in the media to inform how women should look.
We are not enemies to each-other, your body tells a story, I know mine does, my stretch marks from my weight loss (Student diet), My tattoos, some more successful from others, my scar from my appendix operation, My birthmarks, each of which is part of my identity as much as my hair, nose and eyes. If we are serious about changing attitudes about how women’s bodies are perceived, then we have to realize how we as women are a part of that, And if you’re ever in doubt, there’s always a plane trip to Iceland to remind us how easy it is to be naked in a room full of people in a totally normal environment.
These images of women have been skewed; there is no such thing as normal. We are all entirely different and Thank God- there are plenty of articles out there telling us ‘big is beautiful’ and to ‘love are lumps’ all of which I’m all for, but I’m also saying to seriously pay attention. Look at the women in advertisements, in magazines, in TV, are they airbrushed? What images are they selling to you? And wouldn’t you prefer something real?
This trip changed my attitude to my naked body; I want young girls in the changing room to look at a confident adult who is not afraid to hide her body, to look forward for her history to be told in her body too, not to hope to one day be splayed naked over a handbag.