Whether you’ve been with your partner three times or 300 times, had two dates or 20, getting naked in front of another can be a conflict-ridden experience. Heck, getting naked in front of a mirror can be a conflict-ridden experience. We may try to convince our partner that sex is more intimate with the lights off, or more novel with our dress still on, or that we don’t want to go on top for reasons other than our tummy. Sure, it’s one thing to feel confident in a flattering outfit. It’s another to be confident in lingerie or in the buff. Well, if you’re practicing yoga, you’re off to a good start: Several studies have shown that people who have a regular yoga practice are less likely to struggle with body-image issues and disordered eating; they are less likely to participate in what researchers call self-objectification; and they are more likely to feel connected to and confident with their bodies. So get bendy! And if you’re still feeling shy about rocking your birthday suit in front of your lucky lover, here are 10 more tips for doing it with the lights on:
1. Focus on ability and functionality, rather than appearance. If you’re able-bodied, practice gratitude for that. Think about how incredible it is that we are these biomechanical beings that can bend and run and dance and strut. Now dance and strut!
2. Do number 1. To empowering music. In front of a mirror. Naked.
3. Three things: Exfoliate, moisturize, bronze. All-natural and organic, of course. Healthy glow=good. Carcinogens=bad.
4. Find clothes that fit and flatter. Remember, no one can tell what size you’re wearing, but they likely can tell if you’re squeezed into something too small for you. If you anticipate losing weight, you can always get smaller garments in a few months.
5. Befriend your soft spots. You have two options: You can despise, detest, and reject your soft spots, your less-than perfect breasts, and your sagging skin; or, you can embrace the imperfections. You change the word “fat” from an adjective to a noun. You can recognize the vital role it plays in your health, comfort, and fertility. You can thank it for allowing you to sit without pain, and you can thank your body for being so efficient at holding onto calories (survival of the fittest! What did you think “fit” meant?). You can smile at your wrinkles, stretch marks, moles and scars, and think about the stories each would tell if it could talk.
6. Let go of expectation and pretend you know what you’re doing. Your partner can only read you from what he or she sees (and as far as they’re concerned, you’re the furthest thing from underconfident). As the saying goes, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”
7. Remind yourself that the models, actors and people in the media who set the standard are not the norm. That is their career. Their income is based on achieving and maintaining a freakishly “perfect” (by western standards) appearance. That is not the rest of the world’s job. It’s probably not your job. So take some of that pressure off. Phew.
8. Anxiety comes from uncertainty. Experience and familiarity builds confidence. Lock the door, turn up the heat, and spend some quality time doing everything in your house/apartment naked. Just make sure the blinds are closed, first, and warn your roommate, or else they might think you’ve lost it. Oh, and maybe avoid opening pickle jars in front your partner in the beginning (Seinfeld, anyone? No?). Want to really dive into your fear? Sign up to be a nude model for an art class. Now THAT’S exposure therapy!
9. Your partner probably isn’t Ryan Gosling (and if he is please ask him why he won’t return my calls). But seriously, they have their imperfections, too. If that doesn’t seem apparent, physically, know that they still have insecurities about parts of themselves, physical, emotional, mental—everyone does. Some are just better at self-acceptance than others.
10. Your lucky partner is pumped to be there. Let me ask you this: When in the history of ever has one partner watched the other disrobe then said, “Sorry. I actually don’t want to have sex with you, now. I expected you to look different underneath your clothes”? My point exactly. If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re going to be naked in front of the privileged other, they’re going to be far more turned off by your distracted attempts to contort yourself into a flattering position or refusal to be anywhere but concealed under several blankets. The hard part’s over! Now have some (safe) fun!