By: Christine Mason, Rosebud Woman
When I was a little thing my parents would release us naked onto the beach like most European children and we would clamber over rocks and play in the shore waters for hours. There was no self-consciousness about it at all. After being sexualized and shamed about my body in adolescence and adulthood, I stopped being naked in public. It seemed then a no-win situation: either looking externally good and receiving unwanted advances I couldn't handle at that point in my development, or looking too fat or lumpy or whatever and being judged. Somewhere along the line, I lost the feeling that my body was my own sovereign property.
Then, in my 30s, I started going to Burning Man, where I was naked in the summer sun for the first time since the age of 8. Shocker: the world didn’t collapse and I didn’t lose friends by exposing my stretch marks to the air. Then to the haute hippie outposts of the Esalen Institute and Harbin Hot Springs, where I would cover myself until the edge of the soaking pools, drop the towel and slide in as quickly as I could, shielded from full view by the water. Like anything one practices, being naked got easier- one day I discovered the perfection of laying on a hot stone and then rolling over and dropping into a cold Sierra plunge pool to float, tits up. At the end of the day, we still call going to bed “Naked Time”- as in “is it Naked Time??” - with more than a little glee.
Shame kills us slowly, shuts down our joy. A different way is possible.
There are some clothing-optional beaches near our farm and retreat in Hawai’i. We often go over early in the morning, plunge into the waves and climb on the rocks, and meditate sitting on the black sand. There are often head-to-toe-tanned old yogis or grey-haired mermaids snorkeling with the dolphins out beyond the break. My favorite places, however, are where there are no other people, where I can go alone or with a friend. There's this one little cove down the red road, where you walk in on a black sand jungle path, then reach and stretch, bouldering over an unforgiving volcanic rock wall, to reach a group of elevated tide pool baths overlooking the ocean. There, I strip down and full body stretch in the sunshine, slip into the water with the angelfish, float a little, then find a smooth rock to meditate with the background thrum of the sea, the salt drying and caking on my face.
This, my body born perfect, aging perfectly, still enjoys the sun and the water as much as it did at 5 or 6.
To all the women in their 20s or 30s or 40s, my darlings PLEASE do not waste a single day or moment disapproving of, hating or hiding on your form. Just go out and play. Feel it from the inside, don’t observe it from the outside. Love this life. Your body belongs to you. You are nature.
Photo by Tiger Tiger Studio courtesy of Rosebud