I am opposed to nudity–my own more than others. I guess I don’t like the exposure. I have body issues–I am constantly disappointed that I have a human body. I am disappointed I am not a muppet. Or a tiger. Or a titan. I am often disappointed that I am corporeal at all.
My dislike of nakedness sometimes extends to others as well. I find the human form attractive and interesting–so much that a figure drawing class with nude models was one of my favorites in school. But, I have this thing when I see groups of animals. All I can think about is how much poop they are holding in their bellies. A sleuth of bears, a colony of penguins, or a pack of dogs all register as roving digestive systems. Sometimes when I see humans naked–especially when grouped together but also as individuals–flaunting their furless, featherless and often distended bellies, all I can think about is the quantity of feces lingering in their large intestines.
Despite a near obsession with water because of these nudity issues, I reached my thirties with nary a skinny dip on my record. One fateful evening as part of the sort of girls-only affairs I’ve done my best to avoid most of my life, I dipped a naked toe and then the rest of my body into a manmade lake in Nowhere, Missouri.
Which seems like a prelude to something sexy sexy, but instead it was quietly one of the most defining moments of my life. The women I was with and I each dropped our towels before getting into the water. Some of us tiptoed toward the lake, one of us cartwheeled. It felt momentary but purposeful. Suspended in warm summer water we giggled and chatted, all dressed in nothing but the night sky that reflected off the water.
The feeling of being naked in water is unlike being in water in another state of dress. It is primal and pure. It is one of the few times I have felt entirely human and entirely feminine. The vulnerability of being naked kept me locked in to the group of women I was with versus swimming off into the silence as I did earlier in the day when more appropriately suited. Nakedness held me close to my humanity and kept me part of a larger group.
Bobbing like a dozen or more buoys surrounded by algae and stars, we formed a temporary sorority. In the flotilla of our femininity, I suddenly recognized my body as something a little bit magical. Not because of super strength or blue felt skin. On that night our nakedness was purely human, and it was kind of beautiful.
Even though we were probably all full of shit.