I’ve seen my housemates naked.
No, we don’t live in some whack-o nudist colony, where we welcome guests into our home with, “Be a dear, please remove your shoes and knickers before entering, thanks”, nor was it through a key hole to the bathroom like I had originally planned, when I was feeling unsure of what a woman’s body looks like. Instead, much discussion was had about this topic over the dinner table.
If the only reference women have to female nakedness is ourselves, ourselves five years ago and the media’s mystification of women’s bodies, it’s no wonder we are curious about body normality. We’re clapping with one bare hand.
Another realisation I came across, was that I’ve seen a number of boyfriends walk to and from the bathroom hangin’ out, and am more familiar with the male physique than I am with my own gender. Similarly, men have seen far more breasts, belly button rings and bottoms than we women ourselves. This kind of naked-exchange is usually in a relationship dynamic, so does that mean we can only experience nakedness in a sexual context?
As a mainstream girl living in the 21st Century, I’ve received many negative messages about being naked. The scolding “put some clothes on!” to girls in mini-skirts, the breastfeeders being cast out of cafes as though mothers are intending on swapping the soy for their own and the idea that the #nomakeupselfie is as far as women can go to exposing themselves. These social stigmas only highlight issues with nudity girls like me have.
But how do we know what it really feels like to be naked when so often you’re experiencing it alone? It’s like that age-old philosophical proverb, if a woman walks around the house naked, and there’s nobody there to see her – does it really feel like anything?
After another personal conversation housemate to housemate, woman-to-woman, sister-to-sister, I found out that nipple hair is in fact an areola accessory for everyone. This was a shocking realisation, as I had spent a good portion of my womanhood feeling as though I was abnormal for this sprouting stubble, and no matter how much I plucked, out came the full moon and I would turn once again. I was annoyed that the social embarrassment that surrounds our bodies can have such a detrimental effect on how we view ourselves.
If only I knew what ‘normal’ looked like, then perhaps me and my friends wouldn’t feel so confused about scars, ingrowns, cellulite and other lumps and bumps.
This is when I suggested that my roommates and I should strip down and not hide our bodies like they’re a big secret. Also keen for the experience, they were onboard. We share a home together, food together, jokes together, tears together and well, why not?
Off came bras, down went trousers and on came the TV (what’s Q & A without a little T & A?). Of course we laughed about the situation at first, and pointed out cliché ‘areas’ like the roll of fat that blobs on your tummy when you sit down, the fascinating patterns that moles come in and the satisfaction in knowing that we all have ‘ugly’ scars somewhere. But what started out as – let’s be honest – a somewhat perverted experiment, where subconsciously I probably just wanted to see who had the perkiest boobs, it became less about how other people looked and more about how I felt.