Some time ago, I shared an image of myself on Twitter, and one of the comments I received was to the tune of, “A clearer shot shows you’re getting more confident.” I’ve also had this kind of perspective said to me with regard to video chats. This along with a recent experience stirred reflection in me.
Here’s the thing: I am actually plenty confident and have no shame around my clothes free life or my body. But, I have to discern when and how to share myself. I would say especially because I’m a young woman, but I know men also have to navigate mindfully…but maybe still the whole being a woman thing, I don’t know.
When I first started my clothes free journey a year ago, I was indeed hesitant to post pictures of myself and not entirely rooted in self-confidence. At that point, I on Instagram with a locked account. But, check this out: most of the images I shared there were (and still are) actually clear as day: one could see me, face and all, just fine unless I just felt like playing with a photo editor for creativity’s sake. BUT – my lack of self-confidence expressed itself in jealousy and pulling away whenever I saw the images of other females participating in naked yoga projects. I was wicked jealous. They’d post their pictures, and I’d think, “Wow, my body doesn’t look anything like that. I’m not the white girl whose body seems to inspire responses. I’m not that flexible. My hair isn’t long and flowy. I don’t have that ‘come hither’ look that seems to intrigue people. I’m not the skinny bendy black girl.” So, sure, I posted clear pictures of myself, but I had zero confidence.
Over time, that has (and continues) to shift and heal. I love how I look, and I love that I’m in a continuous inquiry about my health. When I practice clothes free yoga, I feel like a royal boss. When I journal clothes free, I’m nakedly honest in my soul. Genius mode hits when I work clothes free. I no longer look at myself and automatically think, “I’m not her, her, him (yep) or her” all of the time anymore. I’m a really happy woman, folks. I stand firmly in my own beauty and power. I know who I am. I know I’m awesome, inside and out, mind and heart, body and soul.
Since last year, my platform usage has expanded outside of my locked Instagram account to a locked Flickr account, posting with Clothes Free Life (clothesfreelife.com) and an open Twitter account. On my locked accounts, I tend to share mostly clear images of myself, unless I just had the itch to play with photo-editing apps, because fun. In public settings such as clothesfreelife.com or my open Twitter account, I don’t, because I know that the likelihood of any of my images getting tossed around out of control is much higher. In fact, I found out that one of my images from a Clothes Free Life post that was about me taking care of my health wound up on a sex site. The image had nothing to do with that topic.
So, my choice on how I present myself is based on how much I want to risk my image getting scattered about. Sure, I know that at any point, really, my images could wind up on a Tumblr about goats for all I know. I had it happen even on a locked account just a week or so ago where one of the followers I took a chance on stole it without notice and posted it to their Instagram account which was public with 1,200 followers. I have less than 200. So, yes, I know there are really no guarantees. But, I value choosing how and when I want to take that risk. And my choice has nothing to do with “self-confidence” or “shame” about myself or clothes free life and everything to do with discernment around social media and the online space.
Another story: I’ve been participating in @iamreneewatkins / @nakedsoulyoga “Naked Soul Yoga Challenge” August 15 -29. I chose to participate in this, because the topic of focus is Suicide Watch – bringing awareness to the issue and promoting reflection and resources for help. This was very important to me, because I’ve been down that road. I’ve lost friends to it. I’ve met people through it. So, it was close to my heart. Last night, posted my contribution for the day (pic at left) with a personal reflection, and some guy just HAD to comment on my breasts. A personal reflection about suicide, and he just HAD to go for breasts. I know my breasts are awesome. I love them. And I don’t want people commenting on them one way or the other. I was like really?!?!
I mention this, because this is one of many considerations that I toss around in my head when deciding how and when to share my images and stories. I want to share in a way that promotes clothes free life holistically. I’ve connected with numerous great folks, especially on Twitter, who get that, who speak to clothes free life in that manner. However, when trying to reach others, it gets tricky. It’s a constant conversation I have with myself about what is most effective to move the bigger picture forward, and I just keep feeling it out for myself each day. Of course those kinds of comments won’t necessarily end, but they always make me reflect on how I’m sharing myself online.
When I spent time with my friend and mom in person in early spring of this year, I walked around unclothed, just myself. I didn’t hide underneath layers. And I walked around confidently and at peace completely clothes free when I was at Empire Haven, Gunnison Beach and Turtle Lake this summer. I felt so comfortable and at ease. And the folks I encountered said that I inspired them: mom, friend and women at these locations.
So, for me, the issue of how and when to share my images is not about my self-confidence. It’s about navigating these complicated channels in a way that is authentic to me and that moves the conversation forward in some way. It will always be an investigation and balancing act, and how I choose to do it will differ from others’, and I’m not interested in tagging people or their approaches as “right / wrong” or “good / bad.” I’m just interested in whether my own sharing is effective.
My goal is to share my clothes free life in an authentic, honest and wholesome way. And yes, I talk about ALL topics, but I am picky about how, when and with whom I engage each topic. I’ve had specific women, both on social media and in person, locked and public platforms, tell me that my shares have inspired them. How some of them “heard” about me and my clothes free life:
- clothesfreelife.com post
- social media, locked account
- in person & my posts on clothesfreelife.com
- in person, no idea of anything I wrote or posted on any online platforms
- complete stranger, word of mouth through a close friend
I only mention that to illustrate that different things I’ve been trying have been having a positive effect, one way or another. These women, for instance, have stepped into clothes free yoga, clothes free life or even simply gotten rid of some of the extras (e.g. makeup) as a result of reading my online shares or being with me in person. And that’s really what I’m going for: exploring ways to share myself that have a positive impact and that move the conversation about clothes free life forward. And that’s what inspires me from others.