Ahh, good old-fashioned nudity. The one thing that reduces grown men and women to childish giggles – either that or a slobbering, ogling mess that craves, well… you know what I’m saying. Nevertheless, it’s something we deal with on a daily basis and we should be more than impartial to it by now. But why aren’t we?
As a very naive 18-year-old fresh out of school, I took a trip of a lifetime to Japan on an orchestral festival tour in the summer (any budding musicians amongst you, I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out here). I’ll be honest with you – it was my first time being away from home for such a long time and it was a trip of many, many firsts. Sadly, I never worked up the courage to try live squid, but I did go to a Japanese onsen.
In case you’re wondering, an onsen is essentially a hot spring that comes with bath and spa facilities. Here’s the catch – the guests frolic naked in the open.
I had no idea what to expect when I plucked up the courage to go, but I was very relieved to find out that it was split by gender. My girl friends and I were each handed a robe and a towel, and shown to the changing rooms. Think high school style but considerably more sophisticated, with lots of lockers and LOTS of open space. Looking around, we realised that women were getting fully undressed, so this was clearly not a “I might be able to pretend my underwear is a bikini” situation. We went right ahead and got into our birthday suits, only to discover that the towel we had been given was the size of a tea towel.
It’s funny how nervous we are about getting naked with other people around, despite the fact that we all have the same goods underneath our clothes and we had no problems doing it as children.
Holding the tiny towel over our crotches in an attempt to preserve as much modesty as possible, we gingerly made our way down the stone steps to the main spring area, giggling as we went.
It was truly a sight to behold. Women of all shapes and colours walking around without a care in the world, shoulders held back and standing tall. Boobs of all sizes and sagginess were on proud display with no shame. Lady gardens ranged from a freshly mowed lawn to the Amazon.
Needless to say, my friends and I gawked like teenage boys. Still clutching that towel, we made our way over to the nearest spring and got our asses into the water as quickly as possible. The hot water was an incredible sensation, and we lingered there for a soak. All whilst desperately avoiding eye contact with anyone.
It’s funny how disarming nakedness is. Being nude is the most physical form of pure honesty a person could possibly display, and we find this so difficult. It’s interesting that this is mirrored in how we behave as a person too, and the way honesty is prized as such a virtue. Both with and without clothes on.
Somewhere along the carousel of hot springs, jacuzzis and air massage baths, I slowly started to lose my inhibitions. I sat back in that jacuzzi, letting my hands rest proudly atop my food baby. I smiled at other women as they walked past, and they smiled back. I sashayed and took my time making my way from one pool to another, rather than scurrying between the two and getting into the water as fast as possible. I’d actually forgotten where I’d left my little tea towel. I felt so at peace within myself, and the constant cascade of paranoid thoughts that I’m so used to had died down significantly.
Just by getting naked.
Maybe this is something I should do more often in my life. Not just physically, but emotionally. Getting emotionally naked with ourselves every so often is one of the healthiest things we can do. That honest talk with ourselves that we so often cast aside in favour of more urgent things or in most cases, things that would give us an excuse NOT to have that honest talk. Let’s not make those excuses.
I’m challenging you to get naked this week. Maybe after a few drinks with that cute someone you’ve had your eye on all year if that’s what it takes, but get completely, utterly, brilliantly naked with yourself. Be able to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself those questions you don’t like asking yourself. Talk about those things that manifest themselves in the dreams where you wake up sobbing and knowing exactly why, and the things that you don’t think about because it’s just easier not to have to deal with them right now. There is no best moment, right now is often the best moment you’re ever going to get.
Oh, and go to a Japanese onsen whenever you can. Seriously, it’s the bomb. You go girl.
Disclaimer: No images were used in this post, for obvious reasons. If you’re disappointed about that, you can check this out – it’s much more droolworthy than my naked ass, promise.