Allie_HeymannWe all have some weird habits that range from fingernail biting to eating “victory” breakfasts on the morning of a big test. Pretty much everyone has something unique they like to do when no one’s watching.

And what’s mine you ask? After I shower, I like to sit around naked for a few minutes before getting dressed.

Sound strange? It shouldn’t. I think that there is something amazingly empowering about being naked. From looking at and examining our bodies in the mirror, to just relaxing in on our own skin, being naked is a powerful and natural way to be.

Every time I enter a Yates or residence hall bathroom, I am simultaneously accosted and informed by the infamous Stall Seat Journals. The one in the Yates women’s bathroom hasn’t changed in the past few months, and it sports a real scary set of statistics about weight and body image. It is difficult to imagine that one in every five women has an eating disorder, or that four out of every five women look at themselves in the mirror and see a heavier person than in reality.

Another interesting tidbit I gleaned from said Journal is that while the average American woman has gotten more curvaceous, the average runway model has gotten skinnier and taller. Even plus-size models are five or six sizes smaller than they were 30 years ago. These statistics infuriate me for a variety of reasons. Where were the statistics about health or happiness or sanity? While body image does in part stem from the media and the modelling industry, it is also a product of confidence, comfort and general well-being.

Now here is where the nudity bit comes in. I have been kidding around with friends for the past few days about how being naked in and around the house is one of the most fantastic things in the day-to-day grind. Stripping off the clothes and expectations and frustrations and stress — that is, being naked — is a necessary part of healthy living.

When I was talking with a friend, she confessed, “I am not an incredibly secure person. In fact, I find that I am increasingly insecure about many things, from my Facebook presence to my physical presence. Yet, despite my fear of unflattering pictures (with chins and thighs and such), I love being naked. I delight in simply feeling cold, in showering, in doing mundane tasks without a stitch of clothing.”

In high school and in college — and increasingly in the years leading up to and after these time spans — social media has become the lens through which the rest of the world sees us. We are opened up to critique and pain, and we constantly assess our validity through picture likes and comments.

These are arbitrary standards of beauty, but the most frustrating part of social media sites is that they are “confidence-strippers.” Despite being strong and independent and healthy, we still worry about our Facebook personas and Twitter personalities. And every time an unflattering picture goes up, we feel that little hit of embarrassment (regardless of our outward weight or looks).

At the end of the day, the most important question remains: Are you happy and healthy? The answer to that is far more important than “Are you pretty?” or “Are you skinny?” To supplement this piece, I stumbled across an article on a website called MindBodyGreen: “Five Reasons to Get Naked Daily.” I encourage you to read it in depth. But here are the basics: Nakedness allows you to own your story, to embrace your completeness, to experience vulnerability, to show your unique beauty and to face your fears. I completely agree, but I also believe that nakedness is singularly empowering.

By being alone with our thoughts, our choices and our bodies, we can reflect more deeply, live more fully and feel truly strong. Also, have you ever just done some naked cooking? If you haven’t, give it a try (I recommend a specialty grilled cheese), and see if you don’t feel the confidence flowing.

Allie Heymann is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Through the Glass Ceiling appears every other Friday.

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