The world would be an incredibly uninteresting place if every person looked alike. Yet, instead of fully embracing our individuality, many of us spend crazy amounts of time and money trying to look like those who we feel are more attractive than us. I was once guilty of this destructive behavior myself.
Some may blame my physical disability for causing me to have had such a poor body image but statistically, 91 percent of all women are unhappy with the way they look. So, I’m not sold on my disability being the cause and it really doesn’t matter anyway. The important thing is, I got over it. I made that body image demon my bitch. It wasn’t easy though.
I’m not a conventional kind of person so I only briefly entertained the idea of a conventional solution. It’s great that there are trained counselors and therapists who specialize in body image issues. I roll to the beat of my own drum though and needed to find my own way of learning to appreciate and embrace my own unique beauty.
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Facing problems head-on without any fluff is pretty much how I roll – no pun intended — this time. To help me face my fear of not being viewed as attractive or desirable, I consciously put myself in the most awkwardly uncomfortable situation I could think of.
I went to naked Pagan camp. Ok, it’s not really called “naked Pagan camp” but that’s basically what it is.
Before I continue with this personal success story, it is helpful to know that nudist establishments and clothing-optional establishments cater to two different communities. I opted to join the clothing-optional community, which simply means that any state of dress or undress is totally acceptable. Adding the twist of Paganism to this already colorful scenario provides even more opportunity for mind opening experiences.
My first night there I stayed fully clothed and just observed this strange environment I had submerged myself in. I saw men wearing only t-shirts and mud boots. I saw a woman wearing nothing but a wolf hide. There were even nude children running amok with foxtails dangling from their little behinds.
The majority of these characters did not look like models featured in adult magazines. They were just regular folks without clothes. Yet, they were all peaceful, happy and beautiful. Their lack of self-consciousness made me feel totally at ease. I was determined to learn their secret.
We’ve all likely heard the expression “fake it ‘til you make it.” Well, the next day that is exactly what I did and all I wore was a skirt and a smile. Oddly, for the first time in my life, I felt like I blended into the crowd. The feeling of fitting in was more bizarre than being half naked among a few hundred strangers. Nudity suddenly became a non-issue.
Evening came and the communal bonfire was lit. The full moon provided a spotlight on the hand-drummers, belly dancers and all the other lovely characters.
Every body type imaginable was vividly represented. The scene was a combination of National Geographic and Dr. Seuss, and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.
That moment in time changed me forever. Embracing life to this degree filled me with more joy than I had ever experienced. There was no more room within me for judgment toward myself or anyone else.
Appreciating everyone’s differences instead of rejecting them, makes life much more enjoyable than I ever imagined. This epiphany overcame me. I ripped my clothes off and started dancing around the fire with the rest of the community.
Never again did I feel self-conscious about the way I look. Every area of my life has improved exponentially since I decided to love and appreciate myself for who and what I am. Some may argue that my self-confidence now borders on egotistical. I say, it’s not my fault if they choose not to see the depth of my multidimensional awesomeness. Do you see yours?