Skirt The Issue - Dare To Bare

Sometimes, showing what's on the outside helps
you see what's inside.

By: Kristen De Deyn Kirk

A large, droopy behind was the first thing I saw both times I arrived at Ivor's White Tail Resort, and both times I broke into nervous laughter.
How unusual to see a man's naked butt, the gluteus maximus of a man I didn't know, on a tree-lined country road without a building in sight. And how unusual to know that I would soon provide someone else with a view of a woman's butt, the gluteus maximus of a woman he or she didn't know—and most likely wouldn't be tempted to want to know, because that behind isn't lifted, firm or attractive.

Maybe there's a chance it was sort of, kind of cute back in 1995, when I first visited the nudist camp out of curiosity. I was 28 then; 15, OK, 20 pounds lighter, and all about me.
It's not so much that I was consumed with my looks. Yes, I did compare myself to every woman I saw, and most times gave myself a failing grade, but thoughts about my physical beauty (or relative lack thereof) didn't lead me to exercise, diet or shop for new clothes or make-up more than once every two years. No, I instead was obsessed with the fact that I hadn't published anything in The New York Times and hadn't written a book and wasn't beloved by readers worldwide. Why wasn't I living up to my potential? Why wasn't I birthing my brilliance for all to see? Why wasn't I a success six whole years after college graduation?

With my brain beating itself up, my body couldn't help but absorb some blows. I might not have completely hated myself back in 1995, but there was a lot of not-liking-myself-so-much going on, a lot of not-seeing-the-glass-as-half-full.
And today? How do I feel about this middle-aged body that has somehow become mine? The word that repeated in my head as we drove to White Tail: Meh. Meh. Meh. This bare-all outing was needed to provide me with a more definitive idea—beyond "whatever"—of my self-image.

On our first visit to the camp, we attended an open house and were free to cover up until four in the afternoon. We had hour after blissful hour to adjust to everyone else being nude—and to learn how to keep giggles from sneaking out of our mouths. Still, I would have liked another 100 hours or so.

When the time came to disrobe during that visit, my stomach zoomed, plunged and flipped like Busch Garden's Griffon. I climbed in our tent and contemplated breaking the zipper so I could be "stuck" waiting for a repair man.

My next idea was more realistic: Take off my clothes, and don't look down. If I didn't see my naked stuff, it wasn't there.

On the way to the camp this past summer, I planned to do the same thing: Wait a long, long time to peel off my clothes. (And I do mean peel, because the temperature was in the high 90s in early June.) The stay-clothed option was open to us since we again chose an open house weekend to attend.

But Hubby felt that people would stare more if we were clothed, and he's not a fan of standing out in a crowd. He wanted to drop his drawers the second we arrived. And I, once again, wanted to puke. Instead, I stood in a shaded area, blocked from everyone's view by our Toyota Tacoma and made my mind go blank.

Just rip off your shirt, I told myself. Don't think. Just do.

Now rip off those shorts ... those underwear ... that bra.

Now put on sunscreen, lots and lots of sunscreen ... rub it in ...

Oh no, what is that man looking at?

What is he looking at?!

A slim, middle-aged naked man was leaving the pool complex and walking across the parking area, and his head turned for just a second. His eyes darted past a tree and through our truck's windows to the other side where I stood—and my whiter-than-whiter, nearly-deflated-balloon boobs hung.

He was looking at my boobs! Ack! My boobs!

How dare he, I thought. How gross. I am not an object.

Panic consumed my mind, but my cheeks (on my face, people, on my face!) started to lift. And I was smiling. Nude and smiling.

Insight number one of the day: I had a little something a stranger found worth looking at, or at least glancing at. And I think I liked it.

But my temporary positive self-esteem was nothing in comparison to the other visitors' and residents' (yep, some folks live at White Tail; February has got to be cold). About 60 people had gathered around the pool complex. Most were middle-aged or older and walked with the confidence of someone who knew the ropes of public nakedness, their strides steady, faces relaxed, hands not covering private parts. Some played volleyball, some cornhole (tip: divert your eyes if the players decide to bend at the waist when retrieving their thrown bags instead of bending at their knees), and many reclined on deck chairs and soaked up the sun.

As we vegged by the pool after a game of cornhole, Hubby and I could have discussed many things—the book I had with me, our kids, politics, movies—but I succumbed to the temptation to people watch. And, at first, every glance equated to a plummet in my confidence: My legs were shaven, and my armpits were hair-free, but one other area was barely trimmed—and I stood out like a grizzly bear at a hamster convention.
Magazines had been telling me for years that other women were trimming, shaving and waxing until they looked like a 12-year-old, but I couldn't be bothered. I figured that at a place that was all about being natural and unencumbered, I would find my kin.

Insight number two: I figured wrong—and why was I worrying so much about it? Yikes. I used to think only my husband cared about standing out in the crowd for the wrong reasons. Now here I was wanting to fit in, even when I didn't agree with the latest trend. Was this really me?

First needing validation from a stranger's glance? Then feeling like I'm back in seventh grade, desperate to do whatever it takes—Hello, Brazilian wax—to be popular? Am I really that insecure?

With more people-watching and more thinking as I lay back on my chair (trying to look relaxed), I started to focus on all that I've done in the 15 years since my last visit to White Tail. I still haven't made it into The New York Times or worldwide readers' hearts, but I have gotten much more active. I've taken spin, yoga and kickboxing classes; completed a half marathon; birthed two children; breastfed both for about a year; cared for them around the clock with little sleep; played baseball, basketball and soccer with them; and swam, danced and did gymnastic stunts with them. Fifteen years ago, my body hardly worked for me. And now it's working for three people—and bringing us joy. The New York Times and world-wide readers be damned: I am a successHRM

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