Over 45 and afraid to undress?

Raise your hand if you’re insecure about your body, particularly your naked body.

Uh huh. Just as I thought. That’s most of you. If you didn’t raise your hand, you are either:

A) Lying
B) Perfect
C) One of those super self-confident people who give the rest of us hives
D) Wondering why you would raise your hand when I clearly can’t see you anyway (spoilers)

As for the rest of us, our fears of disrobing range from getting mildly squingy about small flaws to downright paranoia. For some, the very idea of letting someone else see them naked is enough to cause a cold sweat. And it gets worse as we age, because we just aren’t as perky as we used to be. First, there’s that thickening-around-the-middle-thing that happens the day we hit 30. From there on in, things just keep spreading, shrinking, sagging and wrinkling.

But if you’re out on the dating scene and you meet someone you like, there’s a pretty good chance that, eventually, the opportunity for mutual nudity is going to present itself. And you are going to want to take full advantage of it. This means not only getting starkers but revelling in the experience. Let’s see if we can’t help you take the first steps towards feeling a little better about the idea. I enlisted help.

Carson Kressley, formerly the fashion guy from Queer Eye is the new host of How to Look Good Naked, an American version of the British series of the same name (premiering January 2008 on Lifetime). The make-over program teaches women to appreciate their bodies and their own nudity, without turning to dieting (blech!) or plastic surgery (eek!), all the while debunking the myth of perfection and celebrating female forms of every shape and size (yay!).

It’s all about women. But men harbor similar insecurities do they not? Yes, says Kressley. And no. “Guys have those fears too, but I think they try to put on a tough face and bear it, or ignore it. Women, rather unfairly I think, are under so much pressure to look a certain way. Traditional advertising promotes a certain body image that is unhealthy and unobtainable for most women, so the pressure is just so much greater.”

Kressley places some of the blame on the media and advertising. As we all do. It’s impossible not to be affected by all those images of impossibly skinny and cellulite-free (mostly 15-year-old) girls but we have to take a little responsibility for our own mindsets as well. You know those girls are young and that those images are CGI’d to within an inch of their likenesses. We know famous actresses have undergone myriad plastic surgeries. We know better. We should act like it. But that’s hard!

“I think as we age we become more fear based,” says Kressley. “We somehow lose that confidence we all had as little children. What I try to do on How to Look Good Naked is

make women forget about what they are ‘supposed to look like’ and just enjoy and focus on the great parts of their bodies. We all have that thing we hate, but we all also have that thing that’s great. Everybody’s got their something.”

Right, so focus on what you like. Maybe it’s your breasts, your eyes, your hair, your calves. Whatever it is, find it and make the most of it. And, adds Kressley, don’t be afraid to nurture yourself. It seems that these makeover shows, even if they don’t offer plastic surgery, have a load of money to spend on professional hair and make-up people, body treatments and an entirely new lingerie wardrobe. Many of us can’t afford all that business and even if we can, we don’t have the time.

“You have to have the attitude that says you’re worth it. Some things that don’t cost a lot but deliver that message to yourself could be as simple as a pedicure, some indulgent bath oils or an hour of ‘me time.’ We have to learn that nurturing one’s self is not a bad thing.”

So, we’re oiled up and pedicured. Anything else?

“Might I recommend a barrel of Margaritas?” Carson, we are so ahead of you. “No, just kidding.” Rats. “The key to being comfortable naked in front of someone else is to be comfortable with yourself first. As a society, I think we need to re-learn the way we view our own bodies and realize that just because they are not perfect, and never will be, that doesn’t mean they’re not beautiful. So go a head, get undressed, vacuum the living room and get used to that gorgeous body of yours!”

Naked cleaning is actually a great idea and quite a popular pastime I hear. The idea, obviously, is get naked alone. Wander around the house. Get comfortable.

When I ask Kressley how comfortable he is with his own nudity he says,

“Yeah with the right dimmer switch and some good lighting I look pretty darn good naked! All kidding aside, I was not comfortable with my body for a long time. But, you know what? I wasn’t comfortable with who I was. After coming out [as gay] and being proud of who I am, I really feel proud of my body as well. And now I realize all that time I spent worrying about it, when I actually was young and had a good body, was really a waste.”

Oh my Lord. Me too. I was never satisfied with my ass when I was 19. Thought it was too big. And now, years later, when it’s all lumpy and creeping its way to my knees, I WISH I had appreciated it when it was, you know, big but younger. But I didn’t and now it’s gone. And nothing will bring it back.

I WISH I had taken pictures of it and plastered them over the walls of my apartment. I wish I could tell it now that I loved it the way it was then. But I can’t. And if I could I would only make it feel bad for how it looks today.

We need to learn to appreciate our bodies as they are now, because they’re only going to get older, and then, 10 years from now we’ll wish we had given them the love they deserved.

And remember that everyone is flawed. Even Angelina Jolie. Even Nicole Kidman. Or the starlet of your choice. And whomever it is you’re getting naked with, they’re flawed too. And if they’re not, you’re freaking lucky, aren’t you?

“It’s not how you look,” finishes Kressley, “but how you feel about how you look. Confidence is what it’s all about!”

And Margaritas…

Article courtesy of Click by Lavalife.

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