Owning Your “Naked” Truth
What my Sphynx taught me about being naked.
As a legit crazy cat lady (it’s been verified), I can say without a doubt that some of my greatest lessons learned are because of my fur(less) children. Loyalty, resilience, acceptance… the list of lessons can go on and on, but there’s a lesson only one of my cats could teach me. And that was how to own being naked.
And it can’t be easy to do when she’s surrounded by all furry siblings. See, even though all of them share the fundamental makeups of a cat, by Luna’s nature of being hairless, she becomes different. I can just imagine the snarkiest of our cat’s mental noting, “do not lick that one. whatever. you. do. do. not. clean. that. one.
But it’s more than just her obvious physical differences that set her apart. She requires a lot of work. Physically, she needs to be bathed, her ears and eyes cleaned. She needs her nails clipped and cleaned. She needs access to A LOT of food because her metabolism is higher than the rest of the cats. While her furry friends are sleeping on the hardwood or chilled tile floors, she is huddled beneath a blanket… often alone. And unfortunately, her mom and dad kind of treat her like she’s this breakable thing rather than a cat.
Whoa. That’s some heavy cat trauma shit right there.
And yet… this cat.
She will climb anything her siblings do.
She uses her differences as leverage (more treats, dad? Oh, snuggles, mom?).
She struts around like she owns the place, even if she is the smallest animal in the house.
She’s the first to start a play fight between her siblings because she ain’t scurred.
Hell, she even joins in fights the other cats are having.
She’ll turn around and demand snuggles from her siblings.
She will raise her voice when she wants something or has an opinion. [How so much noise can come out of that little body is a mystery to me.]
My naked cat has somehow embraced what makes her different and in turn, it makes all of us (even the furry siblings) love her that much more. She totally owns being a naked cat and letting it all hang out because she is secure in her support system and life.
To make the connection of my naked cat and my naked truth, I have to take you back a bit.
I, like so many others, struggle with body image. There are years where it consumes me and other times where it’s just a dull-ache of shame. But I’ve started to realize that embracing and owning my body is a lot like how Luna did it.
Over the years, I’ve thought of my body in many ways. Sometimes, I’m kind. Most times, I am not.
Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate.
I was so mean to myself (and sometimes still am) but taking steps to recover and embrace differences has me talking nicer to myself these days.
How did I do it?
Like Luna, I needed to learn to embrace all of me.
I needed to believe that my differences (body, heart, mind, experiences…) make up only a fraction of who I am as a person. But I realized that if I was giving a majority of the slices of my mental health and energy to hating them, I was pushing out things I love. That was step one.
Step two was realizing that physical beauty does not equal happiness and it has a lot less value and worth when it’s just a construct built by society.
I could probably dig deeper on that entire theory, but for the sake of this article, I’ll just say this…
I’m learning how to ignore what society says is “beautiful” just because they said it is so and learn how to evaluate beauty by *my* standards like kindness and vulnerability and connection. Those are the kind of people I find beautiful, so why haven’t I been showing myself the same grace and compassion? I am kind. I try to be vulnerable when and where I can. I have built my entire recovery on connection. I possess all the things that make a beautiful person in my eyes, but it took me a very long time to believe it.
Even though I feel that my body is boringly average — maybe a little softer belly than I’d like and I wouldn’t complain about perkier breasts or 20/20 vision — I think about the things that make it a beautiful body.
The art that adorns my skin like a canvas. I literally have the pleasure of experiencing art every single day when I look in the mirror. With just a twirl, I’m transported back to the time and place where the ink first touched my skin. I remember how I felt at that moment. The reasons that brought me to the chair. Then I remember that my art is also a show of bravery. It takes some balls to move forward with something that is on your body permanently. Art and bravery… is beautiful to me.
My lopsided, uneven breasts with gnarled scars. But to me, those scars are just one of my stories. A story of a girl taking back the control of her self-esteem. Making a choice that was right for her, despite what anyone else (including society) would say. In a lot of ways, my breast reduction was the start of a personal transformation that led me to where I’m at. The scars are a reminder of where I’ve been and the strength and courage it took to make the decision and take back control of how I felt about my body on my terms. That’s beauty to me.
It’s funny to say since I can hardly even curl my own hair, let alone style it beautifully, every day, but I love my hair. Not for how it looks to others… but for the way it makes me feel. I love the sensation of lathering up and washing my hair. The aroma of the expensive shampoo and conditioners I buy (#sorrynotsorry) filling the steaming shower. I love the silky feeling right before I wrap it up in a towel. Somehow, I always know right when to let the towel down so that my hair is not soaking but delightfully damp. When I’m lucky, I get a few lingering moments of my shampoo’s scent. Anything that fills my heart like that is beautiful. Even better when it comes from just being me.
I don’t talk about my sex life usually, but if other childhood sexual abuse survivors are reading this, I want them to know it’s possible to recover from sexual insecurities, painful sex and psychological blockers to sex. Because I’ve been there. And it sucks. But in all transparency, I truly believe that once I started to see myself as beautiful and worthy of love, admiration and yes, pleasure, my mentality and sex life greatly improved. Feeling loved by my husband truly and completely makes me feel good. Safe. Beautiful. I love a good compliment every now and again, but he doesn’t make me feel beautiful with cliches. He makes me feel beautiful by loving and accepting me for who I am, even when I have a soft belly and lopsided boobs. This is so fundamental, you guys. And yet, it’s lacking for so many of us. Love and acceptance can be enough to change our perspective on ourselves and thus, our sexuality.
See, when I break it down like that, the essence of beauty, for me, is learning to love ourselves for the right reasons. So step three was (and is, because we’re always a work-in-progress) that beauty is appreciating the flaws and scars and lopsidedness, and seeing the struggle and truth and saying to yourself,
“Yes. You’re still worthy and you’re still beautiful.”
Though I admire Luna’s confidence in owning her nakedness, I’m not sure that I’m ready to “let it all hang out” as she does. But I can say now that if someone ever catches me in my birthday suit, I won’t apologize for not meeting some standard that doesn’t hold any weight for me. Because who I am is beautiful. Inside and out.