While recently scrolling through my Twitter feed, absorbing the usual mix of anxiety memes and Chrissy Teigen having opinions about foods, I came across an incredible set of photos. They were of the singer Lizzo, totally naked, and looking totally fantastic. Her caption: “I was feeling bloated so I took some nudes…. I feel great now bitch.” Suddenly a light clicked on in my brain. As counterintuitive as it may seem, could the cure for feeling self-conscious about your body actually be as simple as snapping a few naked selfies?
Lizzo, first of all, is an incredible person to follow on social media for many reasons. Her songs are all bops (you’ve probably heard “Good As Hell” on movie soundtracks or blasting from some cool person’s car windows) and her tweets and Instagrams provide a constant stream of body-positive affirmations and inspirational memoranda. (Sample: “All this time I been waiting on the game to change….when I’m the game changer.”) Also, you’ll never see anyone play the flute quite like her. Basically, I cannot help but smile whenever I see her do anything, whether it’s singing Ursula songs from The Little Mermaid or twerking in a Sailor Moon costume.
So after seeing her tweet about taking nude pictures when feeling bloated, I knew I had to try it for myself. When my body looks and feels puffy, my response is usually to hide, shrink, and do whatever I can to shut it down. (My to-do list immediately narrows to: 1. Put on sweatpants, 2. Put on Vanderpump Rules, 3. There is no number 3.) Or I try to somehow push through that icky sensation, forcing myself to go for a run, or hit the gym, or put on a pair of tight pants and go about my social life as if I didn’t feel gross inside and out. But this “take naked pics” approach seemed novel; rather than evading negative thoughts about my body, it suggests leaning into them—even celebrating them. Nudes = nowhere to hide, baby.
The next time I felt less than stellar about my body, I did the thing. Clothes: off. Skin: moisturized with Kiehl’s Crème de Corps. (If I’m doing this, I’m doing it with some smooth and hydrated skin, come on.) Lighting: flattering twinkling lights. Camera: the HUJI app, which automatically makes photos appear as if they were taken with a disposable camera. (It’s what Lizzo used for her photo shoot, and she looked fantastic.) In fact, a little digging around the internet revealed to me that HUJI is actually a low-key popular choice for taking naked pics to the next level. I considered the extra glow from the filter to be extra insurance of sorts for this bloated photo shoot—just in case I didn’t feel as great after mine as Lizzo did after hers.
The very act of taking those pictures of myself, for myself made me feel independent, badass, and really good about my body.
Ultimately though, after several dozen self-timer HUJI pics, it became clear that no insurance was needed—I felt a lot better! There was something appealing about relaxing in the nude instead of trying to squash, squeeze, or swaddle my entire body into anything mid-bloated state. The photo shoot was active and purposeful, and it didn’t require putting my body under a ton of stress by forcing it to do a million crunches or steps or whatnot.
And the shoot was definitely a way to re-appreciate my body in general. Sometimes photos can provide you with that “heyyy I look pretty okay” feeling that a mirror simply can’t. In fact, being able to look at them—at me—after the fact brought to life one unexpected and oh-so important result of the whole exercise: My favorite photos of the bunch were the ones where I wasn’t trying to suck in my stomach or pose to make myself look skinnier or my boobs look bigger. It was in the snaps where I was kind of letting everything hang out that I felt I looked best.
Furthermore, the very act of taking those pictures of myself, for myself—not for a boyfriend or a miscellaneous romantic interest—made me feel independent, badass, and really good about my body. The photos were only for me and that made them legitimately special. I’d recommend this to anyone looking to gas themselves up—because why the heck not? It’s easy (you don’t have to leave your house), free (even the app doesn’t cost a dime), and you will definitely be channeling the spirit of Lizzo when you do it. To paraphrase her, I feel great now (bitch).
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