Since it appears that everyone on the internet has watched Saltburn at this point, I’m here to do some very important, timely journalism and find out: How does one feel so comfy with their naked body that they’re able to bop along to the entirety of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor” in the nude?
If you saw that scene and your first thought, like mine, was along the lines of, Huh, I wonder how freeing it would be to confidently dance around naked, immediately followed by a wave of insecurity, you’re in good company. “We’re born into this world without clothes and only develop self-consciousness and embarrassment about being naked as we grow up, due to a variety of factors, including cultural messages and family and religious influences,” Nichole Wood-Barcalow, PhD, an Ohio-based psychologist and the co-author of the Positive Body Image Workbook, tells SELF. (Not to mention that diet culture’s pervasive narratives, specifically—including the constant barrage of unrealistic body standards on social media—can make it really hard to feel good in your bare skin.).
As normal as this learned self-doubt is, though, it can also keep you from enjoying life—and getting off. “Research tells us that feeling confident and self-assured leads to greater sexual satisfaction and pleasure,” Emily Jamea, PhD, LPC, LMFT, an AASECT certified sex therapist based in Houston, tells SELF. These findings make sense, Dr. Jamea says, because confidence can make it easier to speak up about what you like and don’t like in bed, for example. Plus, it’s a lot easier to relax and enjoy yourself if you don’t have a nagging critic in your head, she adds.
Feeling uncomfortable when your clothes come off can mess with your head outside of a sexual relationship, too. Poor body image and low self-esteem have been linked with greater social anxiety, for example. And as someone who has struggled with this issue in the past, I know how quickly feeling bad about your body can lead to self-isolation and, in my case, not wanting to leave the house (viva la bedrot, but still). So for the sake of your mental and, perhaps, sexual well-being, I asked a few experts for some practical tips that’ll help you actually, really feel better naked.
Spend more time naked—or maybe half-naked, at first.
One way to feel better naked is to…take your clothes off. “You can’t get comfortable with anything if you don’t do it very much, and the same principle applies to being comfortable in your own skin,” Dr. Jamea says. She suggests starting slow, by getting ready in the morning without a shirt on if you normally cover yourself head-to-toe, for example. If that’s too much, try walking around your house in your underwear or a bathing suit at first. When you start to feel more confident, or at least neutral, in those scenarios, you can then gradually remove articles of clothing until you’re ready to go full-frontal, she suggests.