A Reflection on "Sexy Nudes" and Loving the Skin I'm In

by Kamaya Thompson

I have the best friends anyone could ask for. We live in different states, but talk everyday like we live under the same roof all thanks to our group text messages. We talk about everything in our group texts: relationships, jobs, family… you name it! We especially love sharing photos with each other—from selfies, to the funniest Instagram meme. It’s one of the small ways we constantly keep in touch.

Among the many things we share with one another, our favorite topic is “sexy nudes.” Let me tell you, there ain’t nothing like a hot body poppin’ up on your phone after a long day at work! The sight of sexy smooth skin on your screen is sure to take away the stress.
It all started with an image of tall, muscular guy leaving very little to the imagination. My friends exclaimed, “YASSSS!” along with comments of their dirty thoughts. Personally, I wasn’t too interested, because I don’t walk on that side of the street… but meh, he was all right, I guess.

Of course, my considerate and inclusive friends recognized this and sent another photo right behind it. This one, of a curvaceous woman in a tiny bikini, with breasts, hips, and thighs that were out of this world.

“WHEW!!! YES, GAWD! She’s beautiful,” I thought to myself.

Suddenly, a shift in my spirit occurred. What makes these people beautiful? As I stared at the photos, I couldn’t help but realize I wasn’t really attracted to these bodies. After all, my girlfriend looks nothing like this woman. I look nothing like this woman. I’ve changed and my perception of beauty has been altered. Thus, I no longer desire the “perfect body.”

This then made me question, “What is a perfect body?”

At 24-years-old, I am learning to love myself. Truly. None of that, “New Year, New Me, Iyanla Vanzant kumbaya” bullshit. I am learning to stand naked in the mirror and tell myself that I love who is reflected back at me and truly mean it from the top and bottom of my heart. A victim of low self-esteem and eating disorders, I can recall thinking I was fat as a size 2. So by the time I gained enough weight to fill size 14 jeans, I thought I was the ugliest person on the planet. Today, I stand comfortably in a size 10 and I love myself now more than ever before. Sure, I have areas I need to work on. I want to tone my abs and arms, but I love the skin I’m in if I never set foot in a gym ever again.

My body is perfect just the way it is.

So what’s wrong with glorifying a fit body? What’s wrong with admiring someone with tight abs and a slim figure? Absolutely nothing! There is nothing wrong with glorifying someone else’s beauty… as long as we find that same beauty within ourselves.

I noticed that our sexy nude group messaging extravaganza was telling a sad story. Too often, when asked to define a sexy body, we choose the body opposite our own. We “say” we love ourselves, but our actions scream that we don’t. When seeking examples of a sexy body, we do not seek out photos of a person with stretch marks, back fat, scars, cellulite, and a gut. When asked to send a sexy nude, we do not think to send a photo of a body that resembles our own.

We live in a world that idolizes Photoshopped bodies. We train our minds to see the unrealistic as beautiful. As a result, this teaches us that the realistic body—our body—is ugly. So when it’s time to seek love from others, we do not search for it in people that look like us. And when the “perfect” body finds us unattractive, we agree.

We do not see their beauty in ourselves.

You may be thinking, “Whatever, Maya, you trippin’. It’s just a picture. Admiring a picture of someone with a six pack does not mean I love my fat/skinny/hairy/cellulite-ridden body any less. I love myself fully and I know I gotta love myself before I can love anybody else…” Blah, blah, blah.

… So prove it.

The next time you’re surfing the Internet, looking for your #WCW and #MCM to post on Instagram, choose the picture of a plus sized woman in a bikini or the man with a hairy chest and a beer belly. Choose a flat butt and sagging breasts. Choose lanky legs and wobbly stomachs.

Better yet, the next time you want to share a sexy photo, I dare you to post a picture of yourself.

Photo: Shutterstock

Kamaya Thompson (AKA Maya) is a Southside of Chicago native. She is a writer, filmmaker, poet, and professional Netflix couch potato.

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