Monday, January 19, 2015

Would you dare to bare?

“You have to try the Lobster Pot,” my husband says. “Go on, no one is over there.”

At approximately 114 degrees, the aptly named Lobster Pot was the hottest pool at the Orvis Hot Springs. We had taken a family vacation to Telluride and made a side trip out of visiting Ouray for the annual Ice Climbing festival. After being outside all afternoon we thought it’d be nice to soak in the springs before our drive back to Telluride. I got out of the current pool I was soaking in and wandered over to the Lobster Pot. Lawn chairs dotted the property and a few of the other adults there were in them soaking up the sun and reading. This pool was the smallest and surrounded by a wooden privacy fence. I start to get in and as I do a guy about my age comes around the fence to soak in there as well. This pool is barely big enough for two people and despite my initial disappointment of not having the pool to myself as my husband promised I decided to be friendly to my fellow soaker.

He takes his towel off and he’s completely nude and gets right in beside me. Change of plans, instead of talking to him I close my eyes and tilt my head up to the sky. I’m boiling in the pot and my face is bright red and it’s not just from the water.

Orvis Hot Springs is a clothing optional hot springs. Not just clothing optional after dark like the Strawberry Springs in Steamboat, we’re talking all the time. I must have misread that in the brochure but was confirmed of this fact by our tour guide leading us onto the ground and seeing a slew of naked men wandering around. Did I mention we had our 22 month old daughter with us? I pride myself on being open to all things – nudity included and so I shrugged it off as I changed in the women’s locker room. Since Charlotte become old enough to be curious about her body and ours my husband and I have prided ourselves on telling her the correct anatomy for body parts. I don’t believe in making children, especially young girls, feel ashamed about their bodies and I want her to grow up confident and strong.

hiking Jud Weibe trail with Charlotte
Yet here I was ashamed of my body at a clothing optional hot springs.

Here’s the truth about breastfeeding – it gave me for a brief few months, the best breasts of my life. I’ve always been small chested and while it was an adjustment at first, I loved my new figure while nursing. Around 11 months, Charlotte quit on her own and a few weeks later I was left with a chest that looked like it belonged to something out of National Geographic horror and deformed women edition. If I were to be naked in the dark someone probably couldn’t tell the difference between my front and back. I can’t even speak to what my nipples now look like. When I look in the mirror I see something worse than before I had kids and a site not to be shared with anyone outside of my husband (who, like a good man reassures, ‘You look GREAT!’).

After seeing all the men walking around naked, my husband felt more comfortable NOT in his swimsuit. Of course in the pools, the entirety of his private parts were covered whereas mine would have been on display ripe for judging. Now if you know me, I’m not exactly modest and I lost what pride I had in the delivery room with my daughter. I wouldn’t even mind wearing a thong around the beach because I think my butt looks pretty damn good. I’m proud of my legs, my abs, and my arms and I don’t mind showing them off as well. The fact of the matter remains, I look better with a swimsuit on and that’s how I felt most comfortable even if I was the strange one that stuck out.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were women there totally nude who, in all honesty, probably had a lot more to be embarrassed about than I did. Women who were well in their 60s and overweight with parts that sagged and areas that needed a proper waxing. These women were walking around free as a bird not caring who was looking and probably welcoming the attention of those who were. Then there were the younger girls who clearly weren’t afraid of piercings and I’m not talking about those above the neck. Men, of course were the majority and when anyone would come up and talk to us and Charlotte in the bigger pools you forgot the fact they were probably naked underneath the water. Because at the core we’re all just people and we were born naked and it’s society who tells us to cover up and leads us to believe nudity is shameful and entirely sexual.

I wanted to go nude. I really did. I went topless at Strawberry Hot Springs but that’s because it was clothing optional after dark and I was still nursing and a fan of my breasts then. I found myself wondering if other women my age felt, or would feel this way? Is nudity something we’re more comfortable as women flaunting when we’re younger and then much older? Is there an age bracket on timeline of life for, “I just don’t care and anything goes” and does it bracket, “I’m ashamed of what I see and I don’t want others to judge”? I made all sorts of excuses in my head that day about why I didn’t go nude – that my daughter was there and I’m a mom now, that I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, that no one cared either way so what did it matter. Yet at the core I wondered if I missed out on teaching Charlotte a valuable lesson – be comfortable in your own skin no matter how saggy, misshapen or stretched out it might be.

So my friends, is wearing a swimsuit really just silly? Is going nude freeing and the way God intended us to be? Would you dare to bare it all if you had the opportunity? I vowed that when I get the chance to go back I’ll work up the courage to love myself and my body enough to embrace and own it. I nursed a child and I teach 12 classes a week, 8 of them being spin and it’s hard to keep fat on my body in my chest. I’ll never have large breasts unless I get pregnant again or pay for them so why stress about something that will never be other than what it is? I believe as women, no matter what our size, we’ve been trained by society to be fearful of what we see in the mirror especially when it comes to showing our truest self to strangers.

The rest of our family trip was an amazing and I’m so thrilled we took the time to get away. Telluride and Ouray in the winter are full of magic and opportunities to explore, eat wonderful food and take in the small town hospitality. This trip was very freeing…and next time I’ll be sure to make it even more so.


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