During times like these it’s easy to feel down about the way we look. Separated from loved ones and distanced from normality, many of us are missing the comfort of touch and physical affection. After working from home for the last few months, we’re feeling the absence of routinely spending time on our appearance in the morning, and pyjama days have found us swiping nostalgically through the camera roll at photos we’ve taken trying on new clothes in shop dressing rooms. So how do we start to feel good about ourselves again when the world around us is still full of uncertainty?
Capturing a moment when you feel good about yourself is a reminder of that self-assured feeling in times when confidence is fading.
I remember reading an interview on i-D’s website in 2014 where model Myla Dalbesio was asked if she found it weird looking at beautiful images of herself. Her reply brought clarity into my mind, and an understanding that it’s not vain to enjoy looking at yourself or to want to take photos of your body:
"It's really satisfying to see pretty pictures of yourself. Actually I recommend doing just that if you're going through a dark, self-conscious moment. Create an image of yourself that makes you feel good. Put it in a folder with other pretty pictures of yourself. Page through it from time to time and think about how radical you are. People may call that narcissism, but you have to learn to celebrate yourself! It gives you power that translates into all other parts of your life."
– Myla Dalbesio1
At the time of reading her words, I was 18 and struggling to feel confident about my reflection. I started taking photos of myself and saved them in a folder in my phone, hopeful that I’d achieve the self-celebration Myla referenced. The more images I took, the more I began to appreciate my appearance, and the more confident I felt in my own skin. Now, I am 24, and taking similar photos of myself during quarantine has helped me to reconnect with my appearance. Celebrating yourself is a combination of self-love, care, respect and acceptance of your mind and body, for how they are, without comparison to other people or their opinions.
If you are self-isolating, unable to go on dates or visit the person you’re in a relationship with, sending a (solicited) nude is a great alternative.
Taking nudes is often thought of as a sexual act, seen as something for the sole gratification of the recipient. It’s a way to sustain intimacy with a partner in long-distance relationships or couples who don’t live together, but is similarly stimulating to single people flirting with love interests, casual or otherwise. Framing our bodies for the pleasure of the gaze at the other end of the phone is an intimate and sensual act; finding an angle to position yourself to take the photo is an electrifying rush, and sending the message is as adrenaline-inducing as receiving the reply. Simply put, sending a nude to someone you fancy is sexy.
A nude can also mean more than just something sexual – it can be a powerful method of self-care. Capturing a moment when you feel good about yourself is a reminder of that self-assured feeling in times when confidence is fading. You are the star of your own camera roll! Staying at home, putting on our favourite clothes, makeup and/or taking a saucy snap are things we can do for ourselves to boost self-confidence.
Finding new ways to admire our bodies is not vanity; it’s empowering. Being familiar with the appearance of your own naked body and the way it feels is important for identifying changes that may occur, especially to breasts and testicles. Feeling comfortable in our own skin helps to connect with ourselves and, most importantly, means we make no apologies for our appearance.
1 Myla Dalbesio, interviewed by Tish Weinstock for i-D here
Further reading on self-image: