The Breast Archives’ debut screening at Northampton’s beautiful and historic Academy of Music was a magical event. The evening was the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication, not only to the project, but also to the community of women it serves.
Of course, it was exciting to sit in the theater surrounded by the love and support of hundreds of women and their companions, but it was even more thrilling to watch those same women love and support each other. The women of The Breast Archives took the stage for a panel discussion at the film’s conclusion, fielding questions and sharing their experiences. Their candor was inspiring to all in attendance, especially to the women who were moved to remove their tops and bare their breasts as the conversation took place.
This got me to thinking:
- What happens when we spend time with other women?
- What is it like to really see each other?
- What changes when we take our tops off and spend time together, naked and vulnerable, but without being sexualized?
Whether alone, with an intimate partner, or in the company of other women, there are many proven benefits to spending time undressed:
- We become more comfortable with ourselves. So many women struggle with body image issues and hide behind their clothes, even from themselves. Being naked forces us to confront ourselves as we truly are, and to learn to love what we see.
- Naked time outside promotes physical health. While the weather is still warm, spend a few minutes in the woods or on the deck without clothes. Soak in the sun’s warm rays and the vitamins A and D.
- Being naked encourages intimacy. When we’re naked, we become vulnerable. Our true selves are uncovered. We allow our authentic selves to be revealed.
- Our happiness increases when we are naked. Although it may take a little while to get there, there is a correlation between the amount of time that women spend undressed and their levels of self-esteem.
- Nakedness makes us brave. Even in a supportive, non-restrictive environment like the one we created together at the debut, can you imagine the courage it takes for a woman to take her top off in front of over a thousand strangers?
When we combine those experiences with the strength generated by women coming together in community, something really powerful happens. Alex*, a writer living in Vermont, says that spending time with other women, “helps [her] understand how similar we all are — how life, time, and experience soften us, and how vulnerable we actually are under our everyday armor.”
Being naked with other women helps us see what we have in common, rather than focusing on what makes us different from one another. We feel less competition, more sisterhood.
So, how about it? Invite your friends over this weekend, and ask them to check their t-shirts at the door. It might feel a bit awkward for a few minutes but it’s going to become increasingly comfortable as time moves on. Soon, it’ll feel natural…as it should!