Through a Jungian Lens

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Feeling Comfortable in One’s Own Skin

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Cancun, Mexico 2006

I took this older photo from 2006 in order to continue the series about naturism.  But before I go further, I want to be upfront and say that in this series of photos, judicious cropping has led to the illusion of my being fully in my own skin.  It’s not true.  I cropped the swim wear in each photo to give an illusion.  Obviously in each photo I was not alone and someone else was taking the photographs with my camera.  And because of the fact of the presence of another person, I find myself, like the vast majority of North Americans, uncomfortable in my own skin concerned about my less than perfect body.  I wouldn’t think of going “au naturel.”  And so, I ask myself “Why?”

Well, I have convinced myself that it is “selfish” of me to not care about the sensibilities of others.  I have told myself that I would embarrass those closed to me in any given situation, embarrass strangers that would accidentally see me.  Being seen unclothed in a public place, even at a beach in Mexico, Cuba or elsewhere would be an intrusion into the space of others, an assault on their own concepts of self and others.  And as I continue to think about it, there appear many layers of “reasons” for my feeling uncomfortable in my own skin when others are present.  I want to include a few words here that I found on another site while researching the psychological aspects of naturism:

“Progressively, over the centuries, society has developed the use of clothing as a mask. Clothing was originally used and designed to protect people from the elements of heat and cold, to stop themselves from getting burned or frozen. It was also used as a method of adornment to enhance attractiveness and for ritual and ceremonial reasons. In the latter centuries, people developed a cultural dependency on clothing. Clothes became a mask and a prop for perceived personality and character deficiencies.

“We frequently see people who would not be seen dead without their clothing on. Clothing is often used to portray an image that is different from the person’s perceived inner deficiencies. It is a form of artificiality or masking that they outwardly project to cover up any personality or emotional defects they think they have. People tend to feel that by hiding behind clothing they can metaphorically cover themselves and deny others exposure to the inner-self they perceive to be crippled. The need to do this most commonly occurs in people with low self-esteem.” (Naked Beneath Your Clothing)

Again, the masking of the self, the portraying of an image that would be more socially acceptable, one that would leave me safely protected from the collective.  I know that I have a lot of scars and messy aspects and I desperately want to hide them so that others will like me.  I hide my true self.  But that hiding can only go on so long before one is forced to expose one’s true self.  I have no issue with seeing others in their own skin, something which isn’t so rare in other countries such as India, and in IndoChina.  Seeing others in their own skin in North America is also not an issue for me other than me berating myself for lacking the courage these others demonstrate in being comfortable in their own skin.

The journey of individuation forces one to become honest with one’s self, and in turn, that leads to a transparency that forces one to be honest with others.  I am not really there yet though I yearn to be there, need to be there in order to feel whole, to feel a sense of real holiness.  This blog space is one place where I feel a real sense of safety, especially in allowing my inner self to be more transparent.  The journey continues.

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