Photo: Roger Thompson
For years Laure Redmond hated her body: too fat, too freckled, too lumpy, too stumpy. And that hatred was like a set of shackles holding her back from life. Now a self-esteem coach who specializes in mind/body issues, Redmond has made a career of helping women and teenage girls get over what she calls their body demons. Her goal for them is summed up in the title of her 2001 book: Feel Good Naked. It's not about naked for naked's sake, she says—it's about the amazing confidence that comes with being at ease in your own skin.
O: Let's be clear here: You're not advocating some kind of nudist revolution, correct?
Laure: (Laughs) No, streaking is not going to make a comeback as a result of my message. I just want women to feel good about their bodies so they can feel good about themselves—because when a woman feels good naked, it shows. She has an allure that comes through in the way she moves or talks or laughs. Her confidence isn't rooted in her clothing size or facial features but in her attitude—fun, delightful, free.
O: That sounds fabulous.
Laure: Yes, but it's not easy. For lots of women, even the word "naked" brings huge discomfort. I was volunteering at my child's school once when another mother, who had heard I was an author, asked me the title of my book. When I told her, she set down the envelopes she'd been stuffing, grabbed her purse, and left the building without saying another word.
O: Did that surprise you?
Laure: Unfortunately, no. I'm no longer shocked by negative reactions to the idea of nakedness. I call it naked fear. We button up. We shut ourselves down. We have an overwhelming paranoia about fat. We can't be free with our forms.
O: Getting over our horror of our bodies must make things better in the bedroom.
Laure: Oh, yes. What's sexy in the bedroom is when you love your stuff, when you want to share it with your partner. But that's really just a bonus—it's much broader than that. Being comfortable naked is the ultimate expression of self-confidence. If you're okay with being nude, you can take yourself anywhere in the world.
O: In other words, you have the sense of feeling good naked even when you're not literally unclothed. You're comfortable in the raw, in the sense of your pure, raw self.
Laure: Yes. It's about knowing and accepting yourself at your core. We don't get to choose Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as our parents, so we have to come to terms with the shape we take and the skin we're in. And when we do, it's very powerful.
O: But if you've spent years hating your body and despising yourself because of what you perceive as its inadequacies, is it really possible to suddenly decide, Hey, I love flabby old me?
Laure: Change is always possible. And if you've suffered from body hatred your whole life, the decision simply to change is the first step. The feel-good-naked attitude comes from a sense of the wholeness of life. It involves a holistic change in the way you relate to yourself and the world.
O: Where do you start?
Laure: Often, at the beginning. I don't mean that facetiously. I mean that it can be really helpful to reconnect to a time when you weren't always blaming yourself—when you believed in and loved yourself. And for many women, that time will turn out to be back in childhood.