On Nudity

By: Laya Reddy


I was looking at this Renoir of a naked boy petting this cat. And I don’t really bother with the boy. Like, I see his nudity, but I’m looking at the cat. Its round eyes peering past the boy, and they accuse. There’s something about this cat. Its fur rising in the naked cradle of the boy’s arms. There’s something about this boy. His hair feathering down his naked nape. Something that makes me think of my baby cousin in a diaper, fat rolls jiggling as he runs. It makes me stare, this innocent gall. These bodies. There’s something that compels me closer, and it’s not sexual.



It makes me think of bra straps peeking through the shoulders of shirts. Of panty lines I spot at parties on tight dresses. Of underwear brands rising over waistlines. Of seeing and fleeing. Of hiding bodies & body adjacents because noticing would be sexual.



I was driving down this backroad the other day, and I saw this lonely pink picket sign. FREE THE NIPPLE. And when I stopped at the light, my lip had curled and my head was shaking back and forth to the rhythm of my chuckles. Like some sort of societal shaming bobblehead: cringing on command when tv & media & other people say so. But I feel most at home unconstricted in oversized tees on the couch. But my favorite season is summer where 95% of the time I wear one-piece bathing suits. But I say I believe in feminism. Well, as long as it isn’t something people can call sexual.



I am standing bare in front of my bathroom mirror. Tracking black beauty spots as they trail down my face, my torso, to my upper thigh. The cellulite constellations framing the sides of my stomach. Sparse forests of hair I usually mow down covering the wide expanse of skin. And I just see all of it. And I don’t really bother with my nudity. Like I see my nakedness, but I’m looking at my body. How it curves & flattens & sags. And in this moment, I am at the most peace I have ever been. A spirit transcended. From the outside, I see my hand reach for the door handle. STOP. My soul is sucked back into bodily confines. I slip on my bathrobe before leaving because otherwise, it could be sexual