Bellas naked story
“It’s important to normalise female nudity in non-sexual contexts.”
Hyper-sexualising black women comes with its traumas. Bella knows this all too well. Bella speaks to us about experiences that have shaped the way she sees her body and sexuality.
What’s your relationship with your body like?
Growing up, my body was something I was trying to work against. I was always critiquing my body and wishing it was different — it never quite felt like the body I wanted. When I closed my eyes and pictured myself, it didn’t look like what was standing in front of the mirror. Right now, I’m working on mending the relationship with my body.
Do you still feel this way when you’re naked?
Actually, this feels very separate from my relationship with my body. Being naked comes naturally to me. A portion of my childhood was in Denmark, where being naked was not a big deal at all. Moving to England, I distinctly remember being shamed for taking off my PE kit in the locker room without covering up. I was so confused, what is intrinsically wrong with my body parts? That was a culture shock I never got used to.
How about now? Are you still made to feel like you have to cover up?
Not in Denmark! I volunteer at a community sauna on Nørrebro where walking around naked is normal and encouraged. It’s refreshing to be naked in a safe space that isn’t my home, where I know people will respect my privacy and just let me exist in my own skin. It’s important to normalise female nudity in non-sexual contexts!
How does your relationship with your body impact your sexuality?
From a very young age, I was sexualised heavily by people around me because of my body and racial make-up. I was one of the only mixed-race black girls in my school and would often be fetishized for my looks by (much older) men. This was normalised and I was taught to be grateful for this attention because my mixed heritage made me “special” in some way — which reeks of Eurocentric anti-Blackness! I felt like I had to live up to a stereotype of a sexually liberated mixed-race woman, whilst still being a teenage girl.
I’m also a survivor of assault. This trauma fractured how I saw my sexuality and created a disconnect between who I was and how I felt the world saw me. My sense of autonomy was shattered — I was distant from this whole other sexual side of myself. It has only been in the last couple years I’ve been reteaching myself how to approach my sexuality. I’m taking control of myself and have been healing every single day since. And I love myself for it. .
We'd love to hear your story! Tell us in the comments <3
photos by @sarahbrik