I'm confident remaining naked after sex — why does that surprise my partners?

Courtesy of Shorefire

Here, Ariana DiLorenzo of Ariana and the Rose writes an essay inspired by her new song, “How Does That Make You Feel,” off of her latest EP, Retrograde. She explores what it means to be a woman who loves sex and her body in a society that considers this confidence to be strange and off-putting. Ariana says, “Because words and melodies are my medium, I wrote a song about my own experiences with sex. In my case, [the song talks] about being with a man — but it’s really about any partner. The song is about being in control, and being seen, and liking it.”

“You’re so comfortable with your body.”

Someone recently said this to me as I poured myself a glass of water, naked, just after having sex. I replied with, “Why shouldn’t I be?” He responded, simply, matter-of-factly, “Because most girls wouldn’t be comfortable doing that. They would put something on first.”

(For the record, this is not the first time I have had this conversation.)

There I was, standing up straight — a much more flattering position for me than any of the several I had just been in — and he was surprised that I didn’t feel self-conscious? I’m meant to be carefree and open during the act, but it’s accepted — even expected — that I’ll want to cover up afterwards? That idea pissed me off.

I have felt insecure about my body, and I have felt amazing about my body.

But, for whatever reason, I’ve never felt the need to hide my body from a man — especially after he’s been inside of me. At that point, the jig is up, don’t you think?

Let me be clear. I love sex. I always have, and I imagine I always will. I love the dance beforehand. I fully enjoy myself during sex, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have only had a few cringeworthy experiences where I felt the need to leave immediately after. I am not always vulnerable during sex. Sometimes, I guard my heart, only there for physical satisfaction. Other times, I feel ultra-feminine and playful. I’ve felt strong and in control, and I’ve given up all of my control.

I recently played a show where a group of women commented on how “comfortable” I was in my body.

There was that word again: comfortable. I thought, I’ve been up on stage, asking you to dance with me, to feel free in yourselves. Wouldn’t it be odd if I myself did not possess that same freedom?

How can I expect other women to feel safe enough to let go if I won’t go there first?

This idea — that it isn’t normal for a woman to feel confident in her skin, both in private and in public — began to concern me.

I mean, this sexist ideology is nothing new, and so many figures in pop culture have discussed the problem. Still, there is a disconnect between what is being discussed in mainstream media and what is happening in our personal lives. Right now, I don’t want to address what it means to be a public person making a statement with her body and sexuality — I want to talk about the private moments that happen to all of us, all of the time.

When you’ve just shared something with a person — you’ve exchanged sweat and spit and passion and some part of yourself that’s usually shielded from the world — why, after all of that, would you cover yourself up? Why is it considered startling and unusual to allow yourself to be seen? Are we ashamed because we enjoyed sex, and allowed someone to witness us feeling pleasure?

I’m trying to understand why we feel the need to hide our bodies in these moments, and that’s why I wrote the song, “How Does That Make You Feel.”

I’ve made love, I’ve been fucked, I’ve regretted it, and I’ve been empowered by it. Some days, I feel like a goddess. Other days, I feel like shit. But I have promised myself that I will never hide my sexuality, not from anyone. I enjoy myself in a public forum because I’m an artist; my goal is to encourage other people to join in. I will do it first — be free inside my body, in my movement onstage, in my videos — hoping that whoever is watching feels freer in themselves. 

And I will share what happens in my private moments. When it’s just me and someone else — no music video playback, no audience taking it in. It is in those moments when we need to change the expectations we’ve been conditioned to uphold.

I will go to bed with you, enjoy myself, get up, pour myself a glass of water, and I won’t put my bra back on. My boobs will hang the way they do, my stretch marks will be where they are, and I’m going to enjoy my cold drink, thank you very much.

And if my confidence is confusing to you, then that’s for you to sort out.

Our sexuality can be vulnerable and strong and have no time for bullshit. Let’s make that the norm. We can be unashamed. We can stand tall in front of 100,000 faces in a crowd. We can be open and vulnerable in front of one person, sitting close.

And you can (and should) look that person right in the eye, and ask, how does that make you feel?

You can see Ariana and the Rose perform live in New York City on September 12th at Berlin.

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