Most people are a little nervous the first time they get naked with someone else, but are you actually afraid to be naked? There’s actually a legitimate phobia for that. (A phobia is different from a regular fear in that an all-out phobia is usually irrational and interferes with your daily life and functioning.) If you’re afraid of being naked–not just uncomfortable being naked in front of someone else–you may have gymnophobia.
Experts say phobias, including gymnophobia, often develop after a bad experience–for example, you might get arachnophobia after being bitten by a spider. Similarly, if you have a bad experience with nudity, like getting made fun of in the locker room at school, it can make you afraid to be naked in general.
What’s more, people who are afraid to be naked usually suffer from other anxiety and/or body image issues–which makes a lot of sense, right? Specifically, people who suffer from anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may have issues stripping down because of the obsessive thoughts that come along with it.
One doc explained it thusly: “[It’s] more a general anxiety of their own body image as a comparative basis. We are an increasingly obese nation so the comparison could be stressful, anxiety producing, negative for one’s self-concept and could affect one’s own willingness to expose one’s self in privacy in a relationship.”
Translation? People with gymnophobia who are afraid to be naked are constantly worried about measuring up to everyone else, whether those people are real or media images of perfection.
If you think you’re legit afraid to be naked to the point of having gymnophobia? Don’t panic! There are ways to correct it. Experts recommend that you take small steps–starting with walking around and getting comfortable in just your skivvies, then moving forward from there.
Have you ever been afraid to be naked? If you’re afraid to be naked, do you think it’s all out gymnophobia or just being uncomfortable with your body image? Tell us in the comments!