Michele says naked truth but interesting.
Does any word cut so close to the core of our deepest insecurities? When we’re naked, it’s not just our bodies that are on exhibit—it’s our hearts, our souls, our very self-worth that feels exposed and ripe for criticism. And if you’re like most women, you know that no one can be as hard on you as well, you.
As the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health, I hear from women every single day who share their greatest fears and their deepest anxieties about their bodies. And invariably, those stem from one thing: how they look naked.
That’s why this book is for you: If you’ve ever looked in a mirror at your naked self and felt anything other than spectacular, then you’ve come to the right place. Look Better Naked is for women who want to look hotter, live healthier, and—perhaps most important of all—feel more confident, in clothes or out of them.
What I tell the millions of readers of Women’s Health looking to achieve that goal is simple: I know exactly how you feel. Because many times, I’ve felt the very same way. And I’ve never been more intensely insecure about my body—and how it’s changed over the years—than in the weeks and months leading up to my recent 20th high school reunion.
At the end of my senior year at High School, receiving a “senior superlative” award during our graduation dinner was almost as important as getting a diploma—at least in my teenage mind. I knew I shouldn’t take the awards too seriously, that they were goofy titles, but I couldn’t help myself. I secretly rested my hopes on being singled out for something. “Most likely to Succeed” was out of reach, but maybe “Best All Around” was in the cards—after all, I’d played varsity soccer, was on student council, and socialized with geeks, jocks, and partiers alike.
As I pushed roasted chicken around my plate to calm my nerves, our class president announced the first few awards. Thunderous applause met each winner’s name, and the cheers grew louder and louder with each recognition.
As I’d hoped, my closest friends were raking in the accolades. “Best Looking” went to Betsy, Nicole easily nabbed “Sexiest”, and my Broadway- bound pal Jeanine snagged “Most Talented”. Then our class president made an announcement that I’m certain made my parents very proud: “And ‘Best Buns’ goes to Michele Promaulayko!”
Evidently the Class of 1988 found my snug Guess jeans more memorable than my performance in the classroom or on the soccer field. I eventually forgave them (most of them, anyway), but by the time my 20-year reunion rolled around two decades later, I felt like my trophy behind had lost its star appeal. Sure, I’d put time and effort into trying to stave off gravity and stay in shape through the years, but I certainly wasn’t twisting my neck to take notes on how my backside had “developed” as I’d gotten older, busier, and a little more complacent about the nutritional value of every morsel that passed my lips.
Truth be told, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d caught a glimpse of my own bare bottom. I always wrapped in a towel before stepping out of the shower, I purposely dressed away from my full-length mirror, and I shopped online to avoid dressing rooms. As silly as hiding from my own naked reflection sounds, that sort of behavior wasn’t unique or some temporary lapse of reason—it’s commonplace among women today. One recent medical survey revealed that a mere 19 percent of women are happy with their bodies. In other words, of your five closest friends, only one of them thinks her physique deserves a thumbs-up.
I’d love to say this figure surprises me, but it doesn’t. A nude body shows who we truly are physically— and too often we’re not proud of our status. When we’re naked and unadorned, we’re totally vulnerable, exposing the workouts we’ve skipped and the high-cal desserts we’ve polished off. When we do find ourselves totally naked—maybe a couple of times a day, for a total of about 20 minutes— the unveiling usually happens because we’re either showering or having sex, or somewhere between the two. Soon afterward many of us rush to swathe ourselves in a bed sheet or robe before finally hiding beneath our clothes—the armor we use to protect ourselves from the world. And, probably like you, I have spent years and a good chunk of money curating a wardrobe of brands that flatter my body (thank you, Diane von Furstenberg!) and silhouettes that act like the fashion equivalent of smoke and mirrors—highlighting assets and deflecting eyes away from the flagging trophies.
But I’ve found a way to escape that cycle of embarrassment—and to stop shying away from the mirror. A few months after my reunion (confession: I wore Spanx), I made the biggest career move of my life. I left a long-term stint at Cosmopolitan to become editor-in-chief of Women’s Health—a magazine that serves up comprehensive (and sane!) advice on staying fit, healthy, and happy. And as I was getting to know the editorial staff as well as my colleagues at Men’s Health, our brother magazine, what impressed me the most was their vast knowledge about the human body. To help readers achieve their fitness, weight-loss, and nutrition goals, they scour the latest studies in prestigious journals, interview dozens of the country’s top experts, and, most important, practice what they preach—in the gym, in the kitchen, even in the office (where staffers regularly used the in-house yoga studio). They’re health aficionados through and through, and their dedication to their craft show—in their flat stomachs and toned arms. I immediately knew that I’d come to the right place for getting my body back in peak condition.
But I also knew that I wasn’t the only woman in America who was self-conscious about her naked body. So I surveyed more than 3,500 Women’s Health readers for their thoughts. Seventy-two percent of them immediately said they looked better clothed than naked. And when I asked which body parts made them most self-conscious, 62 percent said their bellies, 22 percent said their butts, and 16 percent said their breasts. But then came the most important part: Some 77 percent said they were highly motivated for Women’s Health to help them look better naked. So I got to work on this book.
Look Better Naked is an invitation to stop hiding from yourself, to rediscover—and reshape—the body beneath your clothes, and to boost your in-the-buff confidence. The next time you’re about to step into the shower, take a look at your reflection in the mirror and stash the image in your memory bank. That’s the last you’re going to see of the old you. Then put aside the weight-loss and shape-up disappointments you’ve faced in the past and get ready to look better naked!