I once was asked when I discovered I was a nudist. I pondered and responded, hmm, I think I was born naked. Nudity is our natural state of being. Wearing clothing is a human device. So, why are many freaked out about their own and other people’s bodies especially in the natural state of nudity? The Bible hints Adam and Eve began naked and after disobeying God lost their innocence. Is this original sin, this age-old loss of innocence the beginning of body shame. Can one mistake have led to eons of confusion and embarrassment about human nudity? If so, why isn’t this loss of innocence felt universally?
Young children must be taught to be embarrassed by their nudity and that of others, it is clear that such feelings are not inherently part of us. When my beautiful son was a small boy about four-years-old, he amazed me. It was a hot summer day in Bakersfield after moving there from my teaching gig in Oregon. Both my son and daughter were running about the apartment naked in pure delight. My wife’s mother was there, and she was particularly uncomfortable with my son’s nudity. At one point she stopped him and said, “If you don’t put some pants on, I am going to cut that thing off.” My son stopped, and retorted, “Then I will cut off your vagina.” I was so pleased that he owned his body, in all its nakedness. His penis was his and he was willing to protect it. He was innocent and had no shame.
What does it mean to you to be naked? For some, nudity is firmly connected to sexuality, privacy, and shame. I read a comment from a former student that said that nudists are usually people you would never want to see naked, which eludes to the idea that other people’s bodies exist for our visual entertainment. What makes a naked body in any shape, size or age less or more acceptable than the same body covered? Remember we are all naked under that thin layer of fabric. I am not immune to the entrancing allure of a young, fit body whether clothed or naked. But even though I see beauty, what makes all other sizes and shapes of naked bodies repugnant? Be careful for few of us are perfect in every way and acceptance of difference is power.
Why be nude when there are clothes for every occasion? Some activities like sleeping, swimming, and bathing seem silly in clothing. I am sorry I laugh to myself when I think of donning special clothing to get wet, swimming suits just don’t make much sense. It is good for your body to be freed from restriction and allowed occasionally to breathe. Seeing yourself naked is your first introduction to your own personal external reality. Your naked body is uniquely yours. My naked body carries the scars of my history on this earth. I am under no illusion that my body is beautiful naked or clothed but it is the container in which I reside. I believe I should know it, respect it, and allow it freedom when I can.