Let's Get Naked

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Martin, over at Aardvarchaeology, had yet another good post today (he’s pretty much always got something interesting to say). This time around he was discussing Scandinavian Attitudes to Nudity (for those who don’t know, he’s Swedish).

It’s fascinating to compare attitudes towards nudity around the world. Now, I’m no expert, even on nudity in Canada but that’s never stopped me from speaking my mind. According to Martin, Scandinavians have, generally, a very open attitude towards nudity. Parents feel no shame (and why should they) for walking around naked in front of their children or allowing their children to do the same. For most North Americans, this is unthinkable. This includes my family. Granted my brother, his wife, and kids are a bit more open about being naked around each other than some, but the rest of my family (mainly my father’s Catholic side of the family) is a bit prudish.

The human body, in all its many shapes, sizes, colours, and degrees of hairiness, is a beautiful thing. Or at least it should be thought of that way. However, many of us look at the figures of those around us (or ourselves) and if they don’t fit what we are told is the current standard of beauty, we are revolted, disgusted, ashamed. So what if you have a bit of a tummy pouch, or your breasts aren’t perfectly perky (and really, unless they’re fake, who’s are?), or you don’t have rock hard abs, buns of steel, or legs that go all the way up? Our bodies are temples and should be worshipped. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting bowing down at my feet and sacrificing a goat (unless you’re into that kind of thing) but we should not be ashamed of our bodies or ridicule others for not looking exactly the way we wish them to.

I’d be curious to know how or why our early ancestors first decided that we had to cover ourselves up? Oh sure, there’s the argument of covering up for warmth but it has resulted in shame and embarrassment over nudity (our own or others) and is illegal to appear naked in public in most countries. Some exceptions such as nude beaches, nudist colonies, or strip bars do exist but they are strongly legislated by our governments. How is it that we have learned to be ashamed of our natural state?

Admittedly, I guess you could say I fall into the category of not comfortable with nudity although this is a bit misleading. Breastfeeding? Don’t care – whip ‘em out where ever you have to ladies. I don’t mind. Nudity in film? As long as I’m not watching a semi graphic sex scene with my parents, bring it on. However, I’m definitely one of those many individuals who is not all that comfortable with my own body but this has changed a great deal as I’ve gotten older. I don’t care as much that I’m a bit heavier, or that things aren’t exactly where the media tells us they should be. This is who I am and you can take it or leave it. I won’t change for anyone other than myself. But I digress…Growing up, nudity was just not something we did in our family. Sure, there are the standard baby in a bathtub shots that pretty much every parent has of their children but there was no running around the living room without clothes on. Perhaps if my parents had a more open attitude towards nudity, I might love all my unique bits and pieces a bit more.

For some reasons, North Americans have a very poor attitude towards nudity. We love pornography but god forbid you walk around naked in your own home in front of your partner or children. We don’t seem to be able to separate sex and sexuality from nudity, which is something the Scandinavians (according to Martin) have done and done well. The French also have a very positive attitude regarding body image (not sure about nudity per se) and it’s relationship with food but that’s another story altogether. I think we could all take a lesson from Martin and his fellow Swedes. There’s nothing wrong with being naked, no shame or embarrassment. Just don’t run through the streets dangling your willy at everyone you see. And remember, we’re all naked under our clothes…


* (asterisk) said...

In the hot summertime (too much information coming up), it's pretty normal to see me wandering around the house in nothing but underwear. And in those hot nights, of course, I'll happily wear less than that. But I have to share my space with only a wife and a cat, both of whom I hope love me the way I am.

That said, I have never been that happy with my body. For me, a huge help in overcoming that is in getting a lot of tattoos. When I'm at the beach now, for example, I feel that if people are staring it's because of the tattoos rather than the less-than-buff physique.

Or at least that's what I like to think, and that makes me feel better about myself!

Gardenia said...

We all have our self image probs I think - that's why I champion bodacious Anna Nicole and our sexy super model Tyra who has put on a few sassy pounds and is sassing back to ignorant critics. Where did this all come from anyway? Larry Flint? What a creep. Hugh - well, he's a creep too - an old fart sleeping around three blondies with the mentalities of 14 year olds. You make a good point - nudity is nothing to do with pornography - pornography is the airbrushed, not real stuff of fantasy, not real life, real people. And what's the deal with men being turned on by breasts that are built up with toxic materials? I don't get it - but the norm we are constantly held up to is sick - the stick Barbie Doll figure so starved it has no boobs, except for surgical placed ones. Come on now.

Please if you are reading this comment and have had augmentation I am not condemning you, this is not meant that way - heck I would have a chin & eye lift if I had the $$$!

Yay OPRAH! Her last magazine issue had lots of images of naked bodies at different stages - lovely bodies - real bodies.

Tanya said...

I have lived in several countries in my so far rather short, but colourful, life.

In South Africa, it seems that nudity is quite a naughty subject and that people are prudish. I did work as a massage therapist for a very short period of time and discovered that people have very different attitudes when it comes to stripping off. I had learned, through the massage training, to be more relaxed with my body. I was practically getting close to naked every day in order to be massaged, or I was massaging another person (usually female, lucky me) who was close to naked. It helped me to build respect for my body and those of others.

The Dutch are happy to sit in steam rooms completely naked and I tell you what, this is amazingly liberating. I loved going to the sauna and steam room in Holland. Felt great.

In the UK? I've seen people sitting in the steam room in a swim suit and then I get funny looks because I am naked under my towel and their being so conscious made me feel the same.

I love roaming about naked. Kate is just waiting for the day when the postman gets an eye-full of Tanya in all her glory.

Nudity is fabulous. I don't get the big deal. I think we'd all have better body images if we saw real bodies and were made comfortable with our own nudity.

Tanya said...

And did I mention I weigh 100kgs and fit into a size 22? Fuck society's ideal of beauty. I totally rock just as I am.

Karen said...

*A - Now that I've seen your face (and a good portion of the rest of you), I know have a very clear image of what you've just described. Don't worry...I won't tell Red. As for starting at the tattoos, you're right. I feel the same way in the summer time when I wear shorts or a skirt. Once, a group of seedy looking teens at the back of the bus all went "Oooo, whoa! Check that out" when I got on the bus. It made me giggle.

Gardenia: certainly the porn industry doesn't help with the the image problem we have in this country. However, we also have to lay the blame on the rest of the mainstream media who also tell us we have to be a size 6 with perfect breasts. Things need to change.

Tanya: isn't it funny how different parts of the world have such different views about nudity? I agree that we should all be much more accepting of each other including our nakedness. As for running around naked in my own apartment? Two words - cat claws. Ouch.

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