06 April 2011

On nakedness

BBC News: Gauguin painting...attacked by woman

There is some kind of extremely repressedness that lives in many americans, I'm sure largely due to the puritan nature of America's founding and expansion. Why are we so anti-nakedness? People are naturally naked. We started wearing clothes to keep warm, or to keep the sun off our skin, or to protect ourselves. Now we mostly wear clothing to hide our nakedness.

There are cultures of the world that don't care. The Himba in Africa, for example, developed a sunscreen-type ointment to protect their skin from the sun, rather than clothing which might overheat the wearer. In Europe, at least partial-nakedness in beach settings and on television (at times) is permitted without a blink of an eye. (There is a movement in the U.S. called Topfreedom whose goal is to further bridge the gender gap by allowing women the same amount of exposure wherever a man is allowed to go barechested. This is seen as part of the wider feminist movement.)

If we were culturally more exposed to this, well, exposure, people might be a little more accepting of it. I mean, we're all naked under there. Sometimes nakedness is beauty; sometimes it is grotesque. But it is something we all share. Nakedness is not in itself lewd, or crass; those are attitudes of those who use nakedness in those ways. Nakedness by itself is innocent. This is why we don't care if young children go naked. We have no reason to be ashamed of our nakedness.

Set a good example. Wear clothing for the right reasons: to protect, to warm, to shade; not to hide.

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