There’s something therapeutic about nudity … Take away the Gucci or Levi’s and we’re all the sameKevin Bacon, Style Magazine, 1999
“Look at what she’s wearing. She asked for it.”
“Yo, look you can see her ass peeking out of that skirt!”
“If you don’t comply, I’ll leak your nudes.”
These phrases may make your blood curl in rage, but at the same time, this inevitable sense of helplessness makes itself comfortable in the back of your head. It almost makes you feel guilty, placing you in a position of thinking you should make amends. It can make you feel worthless and hideous as if you don’t belong. Well, news flash! You don’t have to feel any of these blue emotions. You don’t have to blame or justify yourself for the natural body that was gifted to you. Nudity is not a human being bereft of clothes, rather it’s the divinity of the most beautiful kind of costume – yourself.
The Birth of Nudity
Since the beginning of time, humans have wandered the earth bare. Adam and Eve were unaware of their stark-nakedness until they consumed the forbidden fruit. Additionally, a plethora of naked sculptures of Hindu, Roman and Greek gods and goddesses could be navigated across the world. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was often sculpted nude with many other Greek deities. In ancient Greek times, nakedness was considered a heroic uniform that only the men would adorn. This sculpture of Aphrodite came as a surprise along with revolts but it also brought about a massive revolution in the modus operandi in which the women were perceived.
Even Saraswati, the Indian goddess of knowledge, was sculpted naked by some artists. One of the masterpieces was taken by Lord Curzon to England with him and today, along with many other bare-skinned sculptures of Indian deities, can be found in multiple British museums. In fact, before the Islamic invasion of India, women did not cover their torsos. Apart from the historical and Holy shreds of evidence of considering nudity divine, Jain – a non-theistic religion in India – saints practice living in their original form even today because they consider it as renouncing the world and retreating to being how the Lord originally intended for humans to be. There are many tribes as well where nudity is an accepted and encouraged part of the culture.
This dissent in finding comfort within one’s own skin was never the intended outcome. Initiating with respecting the creator of mankind, and the following long string of events, led to the ramifications that women face in the modern world. Women are gifted with the phenomenal power of procreation, and just like we do with every precious thing, people want to protect and take care of that. Eventually, that protectiveness blended with possessiveness, growing into a manly act of conquering and attaining women for their bodies.
Imbalance of Bodily Worth
An imbalance is caused when female bodies are perceived with greater worth than male bodies. Ironically, this imparity encumbers females with the responsibility of keeping themselves safe at all times because they are treated like a treasure chest. This is nothing but the boomerang effect in action. In social psychology, the boomerang effect can be defined as “a strong counter-reaction when there is a deliberate attempt to change an attitude (resulting in strengthening or adoption of the attitude that the marketer was attempting to change).”
The very purpose of obscuring nudity is to discourage sexual offences, but it rather ignites the opposite reaction by giving that body so much power. Women become mere trophies for men to possess.
This objectification has also had an overall impact on feminine equality being compromised at every point. Women are misconstrued as unworthy and unequal opponents to men when it comes to employment, education and human rights. Even today, issues like dowry, female foeticide and unequal pay are incessantly persisting in many corners of the world. With one ripple, a chain of events led us all where we are standing today.
The Media’s Manipulative Role
The over-protectiveness that treats women with fragility has created a stigma of “flawless” female bodies where stretch marks, scars, acne and small chestedness are frowned upon. The ceaseless portrayal and glorification of women with a petite waist, big boobs and flawless smooth skin and them being labelled as “beautiful” has left so many stunning souls feeling ugly. This beastly beauty trend is disguised in the form of our loved celebrities as they promote products like fairness creams. The media has allowed nakedness to make us feel ashamed when that is exactly how we were born.
Furthermore, the dearth of plus-size women apparels is the most alarming sign of what perspective the world is heading at. The accumulation of love handles is not any of our concern to “body shame” our “slut-shame” anyone. Just like the body size, if one wishes to show their skin with blemishes and birthmarks, curves and scars, stretch marks and acne, then they should not be afraid of judgement for exhibiting their true self. People’s differences are what make them gorgeous! Let’s support them, and ourselves, by not getting in the way of this beautiful process.
Free the Nipple
In the contemporary world that we currently reside in, the awareness of normalisation of nudity is gradually burgeoning. Many people even choose to live as nudists or naturists, as they like to call themselves. They refuse to dress as it goes against nature. They claim that being naked doesn’t fluctuate their sexual hormones, rather it is about the context. For non-nudists, nakedness is closely linked to sensual activities as intercourse is generally the only period when a person reveals their entire body in a company. However, for naturists, it is a form of lifestyle and not a signal for arousal. It is not that they do not engage in sexual activities, rather they just don’t associate nakedness with sensuality. They believe that it is the most natural way of living.
After all, we are all the same underneath the heaps of clothes we use as a facade. Our true uniform is the one in which we descended upon the earth and there should be no reason for anyone to not feel comfortable in their skin. Even though movements like free the nipple and nudism delineate how far we have come, there is still a long journey that awaits us ahead. We don’t have to be nudists to support nudity though, and we can still play a very important role in normalising feminine nudity.
Nudity without Judgement
Let’s not allow the sexual offenders to say, “Look at what she’s wearing. She asked for it.”
It’s the idea of feminine nudity being shameful – and at the same time, being powerful – that gives so much fuel to the patriarchy. Every other day, women are being blackmailed because the oppressor is hiding behind their nudes that he either gained unethically, by mistake or were shared in trust. Victims like Jennifer Lawrence and Erin Andrews would have been bereft of the suffering that they had to go through if not for this stigma. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what is culturally accepted.