Monday, 19 July 2010

In Response to 'On Wearing Less'

This is a response to my friend from Philosophia. Read his post On Wearing Less here.

I think there is something in the idea that nudity is treated as something to be ashamed of. As if the human form is some embarrassment to bare. By covering up and hiding bare skin from innocent eyes, a culture of shame is formed convincing people that there is something wrong with their bodies; something wrong with the bodies of other people. It is as though people shouldn't be comfortable in their own skin, that they need to hide behind their protective wall.

The idea of a carpet of shame and embarrassment around the human form isn't universal. This means it can't be something inbuilt in human beings but rather something created by our culture. If you look at tribal type communities, inhabitants wear minimal clothing. Women have their breasts out and nobody bats an eyelid. 

Where has this come from? Why has society created taboo's around the subject. I'm not saying people should all walk around naked or anything, simply that nudity has certain connotations. It's seedy and dark, holding a negative banner over head, drawing in negativity. The only nudity we are offered is in a perverted form; think of boys mags for example. This perverted idea surrounding nudity forces people to think of it only as perverse rather than the simple state of nature that it is. We are animals. Like animals, we shouldn't be ashamed of ourselves and feel the need to hide. We shouldn't look upon the bodies of others and judge them. 

I can't imagine a dog walking round in a pair of trousers looking down on the dog going commando... 

By only being given an airbrushed picture of perfect naked bodies we are convinced that we ourselves are flawed. That our imperfections make us ugly and we should hide our bodies away unless we can match such beauty. We are regulated by taboo and made to feel bad about ourselves and look down on others. In America everything is even more regulated than it is over here, but it's all the same thing. It has reached the point where something as natural as breastfeeding is condemned as a private activity that should be hidden behind closed doors. 

I'm not calling for a revolution. This isn't me saying, let's all walk around starkers. This is me saying we don't need to be embarrassed of being human. We all have skin. We do all look different, but only to a degree. By trying to prevent prudence and hide from shame, a culture of shame was born. 

Gok has something good going with How To Look Good Naked showing people they can be comfortable in themselves. 
This may be not so much a response to William than inspired by his post. A branch from the same tree so to speak. Let me know what you guys think on the topic and also go check out William's blog =] 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I will be sure to check William's blog out too =]

    Loved this.

  3. hehehe i'm picturing a dog dressed up making fun of the naked dog... hehe

    I love how to look good naked! Gok is a genius.

    it's good to see you back pennie. (i know you've been 'back' for a while now, but i just mean you're being consistent and everything!)

  4. i think you are on to something with the whole culture of shame thing. but it's been fed to us from birth... how could we change now?

  5. This 'analysis' is trivial.

    This 'I have a weak opinion on something but haven't really bothered to investigate' type of thing is really lazy.

    You obviously have never read The New Scientist.


  6. I think the line about the dog wearing trousers didn’t work was a bit detached from the rest of your argument. You redeemed yourself later with two cogent ideas. The idea that our body image is distorted by air brushed models of impossible physical perfection is true and a rather sad reflection on society. Another interesting point was the idea that a woman nursing her baby in public might be considered inappropriate. Surely such a natural act reminds us who we are and where we've come from.

    Thanks for posting this...I’m learning that we can only be truly analytical when we write.
    Regards, Peter

  7. I'm sorry, whereabouts is the original idea and analysis in this post?

  8. you are a really pretty lady

  9. I think the issue of nudity is universal. Even, for example, the Red Indian chiefs wear head dresses to exemplify their statuses as an indication of their power. And they tend to live in family group which they don't have to feel ashamed of their bodies. Most women in tribal communities wear ornaments and decorations to attract the opposite sex as well.

    We may or may not be hard-wired for wearing clothes but, perhaps, our ancestors realised that words were not enough to express who we were, so they also used clothes or what we may call fashion to bring out the virtues latent within themselves.

    Of course, we shouldn't view our nude bodies as a potential shame. But I think we are better off wearing clothes since clothes make the world more interesting.