Culture, Family, Health, Mental and Emotional Health, Nudes, Saturday's Nude, Society, Values

Why Bother to Promote A Healthy Attitude Towards Nudity?

For about a year now, posting a nude each Saturday has been my most cherished way of whining about how the nude body is often thought of as always sexual, often vulgar, and never quite wholesome.  I’ve cheerfully fantasized I’m making a statement about those attitudes by posting works of art that are seldom sexual, often beautiful, and always harmless.  But why should I — or anyone else, for that matter — care what folks think of nudity?

Well, to any great extent, we shouldn’t care.  Nudity isn’t that important of an issue when compared to a number of other issues.  Given the seriousness of challenges like nuclear proliferation, global warming, war, and the worldwide economic crisis, we might generously rank nudity as high as the advisability of certain food additives.  I wouldn’t want to see the issue disappear, but I’d be appalled if folks ranked it front and center of the world’s problems.  So, it’s appropriate only little blogs like my own devote much space to it.

On the other hand, there are at least two, broad reasons for somewhat caring how nudity is viewed (shameless pun intended).  First, the notion that nudity is scandalous, immoral, and even dangerous contributes to all sorts of socio-political absurdities.  Janet Jackson once exposed her nipple for less than two seconds on national television and caused a controversy lasting several days that at its peak swept aside major news stories.  A school teacher was reprimanded then fired for taking her children to a museum that displayed nude sculptures.  A grandmother was prosecuted for photographing her two partly-clothed granddaughters bouncing on her bed.  Here in Colorado Springs, a woman threatened to sue a drug store for “trauma” after she accidentally received images of a nude man from the store’s photo lab.  And a man in another state was once convicted of sex offender charges for walking about nude in his own home without closing his drapes.  All of these examples and others point to some of the consequences of our accepted, but ridiculous attitude towards nudity.

Perhaps another reason we should be a little concerned about how nudity is thought of are the many studies that suggest a more healthy attitude towards nudity has profound benefits — especially for women.   Here are the results of just three such studies:

(1) Research conducted at the University of Northern Iowa found that nudist children had body self-concepts that were significantly more positive than those of non-nudist children–and that the “nudity classification” of a family was one of the most significant factors associated with positive body self-concept.

(2) A study by psychologists Robin Lewis and Louis Janda at Old Damien University reported that “increased exposure to nudity in the family fosters an atmosphere of acceptance of sexuality and one’s body.” They concluded that children who had seen their parents nude were more comfortable with physical contact and affection, had higher self-esteem, and showed increased acceptance of and comfort with their bodies and their sexuality.

(3) Clothes-compulsiveness creates insecurity about one’s body. Studies show that nudism, on the other hand, promotes a positive body self-concept.

These effects are especially significant for women. Studies by Daniel DeGoede in 1984 confirmed research done 16 years earlier, which established that “of all the groups measured (nudist males, non-nudist males, nudist females, and non-nudist females), the nudist females scored highest on body concept, and the non-nudist females scored lowest.”

Apparently, there are no studies that indicate nudity is harmful to anyone.

So, there you have a couple reasons why it should concern us — if only a little bit — to promote a healthier attitude towards nudity.  Of course, I’m not of the opinion that nudity should be forced on anyone, or that everyone should go nude.  Some people — for whatever reasons — have no use for it and should not feel obligated to indulge in it.  Yet, despite that, it seems worthwhile to combat the notion nudity is unhealthy, immoral, or dangerous.   After all, is there any sane reason a significant portion of society should live in fear of seeing Janet Jackson’s nipple?

34 thoughts on “Why Bother to Promote A Healthy Attitude Towards Nudity?”

  1. I concur entirely. The nude-phobia is symptomatic of the hypocrisy built deep into modern culture. I try always to blog in the nude as a kind of protest. In fact right now, well no, you don’t need to know that, but perhaps we should start a nude blogging campaign. Put together a little badge we can all put in our sidebars. “I blog nude.” something like that. Cool post.


  2. I had never given nudity much of a thought before finding your blog and seeing your weekly nude artwork posts.

    My almost 5-year-old daughter is used to seeing me without clothes when I’m getting dressed etc., and we’ve never given it a second thought. I’m feeling pretty good about that right about now. Very much makes up for the number of times she’s pointed out my dumpy suburban housefrau physique.

    Thanks for sticking with your education campaign-you’re reaching an appreciative audience.


  3. Hi Heather! Thank you for you kind words and encouragement!

    One of the few reservations I have about the nudes I post is that so many of them have more or less the same physique. I have been looking for quality nudes with different physiques for a couple weeks now. The problem is I usually go with the first really awesome nude I find — and that’s almost always the most popular physique for photographers. I have much the same problem finding male nudes. Yet, surely if I could bring myself to pass by some excellent work, I would find what I want.


  4. So I was wondering, how old do little girls have to be for a male relative (father, brother, grandfather, etc.) to be a “sex offender” if he sees them nude? Obviously, this is a rhetorical question, since state laws (and jurors’ sensibilities) vary. Is 5 okay? Is 6 too old? I’m sure some poor soul is sitting in the calaboso somewhere for giving his child a bath.

    I hear some folks consider any photograph (forget statues and paintings) of a nude human being of any age to be pornographic. Whatever the word “pornographic” means. I have my own notions of whether nude photography is Art, but that’s more because of my rather “glass half empty” view of art than otherwise.


  5. @ Paul: LOL

    @ Twoblueday: Good comments! It’s scary what can get you prosecuted these days. And if you are prosecuted and convicted as a sex offender, then it’s pretty much guaranteed to ruin your day.


  6. Paul: “I once tried to establish an international nude blogging movement, but it seems to have fizzled.”

    Could be climate-related. I’d have to crank up the heat here to an unaffordable level in order to be comfortable nude here, right now.

    – M. \”/


  7. I think your efforts should be applauded. Nudity is not anything to be ashamed of, but it has become not just shameful in Western society, but criminal. I just can’t understand wanting people to be ashamed of their bodies.

    On a bit of a shameless plug, one of my blogging friends, who is also a professional photographer, has started photographing boudoir sessions. These pictures are fantastic! They’re not exactly nudes, but they do show how skin can be artistic and suggestive without being pornographic. Ugh. I really hate how skin equates automatically to sex in most uptight minds.


  8. @ Meowlin: You’re probably right. The nude blogging movement fizzled at about the same time the reality of winter set in.

    @ Ordinary Girl: Thanks for the link! Your friend has a fascinating style!


  9. ” You’re probably right. The nude blogging movement fizzled at about the same time the reality of winter set in.”
    You just need to get some people from the southern hemisphere involved; make it a seasonal thing. The weather down here in Australia is perfect for nude blogging at the moment, except for sunburn.


  10. This would probably sound funny to you: you know one reason why I never learnt to swim was that I couldn’t bear to bring myself be seen in a swim suit at the swimming pool.
    Someone from a generation older than mine once told me that in her time even her husband had never seen her nude ( yes they did have sex – they had eight children!)
    While I have found the nudes in your posts to be very aesthetic, I still have a long way to go before seeing myself or anyone else in the nude without being shocked. In fact one of the most shocking dreams I have often is finding myself in public in the nude and then I wake up shaking and soaked in sweat.


  11. I can agree about the need to promote a healthier attitude towards the human body, but we must draw a line somewhere. Going around naked in front of little children is deeply disturbing, especially knowing how many kids are sexually molested every day. Forcing your children to look at old people’s genitalia at an early age can traumatize them for life.


  12. @ Meleah: It happened in Texas about a year or two ago. She was an art teacher — as if that could make a difference to the folks who fired her.

    By the way, I love those photos of where you’re staying in Mexico that you’ve posted on your blog!

    @ Alex: I was chatting online with a friend from Down Under tonight and when he told me about the weather you folks are having, I began lusting for it! It’s cold here now!

    @ Usha: Thank you for sharing your experiences! I don’t think you’re alone, Usha. I’m willing to bet there are many people — especially women — who have avoided such things as learning to swim because they didn’t want to be seen in revealing suits. It seems many of us around the world have been taught to be anxious of our bodies. The more I’ve reflected on that teaching, the less sense it’s made to me.

    @ Gorg: Welcome to the blog!

    I suspect you are being facetious since it’s very difficult to imagine anyone seriously suggesting that exposure to adult nudity traumatizes children.

    Of course, there’s a small possibility that you are being serious. If that is indeed the case, I would suggest you go back and carefully re-read my blog post. I cite three studies in that post which thoroughly contradict your notion that children exposed to adult nudity risk being traumatized.


  13. Would you want to see your grandma naked? Didn’t think so. Some things are better left unseen. Also, that disgusting site with pictures of morbidly obese women just dehumanizes them and makes them into circus freaks. Any sincere person must admit to being grossed out by it. How is that going to help anybody feel better about anything? Just asking.


  14. @ Gorg: Seeing my grandmother naked, even as a child, certainly would not traumatize me. And I honestly cannot image anyone with a psyche so fragile that it would traumatize them. I suspect you either are not thinking through what you’re saying, or you’re pulling my leg.

    At any rate, the studies I cited strongly suggest that seeing adults nude is actually beneficial to children. I think I’m going to go with the science on this one rather than go with your personal opinions.

    Besides, Gorg, there must be millions of children worldwide who live in societies, such as Japan, where seeing nude adults is commonplace, and unless you can prove to me the children in those societies are traumatized by the sight of nude adults, I must suspect you of merely joking when you claim children are traumatized by the sight of nude adults.


  15. We carried out a comparison of countries to determine if attitudes to nudity had any effect on things like teenage pregnancy rates and I am hopeful that it will be formally published before long. We expected to find a correlation but we were astounded by how strong it was. Every single time the more prudish country had worse outcomes, often very much worse.

    Compared to the most liberal countries teenagers in the USA become sexually active younger, are less likely to use contraception or a condom and are more likely to be promiscuous. The results are predictable, nearly ten times more likely to become pregnant, nearly ten times more likely to have an abortion and tens of times more likely to catch an STI such as gonorrhea.

    The only country in Europe that I have come across with figures similar to the USA is Scotland and guess what. Scotland is probably the most prudish country in Europe.


  16. I live in Scotland and I would probably agree and disagree. I mean most people I know are very open about things like sex, alcohol etc. However nobody is really into the nudist thing. I’m not really sure about the attitudes of older people though.


  17. @ gorg: “Forcing your children to look at old people’s genitalia at an early age can traumatize them for life.”

    Or give them a more realistic paradigm than airbrushed and photoshopped fashion magazines/TV shows/movies.

    “especially knowing how many kids are sexually molested every day.”

    I have to wonder why nobody ever considers how many kids AREN’T sexually molested every day.

    “Would you want to see your grandma naked?”

    Which begs the question, *why don’t you want to see _your_ grandma naked?* I could understand if nudity was always linked to sex.

    Well, no, that doesn’t really work either. Some old people have sex. Grossed out at the idea? Get over it. Trust me, you’ll get over the idea in 40 or 50 years.

    @ Mat: “I live in Scotland … nobody is really into the nudist thing.”

    Just what *do* y’all wear under those kilts (I almost made an amusing typo there…) anyway? Rhetorical question, of course.

    – M. \”/


  18. I guess children probably are the humans who care the least about nudity, be it younger or older nudes. Around here (Europe) it’s perfectly normal for kids to run around naked in summer and I’ve never seen them react strongly to adult nudity, neither if they accompany their parents to shower after sports, nor at the nudist beach. Kids just don’t care if they’re or somebody else is nude. Actually, if they care, I’d suspect something’s wrong with them.

    It’s just the average white male who simultaneously run most of this planet and didn’t get laid enough who are terrified of nudes other than those they use for their own preferred kind of pornography and project their own terror upon others.

    Here in Germany, most saunas in spas and such are co-ed, in the parks here around Berlin and also in Munich, there are plenty of nudists sunbathing every summer (maybe Scotland is just too cold?) and I know things are similarly relaxed in most of Scandinavia. It seems to me, the attitudes towards nudity vary widely within “the western world”.


  19. I interpret comments like “Would you want to see your grandma naked? Didn’t think so. Some things are better left unseen. Also, that disgusting site with pictures of morbidly obese women just dehumanizes them and makes them into circus freaks.” as implicitly suggesting that the only bodies that are worth viewing are young, slim, lithe strong ones.
    It suggests to me that the speaker has a fundamentally voyeuristic view of the human body, that to see it is an action that they should only undertake if it gives them pleasure. It is an attitude that appears to deny the human being inside that body, and to view the another person’s body only as an object to satisfy their wants.
    I work in healthcare. I see human bodies every day of all ages, shapes and sizes, in health and sickness and death. A person lives their life within a body, and every wrinkle, scar and curve tells part of that tale, before the body lies as an empty shell in death. Look not for the body as an object, but for the person within.


  20. @ Bjoern: Welcome to the blog! And thank you for some very interesting comments! I completely agree with you that nudity doesn’t bother the vast majority of children. If it bothers any of them, then it’s most likely they were taught to be bothered by it.

    @ Leguru: LOL

    @ SunSufer: Wonderfully insightful and thought provoking comments! Welcome to the blog!


  21. @ Usha: You certainly aren’t alone. I’m a middle-aged man, and I don’t hold any religious views on nudity – yet I too have never learned to swim because I cannot bring myself to appear in public in such scant attire. Fear of ridicule and rejection is what it’s about, I suppose. And like you I’ve always avoided other people’s nude or scantily-clad bodies because they shock me.

    These are my emotions speaking, of course. My rational mind tells me that this doesn’t make sense.


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