It is no accident that in the biblical creation story man was naked. After all, Adam and Eve represented nature.It is also no accident that when they sinned they took up clothing to hide their shame – in some ways, wearing clothing was their punishment for sin.
But Adam and Eve had it wrong. Before they felt that nudity was shameful, they thought nothing of it. It was natural. And God certainly had no problem with it. They were not obligated to clothe themselves.
Clothing is very functional, especially in cold weather. My wool coat and boots may not be very useful in Texas, but they sure come in handy in Kansas City.
In the heat of a Texas summer, is clothing really necessary?
Clothing performs a lot of necessary functions. It shelters people from the elements. It can protect the body from harm. It can be a form of self-expression or disguise. It can keep prying eyes at bay.
But clothing is also very restricting. At times, it restricts freedom of movement, or is even painful – any girl who has worn an underwire bra for 18 straight hours knows this. It can even be dangerous – try running in high heels. It can give people the wrong impressions, and the wrong clothes can distort a body.
Additionally, clothing is expensive. Everyone has to own the latest and greatest fashions and have clothing for every occasion. It has long since ceased to be merely functional and is even worn in instances where it is clearly not necessary, like at the beach.
Worse, clothing has become a form of societal pressure. Every woman wants to fit into that teeny swimsuit. Or lose a dress size. Some women will even go pretty far to fit the clothing norm. A new procedure, toe shortening, is available for women who want their feet to fit more easily into pointy shoes. They would literally disfigure themselves and put their bodies at risk for fashion.
But The Naturist Society doesn’t think this is necessary.
As TNS’ Web site reads: “We take the issue of body acceptance seriously. We view the nude human form for what it is: a gift of nature, dignified and worthy of respect, regardless of shape, size, age or hue.”
TNS is an organization that provides information and resources for “naturists,” another term for “nudists.” The term “naturist” emphasizes nudity as a natural state of being and seeks to avoid sexual connotations associated with the term “nudist.”
I recently spoke to a naturist who participates in nude events like swimming, camping and nude bowling. He said that rather than cover a body and smooth out imperfections, clothing actually distorts the body and makes it appear uglier than it really is.
The human body is natural and beautiful, he said. And when people become used to seeing each other naked, they lose their self-consciousness.
Being a nudist is not about sex or sensuality; it is our culture that teaches us this concept is the purpose of nudity. Nude pictures in our society almost always emphasize sensuality, rather than show people in natural or comfortable situations.
When people become used to nudity, and when it becomes natural rather than nude, nudity is no longer a state of continual arousal. Instead, it is a comfortable state of being.
I am not arguing that our society needs to become nudist, but that society and individuals need to become more comfortable with the concept of nonsensual nudity. Instead of portraying naked people as sexual commodities, accept them as beautiful and comfortable expressions of humanity.
My challenge for you is to try being nude more often, if just once or twice a month. After a shower, don’t immediately cover yourself. Leave off your towel and lounge on your bed (if you share a room, you should probably ask your roommate’s permission or wait until he or she is not around). Next time you go to Florida or Europe, seek out a clothing-optional beach. See how much more comfortable it is to swim without clothing. For women, in some areas, it is legal to be topless in any place men are allowed to be. Take advantage of this rule. But don’t pose for Girls Gone Wild. This isn’t the type of nudity I’m talking about.
I’m not suggesting a complete lifestyle change, unless you want to make one. Just learn to be comfortable in your own skin and with the skin of others. After all, my friend tells me, you’ll save a lot of money on clothing and you won’t have to do nearly as much laundry.
Opinion editor Stephanie Weaver is a senior English, philosophy and French major from Westwood, Kan. She is not a nudist herself, but she supports nudist ideals.