To be naked is to invite, in a society devoted to seeing people as products, an appraisal of one’s worth. Weighted, scrutinized, judged, and projected upon, nakedness practically begs for the destruction rather than the dissolution of the ego. Notice the difference. The latter involves a spreading out, an amorphous interrelationality with the surrounding context. The former results in pieces of burning detritus, where each can be looked at as once being a part of something else. Dissolution is expansive. Destruction is brokenness.

Why ever would someone then get naked in the public eye? Why ever would someone invite such potential for soul-shattering criticism? I am reminded here of how various minorities have taken on terms previously applied negatively, like the n-word, or have taken on other terms previously assigned only to a situation they were not thought to possess, like “gay,” and brought it into the fold of their own identity consciousness. This allows for the space to then find personal empowerment in what was once thought to be a lack.

So it is with nakedness, particularly when done by women. There is much often declared concerning a woman when she wears clothing considered to be “suggestive” or “inappropriate,” though clearly what is being referred to or deemed wrong lies completely in the eye of the person making the declaration. The attempt at shaming, of drawing attention purely to the absence of clothing or a particular act, is ultimately a behavior designed to (as noted above) limit or destroy rather than expand or promote understanding.

For a woman to be naked or even approximately so is to draw attention to this base myopathy and in an attempt to draw strength from a socially perceived lack, exult in the very thing that is being told to them should invite criticism and disgust. The exploitation claim thrown around misses the point, for exploitation is not truly, any more than the declarations of shame and judgment, about the woman but about those who cannot see anything but bared flesh. It is an indication of the public’s lack of introspection rather than an indictment of the actions of the performer or lay-person. Nakedness is the blunt declaration of sexual power, socially explosive only because there is so much fear and concern about a confident woman clad only in her skin.

Introspectively noting and healing this narrow and controlling vision, leads not only to a greater appreciation for what is standing before but an expansive understanding of one’s own sexuality and the empowerment that comes from owning one’s nature rather than seeking to limit it. To be naked is not simply a physical act but a psychological one, a laying out of one’s presence. Clad only in the armor of personal acceptance, being naked is a baring of self requiring a deep courage.

Rather than projecting insecurity and hiding through judgment, the opportunity can instead be seen as an invitation to bare one’s own self in return. Sharing within a space of openness and honesty is more than simply taking off clothes, but sometimes when confronted with such large walls of denial, a blunt instrument is precisely what is needed to help remind us that limitations are often self-created.


© David Teachout


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