The naked truth.

No one has the time on Monday that they do on Sunday for those long Sunday-magazine reads, but I think the WashPost magazine’s take on nudity yesterday might be worth a bit of your coffee-break time, if nothing else:

Our forefathers got off to a bad start with nudity. Unlike in so many European cultures, where nudity has always been idealized, serving as the inspiration for countless portraits of deities and military heroes, here it was just another wild foreboding frontier, on the other side of which might lurk damnation and disgrace.

Puritan modesty in the American Northeast, and evangelical fervor in other parts of the Colonial land about the need to sublimate the libido, doubtless played a role in the disfavor of exposed flesh. But so, too, did 18th-century American artists who, according to some art historians, looked for ways to distinguish the portraits of prominent Colonial settlers from the depictions of Native Americans. While one group of Colonial artists depicted Indians as barely clothed, in what they regarded as a celebration of the natives’ physicality and freedom of body, another group sought to ensure a flattering contrast by rendering distinguished Colonials as elegantly attired models of modesty. It was nothing less than an effort to characterize nudity as the way of a savage, and the clothed as pious and enlightened.

On the other hand, if heartbreak is more your cup of tea this a.m., there’s this NYT piece on smuggling children across international borders (Latin America, mainly), to join their parents, most of whom are illegal immigrants themselves. The pictures alone will take all the wind out of your sails.

Posted at 3:21 am in Uncategorized |

12 responses to “The naked truth.”

  1. John Ritter said on November 3, 2003 at 8:37 am

    The illusion of nudity is the honey that draws the flies. But, the reality of nudity (especially on a sunny day) is quite disarming and not particularly “sexy”. Just imagine the people you see at the local grocery store, traipsing about in the all together and you will understand why.

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  2. danno said on November 3, 2003 at 9:02 am

    Seeing normal everyday people naked wouldn’t be an issue if our culture didn’t see only supermodel perfection as acceptable. Go spend some time on a nude beach and you will find that after 10 minutes or so it doesn’t make much of a difference whether people are nude or not. You get used to it and in all actuality, you find that even your own body isn’t as bad as you think it is! A lot of people seem to think that viewing naked bodies will bring out sexual deviancy in people, but viewing them doing nothing but walking and lounging and not provocatively posed makes them seem somewhat boring!

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  3. michael golden said on November 3, 2003 at 11:58 am

    I’ve often wondered what it is about the sight of a woman’s breast that so terrifies the religious fundies.

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  4. alex said on November 3, 2003 at 12:47 pm

    The concerns of sexually repressed fundies are just what you’d expect. They probably wouldn’t trust themselves not to get all excited looking at other people, or even children, so why should they trust anyone else?

    However, I do know a Freudian analyst�very liberal, and an atheist to boot�who says nudism is damaging to children. A boy should never see that Daddy’s is bigger. Why this is harmful I’m not sure, exactly, but I think that if the state takes an interest in regulating behavior it had better come up with some solid science to back up what it’s doing and not simply conclude that there’s a risk of predation.

    I’ve known nudists. I’ll admit I’ve even spent some time frolicking among them. They’re quick to spot and eject anyone whose purpose in being there is voyeurism or sexual gratification.

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  5. Randy said on November 3, 2003 at 1:00 pm

    Alex said: “(Nudists are) quick to spot and eject anyone whose purpose in being there is voyeurism or sexual gratification.”

    Really? Damn…

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  6. Bob said on November 3, 2003 at 3:18 pm

    Michael wonders what it is about the sight of a woman’s breast that terrifies fundies; I wonder what it is about the mere thought of seeing another man’s penis, especially erect, that sends purportedly heterosexual male fundamentalists over the edge.

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  7. alex said on November 3, 2003 at 4:01 pm

    I wonder what it is about titties that excites anyone at all.

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  8. Randy said on November 3, 2003 at 4:33 pm

    That’s right Alex, and that’s true for all naughty bits in general. Not one thing about them is exciting. Nothing.

    Wait, did you say “titties”?

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  9. Nance said on November 3, 2003 at 4:48 pm

    I take it none of you wankers read the piece in the Times about the poor children being smuggled across borders by greedy coyotes. Tut, tut.

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  10. alex said on November 3, 2003 at 5:16 pm

    Indeed I did read it. And it made me contemplate the weird latin sexual baggage that will soon be added to the puritanical stuff. In another generation, this country will have more cultural divides than it can count.

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  11. ashley said on November 4, 2003 at 2:55 am

    Heh heh….you said “titties”….heh heh.


    Nude beaches in Europe get quite dull for me after about 5 minutes. Topless seem to be much more interesting. However, it seems that the typical euro nude beach patron is a 50+ year old man who is far too relaxed.

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  12. TravelBuff said on December 22, 2003 at 6:08 pm

    Nudism is not about seeing what someone looks like – it is about seeing who someone is.

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