Friday, October 11, 2013

Naked



“If I had the chance to see everyone naked, I would take it. I want to see everyone naked. I am just curious.” -Joe


This was a quote from one of our dear friends. There was nothing sexual about this comment. In fact, the very reason why he made it was because there was nothing sexual to be deduced from it. He also hoped it would shock us. He very truly was and is just interested in seeing what other people’s naked bodies look like.


Have you ever felt like that?


In all my trips around the world, I have found myself delighted to discover that I am on a nude beach of some sort. I find myself looking around, just curious about all the bodies around me.


Joel said it once, “Humans look so different.” He’s right. Sometimes, it is a wonder that we are all the same species in the first place. We look so different from one another. Even among the same races, there are so many varieties, shapes and colors. We really are a marvel to behold, each person, a masterpiece of variety and expression.


Inevitably, it seems that the only nudes I’ve ever encountered on a beach are very old. Usually, they are leather worn and the color of brass. Their skin hangs and sags. Once I saw a couple waking side by side and I was amused that I truly would not have known who was male or female had their genitals not been exposed.


You might be shifting in your seat as you read this. I’ve encountered a lot of people who are very uncomfortable with nudity. I get that. I felt like way when I was younger. I was raised by a very modest man in a community of very modest people. In one of my earliest memories as a three year old, I recall walking in on my Dad in the shower. He screamed like a girl and shoved me out of the room, slamming the door behind me. In any culture, the message was clear, “naked is bad.”


Later in life, naked just became sexual. Everyone who was naked was going to have sex. I heard it said among my youth leaders growing up, “There are two kinds of naked. There is naked ‘I am going to take a bath’ and then there is necked ‘I am up to no good.”


When I was nineteen I was visiting my boyfriend in Switzerland and I remember being utterly shocked when his 10 year old sister asked his dad to give her a bath. I was completely wierded out by that concept because my dad would have NEVER helped me bathe when I was that old. She was practically grown and puberty had definitely set in. He was just as shocked as me, but his shock was in my reaction. His response was quick and sharp, “You’re thinking is perverted if you think that is weird.” He was right. My thinking was perverted. In fact, I would venture to guess that our whole culture’s thinking is perverted.


When did naked become so forbidden? When did we have to hide our bodies?

What is so special about my body that I can’t show it to anyone except my spouse?


Does all nudity create lust? I don’t think so. I think that we teach each other when and where lust should happen. We’ve made it clear that nudity should create lust.


As a child, one of the most natural and wonderful things that I remember doing was ripping off my bathing suit and playing all day in the lake at my grandparents house. No one judged me; no one thought it was rude, sexy or weird. My cousin and sister did it too. We didn’t think twice about it. Children are free to be nude in most situations.


As an adult, I still enjoy the freedom of walking around nude. It has been empowering and liberating to realize that my naked flesh does not make men and women keel over with lust. Just because I am naked does not mean I am going to have sex with someone or that I am up to no good. Naked is simply naked.


I have known so many people that are entirely uncomfortable in their own skin. I know people who live alone and dress immediately when they get out of the shower, won’t even glance at their naked bodies in the mirror. Why? I’ve actually instructed those people to prance around after a shower or peer at themselves in a mirror just to really behold and feel the goodness of their God-created bodies. A couple have done it and actually report feeling more at ease and confident.


It is with such awe that I watch documentaries of tribes in Africa or South America that live and work and do all normal human things in the buff. I am fascinated because I cannot even imagine what that is like. What would it feel like to sit at my computer all day in the nude? What would it be like to change the oil on my car in my birthday suit?


I know what you’re thinking… “Claire is a nudist.”


I have been called that before but it isn’t true. I am not promoting nudity in all life situations. I like wearing clothing, the expression, the art form, the warmth on cool days. I just long for a world where naked isn’t sexual or forbidden.


Have you ever been in a locker room or been in a dance studio where everyone around you just stripped off their clothing without giving it a thought and you just stood there frozen by self-conscious fear of your own body?


When I studied abroad in Zurich, I had a good friend there who also was raised in a modest culture. We both wanted to take part in the epic gym experience at our university but we knew that it was looked down on to leave the gym without showering. We decided to go to a Kondi (jazzercise meets zumba) class together. Once class was done we followed the line of women to the locker rooms. Not only did everyone strip down to nothing and walk, proudly (it seemed) to the showers with a towel hung over their shoulders, the showers also had no doors or curtains at all. The showering room was really just a big room with shower heads all around the walls. Woman were just showering and catching up on life as they chatted back and froth, sharing shampoo and combs. To me, it looks like the showers from the Nazi death camps.


My friend and I were giddy and ridiculous, now that I look back on it. We felt like we were doing something insane, something daring. We wiggled out of our clothes. I tried desperately to appear cool and calm but could not feel entirely comfortable as my friend would break into sudden giggle-fits every few minutes. Once we were in the showers, we tried to talk naturally but we realized we were not looking at each other so it didn’t feel natural at all. Finally, there was this moment where I just said, “Lets just look at each other and get it over with.” We stood there a moment just looked at one another. We laughed, not because we thought the other looked funny or bad, but because we were so lame. Naked didn’t matter at all. It was so crazy that we felt that way. There was NOTHING to this but bathing.


 We considered that we had done something marvelous by conquering the showers at the ETH. My Swiss roommates thought we had lost our minds. I will never forget their faces as I described what it was like to shower with all those people. They thought I was so creepy for making such a huge deal out of it. They hadn’t ever considered that there was anything unusual about being naked when you shower, even with other people in the showers with you.


My friend is right; we all want to see everyone naked. It just isn’t a big deal. We are curious and we are curious because it is forbidden. Don’t we all know by now that forbidden fruit didn’t work out well for humans? Why do we continually recreate it?


As we move on as a culture, perhaps we should give each other a break. The Victorian Era has long past. Breasting feeding in public is not offensive. Taking off your clothing to hop in a lake for a swim is not a big deal. Helping your older child take a bath is what parents are there for. Walking in on someone in the bathroom only requires an “excuse me” and then let it go. In fact, I think we have made much too big of a deal about all of these “private moments.” We were born naked. We were created naked. There is nothing more natural that this.


Naked is naked is naked is naked. Without clothing does not mean “without morals.”