the anonymity of nudity

12 02 2009

Social nudity is an interesting thing. Having just attended my first social nudist event recently, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the subject. Today when I saw the postal carrier pull up to our apartment, I thought, Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go to the mailbox without getting dressed? What if the postal carrier were also nude? I thought about how we know a postal carrier and other uniformed professionals based on their clothes, and I realized that without clothes, while we are much more exposed physically, our lives become a bit more of a mystery.

When you encounter someone, you can make a number of inferences about that person’s lifestyle based on the clothing that they wear. Delivery drivers wear uniforms based on the company they work for. A bike messenger carries a bag and wears a helmet (ideally). A CEO is dressed in a business suit. A homeless person’s clothes are mismatched and well-worn, while a trendy urban hipster wears pre-ripped jeans and a pea coat. You can’t make absolute statements about many people just by looking at their clothes, but you can certainly get in the ballpark. You might be able to guess religious and political affiliation too.

Once the clothing is gone, though, all bets are off. A deductive wizard like Sherlock Holmes could probably draw some information about us from the callouses on our hands or a slight limp, but aside from hairstyle and (maybe) tattoos and jewelry, the primary visual markers that most of us use to make judgements about each other are gone. Even tattoos can’t necessarily be a good guide, as I’ve already mentioned. And jewelry can tell you a bit – married or single, of this or that religious faith, etc. We’re left with bare skin, and it tells us hardly anything. The delivery driver, the bike messenger, the CEO, the homeless man, and the urban hipster all look the same.

Nudity anonymizes us, it levels the playing field, and allows us to approach each other as equals. Class distinctions vanish, and we no longer need to worry if we’re behaving in a way that the other person will understand or appreciate. We can finally be ourselves.

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One response

14 02 2009
All Nudist

You hit the nail on the head. When you meet a naked person, you have to actually get to know them, at least a little, to find out who they are.

We have no ‘uniform’ of any sort. We all look alike, profession and wealth-wise.

When we’re back in ‘normal’ society we put on the trapping of the image we wish to convey. Essentially, we become dishonest. Or, if not dishonest, we deliberately portray an image for others to see.

That’s a lot harder to do when your’e starkers!

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