Clear Nude: The Lens + the Nude, Issue IV, Summer 2015 ClearNude: The Lens + the Nude, Issue IV, Summer - Page 11

Ruminations on Nudity by Karen Rayne N udity receives a response in the United States – from arousal to outrage, The distance that we in the United States set between it is rarely left to its own quiet, inde- ourselves and our bodies is a rejection of our deepest pendent movement through space. vulnerability and therefore our most particular beauty. Even within the home, the politics of walking from the There are arguments about the cognitive or emotional shower to the bedroom without a towel are consid- or psychological aspects that set humans aside from ered with interest, or perhaps with shame if you are other mammals, but they all ignore the most obvious of a certain age, gender, or body shape. One’s lack distinction: our physical bodies. It is true that we use of attire in even that most intimate and private space our bodies differently than our mammalian cousins: by of sleep is questioned, as if perhaps you are doing covering them with clothes because of our advanced your neighbors a frightful wrong because of the slim (or repressed) psychological sense of shame, that we chance that a fire will drive you into the street in a make and wield increasingly complex tools, that we dreadfully and embarrassingly exposed state. When have a proportionally and evolutionarily overly large more than one generation is involved, the response brain. But why do we not acknowledge the very physi- to nudity can become shrill expressions of inherent cal nature that affords us the ability to conceptualize impropriety. In shared public spaces, the sight of an- and theorize about these particular differences? It is other human’s full set of warm curves and lines can our bodies that, first and foremost, set us apart from apparently cause such harm that it is legislated into the other animals. small and well marked corners of space, far away from those deemed vulnerable and religious. We are our bodies. Rejecting or ignoring them is a foolish endeavor that only leads to the further dis- Regardless of their presentation as such, puritanical connection and disintegration of our communities. opinions of and restrictions to nudity are hardly univer- Without our fleshy selves, although they offers such a sal human values. They come to us by way of our col- bare covering for our easily injured internal organs and lective political ancestors, the very religious and con- identities, we are merely units wandering and alone. servative forefathers who fled persecution to find their Acknowledgements of our soft curves and lines and own soil on which to follow their own beliefs and to do our needs for kind and gentle human-human touch are their own persecutions. Across many parts of Europe, growing in the United States, but we are far from ac- Asia, Africa, and South America, the worries that emo- ceptance countrywide. One day, though, perhaps we tions are tenuous, sensibilities easily offended, and will be whole, full, contained in our own rights rather identities at risk, do not overrule the possibility of the than by layers upon layers of a false sense of control sun and air caressing our most tender of places. Other that we currently employ. And then, my friends, we will cultures do not draw hard, thick squares in art and me- hold hands and run through the bluebonnets together. dia over women’s nipples and vulvas or men’s penises And we can approach a way of being that is right and and color them in black, turning the entire world into whole. ‡ their very own fear-based coloring book. Clear Nude | Summer 2015 11