Being completely naked strips us of more than our fabricated materials – our choice of clothes, shoes, shits, colors, styles, material, etc., are a part of our identity; who we are is defined by our choice of packaging. In a sense, clothing can provide an artificial identity. Depending on the event I might attend, my choice of clothing can profoundly affect my behavior, attitude, and mood. A two-piece suit gives me a level of confidence and security that I do not experience in cut-off shorts and a t-shirt. What if, however, I chose to attend a social event in the nude? Am I committing a deviant behavior or is social nudity a natural state without the need for a textile identity?
Depending on whom you talk to, nude recreation and nudism can be described as a great way to get in touch with nature and improve one’s self-esteem or it may be described as immoral and illegal. Such extreme opinions make this an interesting topic and worth further investigation. Is the desire to socialize with other people naked sexually driven or a healthy and safe means of socialization and stress relief?
Henry David Thoreau said “It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes” (Brainy Quote, 2011). Indeed, according to the modern nudist or naturalist, being unclothed in social groups induces an environment in which everyone is on equal grounds. Can inequality really be dissolved between various socio-economic groups, sexes, ages, incomes, etc., and be broken down simply by everyone disrobing and playing naked ping pong? According to the American Association of Nude Recreation and other nudists, the answer is yes (AANR, 2011).
Can clothing be a sign of oppression and deprivation or a failed society? According to The Deceit of Dress: Utopian Visions and the Arguments Against Clothing (Martin, 1991), yes it can. We make assumptions about each other based upon our clothing. In The Deceit of Dress, the author references poet Adolf Wolff: “We who have but rags to wear, let us go out on strike and face the robber-master class in all our naked might. Let us arise from our bodies tear the feted uniform that brands us slaves (Martin, 1991, p 80). Wearing clothing protects us to some degree but also identifies who we are – whether it is an executive or slave. In his poem, stripping down to nothingness puts everyone on even grounds and as equals; which coincidentally, is a common theme throughout the nudist communities.
Can Social Nudity be Healthy?
There is research that suggests social nudity increases self-esteem. However, some believe this behavior is unthinkable, immoral, and those who are engaged in this behavior or support it, are over-sexed and exhibitionists. And in some communities, being nude in public is not only considered deviant, but it is a crime.
Is Public Nudity Deviant?
Some research suggests that nudists display more deviant behavior than that of non-nudist. In fact,...