On Nudity (And Lack Thereof): Why Being Naked Isn't Always Awesome

Illustration for article titled On Nudity (And Lack Thereof): Why Being Naked Isn't Always Awesome

An interesting piece in h+ enumerates the reasons why being naked is good for both body and soul. I beg to differ.


Author Hank Hyena lets it be known early on that his opinion is not exactly based on sound scientific proof. Instead, he uses some fascinating "peripheral evidence," including studies done on bare feet and Alzheimer's, to prove his point that naked is best. The Greeks exercised in the nude! And thousands of Germans attended co-ed Nacktkultur schools. Hyena even lists a couple of famous naked dudes, including Leonard Nimoy, Alexander Graham Bell, Robert Heinlein, and seismologist Charles Richter. To make it even more attractive, nudity will also help you de-stress and avoid nasty UTIs. Hyena makes a good case for the benefits of baring-all, but I'm still not stripping down just yet. Here's why:

1. Nudity Makes Other People Uncomfortable
Hyena argues that if we all got naked, people would chill out and get used to it. However, I'm willing to wait for the trailblazers like Hyena & Co. to initiate change. As it is now, unless you're at a nudist colony or alone in your room, nakedness is a surefire recipe for uncomfortable glances and awkward staring.

2. Smug Onlookers
In the comments section, Hyena admits that one of the perks of looking at naked bodies is that, even if he can't quite enjoy the view, he can at least feel a "smug superiority" about his own birthday suit. This comment, while made partially in jest, is not exactly comforting and it just reaffirms what I suspected: public nudity can be a competitive sport, one that I'm not sure I want to participate in.

3. Clothes Are Beautiful
Yeah, yeah, the human body is a work of art. But honestly, it's a work I've seen dozens of times before. You know what I like? Beautifully constructed clothes. Furthermore, clothes allow us to project a certain image out to the world, a version of who we want to be. They are important social signifiers that allow us to locate like-minded folk. Nudity may be freeing, but it also strips us of some of our hard-won individual markers.

4. It's F-ing Cold
I live in New England. Last week, I spent a very unhappy hour digging my car out from underneath a snowbank. Even with heating, my bedroom is far too cold to allow naked blogging. And I don't even want to think about what kind of gas bill would result from all-day nudity.

5. Socialization Is Not That Easy To Overcome
We've spent our entire lives absorbing messages that the naked body is shameful, ugly, and somewhat gratuitous. Someone has made a lot of money marketing books and shows on How To Look Good Naked, which underscores the fact that you don't already look good naked. Nudity has become so closely linked to sexuality in our culture that the sight of a mother breastfeeding her child has become cause for alarm. While I don't agree with the moral panic that seems to surround the sight of a naked breast, the existence of said panic is enough to make many of us want to cover up.


6. There Is A Time And A Place
Lest I give the impression that I shower in cutoffs, I'd like to note that there is a good time for nudity. Showers, sex, and swimming are all quite enjoyable while naked. But as a particularly memorable Seinfeld episode once proved, there is a such thing as "bad naked." In Jerry's opinion - and in mine - opening a pickle jar is "bad naked." Lounging on a couch in a warm, private room? Good naked.

Get Naked: It's Good For Your Brain [h+]


Erin Gloria Ryan

Short selling financial stocks? Bad naked.