I was reading an article from the People’s Daily Online, a Chinese newspaper, called, “Should naked human body be used as art symbol?” After having spent a number of years in China, I remain interested in the people and the country. Over the years, there have been a number of articles that wrestle with the issue of nudity in public. Nudity in private is a different matter in China. But, this isn’t really about nudity or non-nudity in China, it’s about how humans have found themselves in a very tight spot.
All humans are naked beneath their clothing, an evident fact when one is forced to remove a set of clothing for another set (there are people who avoid complete nudity by changing clothes under a loose robe) or when one takes a shower or bath (and yes, some people take showers and baths with some form of clothing to hide their nudity). In spite of the fact that we are naturally naked, being born without clothing, as a modern human species, we have a problem with that body. In simple terms, we find our bodies to be our enemies. And, it isn’t simply a matter of body-image where the right bit of plastic surgery or the right diet and/or exercise program will gift us with perfect bodies and therefore put an end to our obsessive love-hate relationship with our bodies. The problem goes deeper than that, much deeper.
Those who claim to be wise, tell us that it is all about religion, especially Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Religion is the rationale for strictures against nudity in the western world. Legal codes arise from church codes. A good case can be made for this, but it too simple of an explanation as it falls apart when we look both within and outside of the purview of these religions when it comes to accepting the naturalness of a naked human body.