Nudity and Authenticity

Tilling dressed for the season

Naturism is not just about taking off one’s clothing. Nothing is that simple for us humans. Naturism almost always talks about the honesty of being naked, as if by removing one’s clothing, one reveals the authentic person that one really is behind the clothing. That is simplistic thinking. Who we are as individuals is so complex that even we are not really aware of our own depths. We have a limited consciousness about who we are. We consciously carve out an identity in relationship with others, or so we think. With this conscious knowledge of who we are, we make decisions about just how much to reveal.

The naked body is just that, a naked body, not our identity or our conscious sense of self. When others meet us when we are naked, they still have a lot to learn about us in order to know us as more than just a body.

What do you think? Is nudity enough for being authentic? Is it all  you see is all there is?

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11 Responses to Nudity and Authenticity

  1. Allen Knudsen says:

    You raise the issue of the complexity of being authentic and being naked. Orthodox Christianity teaches that one ought not cut one’s hair or shave: to do so is a matter of “vanitas” and to be a faithful Christian one leaves one’s appearance up to God. Yet I have met Orthodox Christians who practice naturism, and who do trim or remove their pubic hair (and shave their faces and cut their hair, as well) … and these are men and women of deep faith and integrity, and an aspect of both is their (often understated) complexity.

    So, to answer your question: to see me naked (as you have, if only in photos) is not to see me in my full authenticity. And yet, I hope that my associates at work or fellow practitioners in religious worship, most of whom in either place do not see me naked, have an experience of me that is authentic, that is honest.

    I wonder if it is that we are in the process of revealing ourselves, variously, in various contexts: one context might be a photo of myself, naked, posted on a naturist web-site, because that is one of the things that many of us do (at least when we get up the courage to flaunt old conventions); another context is when I speak in public, when I am probably not naked, but I hope speaking honestly. In both instances I choose to reveal myself, at least to a degree.

    I think that in either place it takes a great deal of courage to “show the Other who and what we are”. But in fact, I wonder if the greatest courage is not a matter of showing one’s self who one is … So whether we are disrobing visually or verbally, the challenge is to stand naked before one’s self, with all one’s dignity and with all one’s blemishes: and then, also, to accept one’s self.

    • rglongpre says:

      As always, Allen, you bring a lot to any discussion. I always think back to Sidney Jourard’s book, The Transparent Self, when there is any discussion about authenticity which has everything to do with transparency. Yes, we have been discussion transparency and authenticity in terms of naturism, but transparency goes deeper than one’s state of dress or undress. None-the-less, stripped of clothing one can definitely state that “less” is hidden.

  2. Greenbare says:

    “The naked body is just that, a naked body, not our identity or our conscious sense of self. ”

    You are your body. YOU are not your rose garden. Every thought and past action is reflected in the form of your face and body. Lines of worry or smiles of joy. Wrinkles from living long. Its all there.

  3. David says:

    No . In fact the opposite could be true – that removing the outer layer ( our clothes , and perhaps the most superficial ) – we create a barrier to real connection . We have no way of knowing how another might process our nakedness . Before I became a naturist , if another guy approached me in the locker room and he was nude I felt uncomfortable . Conversely , he may not have helped me overcome my own reticence about being naked . But did that lead the way to each of us becoming more authentic – probably not – context was different – in an setting like a gym / locker room our expectation or intention would be very different .

  4. Vittorio Volpi says:

    Being naked is like a fair copy of myself. Therefore I like so much being naked, at home and in nature. I feel there is more “conversation”, I perceive myself as snug as a bug in a rug. This conversation may go accidentally to anyone could see me. My well being makes me feel all right, protected instead of helpless (greek “gymnos”). The stage of my happiness is intangible. With my clothes, I’ve put away most of my “addictions” to society and immediate social environment.

  5. David Harold says:

    People sometimes assume a familiarity, often in online nudist forums, when they see a photo of me naked. Hiding nothing. And of course, what lies behind the eyes and within is not revealed in the naked body. Whether in 2D or 3D. But as many of us often hide our true selves, perhaps for fear of rejection or not confident of social acceptance, the courage to be physically naked in front of others (which is a big deal for many people, if not so much for naturists) can be a stepping stone to revealing more of our inner selves. This is reflected, I find, in many conversations I’ve had with fellow nudists who speak of the honesty and openness of interactions they experience with others in socially nude settings. Nudity can perhaps be a kind of statement that signals to others that I have nothing to hide. But clothed or naked I must get to know and trust the other person before we share more of our authentic selves.

  6. William Bade says:

    Your article, as usual, stimulates my thoughts. I have enjoyed each one. Please keep them coming.

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