Becoming a Nudist – Chapter 1. Nudity, Body and Sexuality – The Human Body

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Previous post: An Introduction

Let’s face the reality: every human being has a body. Males have a male body. Females have a female body. Non-binary individuals have a non-binary body. Outside any sexual consideration, we may question what makes a body. When we think about it, a few physical characteristics come to mind: a head, a torso, two arms and two legs. However, some individuals have only one arm, some none. Some others have only one leg, some none.

Beyond the number of limbs, some people have hair over their body, some have none. Some are shaving their hair, some are not. Females have more developed breasts than males, although some have tiny breasts, while others have big ones. Some females have large areolas, some small ones.

As we can quickly see, our appearance can vary greatly from one individual to another. What lies beneath this appearance does not vary, though. To function our body requires many organs and systems: brain, stomach, liver, muscles, tendons, etc. To function our body requires that we eat, take care of ourselves, evacuate waste, sleep, drink, just to name a few actions.

As we explore the human body, let’s pause here for a few minutes. Wherever and whenever we were born and have grown up, our bodies have the same organs and require the same activities to be alive. Despite our skin colour, our sexual orientation, our religion, our age or any visible differences, we all have the same organs and need to perform the same vital activities. Our basic understanding of those invariables allows us to view the world in a new and more egalitarian view.

What makes differences between bodies are physical perceptions and our interpretations. We all have feelings when we meet people. We find some are pleasant, some are not. Some are to our liking, some are not. Some are beautiful, some are not. I can continue like that for pages, as we all have ways to label our interpretation of people. The moment we interpret our feelings about somebody, we put a judgement and a label, which put the person in a box to us. However, let’s go back to this person’s body. It’s the same as ours in most of its characteristics.

So Few Differences

At the genetic level, we are 96% similar to chimpanzees. This means we are sharing 96% of our genome with great apes. That’s a lot. If we find two things sharing 96% of the same characteristics, we could draw the conclusion those are almost similar. From a visual perception, a human being is not similar to a great ape you may say. The physical scientific reality is we are at 96%. Chimps and bonobos are our ancestors. According to an article by the Smithsonian Institute, humans diverged from chimps and bonobos between 8 and 6 million years ago. Our species had ample time to evolve, adapt and vary, which it did.

At that DNA level, science estimates that we have, on average, around 20 million pairs of genes that differ between individuals. If that may sound a lot, it’s around 0.6% of the 3.2 billion pairs all human beings have. So yes, we are all 99.4% similar at the genetic level. Next time you meet somebody that looks different to you, think about that fact. What seems different is visual perception, not physical reality.

This DNA similarities explain why we have all the same body organs. All humans are 99.4% similar. Of course, the 0.6% difference makes a lot and creates not only visual differences, but also differences at many other levels, like our immune defence for instance, or our ability to metabolize food.

Visual Differences

Let’s look at the picture below. You see a male and a female. If you can look at yourself naked and compare you to one of those human beings in the picture. You will probably have a lot of visual differences: more hair, thicker thighs, bigger breasts, who knows? But intrinsically, you are similar. And this is an important point to consider. Beyond our visual differences, we have the same body characteristics that are the results of our evolution and are necessary to our survival.

Human_Body.jpg: Mikael Häggströmderivative work: Parzi, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

We have a head with eyes, nose, ears and mouth, a neck, a torso, arms, hips, legs, feet, and sexual attributes. We can go to more details, like nails, eyebrows, nipples, belly button, etc. But let’s face it, we are similar. We need to think more about this critical point and integrate it in our attitude. All bodies have the same characteristics and are 99.4% similar at the DNA level.

Now, we have differences. Some of us have scars. Some have deformities. Some are taller or smaller, fatter or thinner. Some have darker complexions, some lighter. Some have blond, brown or red hair. Some have hair, some don’t. Some have visible muscles, some don’t. Some are old, some are young. You can continue on and on, as each of us is different, while similar.

When you look at people, for instance on the street or at the store, you will see a variety of body shapes and colours. But, stop for a moment, and look beyond the differences. You see the same bodies: head, shoulders, torso, arms and legs.

“Private” Parts

But what about sexual attributes: breasts, vulvas, penises? Well, a couple of ideas here. First, we will see in the subsequent parts of this chapter that I, and many nudists, don’t see those body parts differently from the nose, fingers or feet for instance. Second, the collage below illustrates the differences between penises and breasts. They all look different, while they all are similar. Some are bigger than others, saggier than others, hairier than others.

Personal collage from anonymous pictures
Personal collage from anonymous pictures

Pause while looking at those pictures. If you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself why they make you uncomfortable. Maybe you were always told that sexual body parts would not be on display. Maybe your religious beliefs teach you that your private body parts are dirty and should not be looked at. You may not know the reason. Whether or not you’re comfortable with the idea, consider those body parts from a medical point of view. They are just body parts that have a physical function not related to any sexual activity. Men use their penis to pee and women their breasts to feed babies.

Using a medical point of view, have a look at all the differences between those penises and those breasts. There are many. Actually, all are different. However, all are similar. Being factual, a penis is made of flesh, has a length and a girth that vary from man to man, and may have been circumcised for religious or medical reasons. Breasts vary in shapes, size and firmness, but are made of flesh and ends with areolas and nipples.

Compare them to, let’s say, fingers. We all have ten fingers, made of bones and flesh. Each finger is different and when you compare your fingers to somebody else’s, you will see many differences in size, flexibility, nail shape, etc. All different, while all the same.

Religious Thoughts

Because we are thinking animals, we need to set aside all our religious and cultural beliefs, and take the medical view I talked about. I know that for some people it may be a tough exercise as religion or culture is so deeply ingrained in their way of life. Some follow the Law of God and consider that a naked human body cannot be seen. This is particularly true for traditional Jews and Muslims for whom modesty is a fact of the Law. For all other religions, particularly for Christians, a naked body, outside any sexual behaviours or thoughts can be seen. Simple nudity is therefore not an issue.

Much has been written about religion and nudity. This post is written from an atheist point of view. Hence, if you have any question regarding nudity and religion, I encourage you to discuss with any religious scholar or do your research, and come with your conclusions. However, after some personal research, it seems only Judaism and Islam imposes modesty by the Law of God and all “private” – read sexual – body parts need to be covered at all time. The only exception concerns cleanliness and keeping the body clean (shower, ablution or bath) within the privacy of one’s own bathroom. Hence, traditional Jews and Muslims cannot become nudists, without breaking the Law of God.

Clothing?

In the next part of this chapter, The sexual feeling, we will come back on the notion of “simple nudity”. It is key to nudism, naturism and the normalization of nudity. For the moment, let’s remain on the topic of the human body. During millions of years, our ancestors went naked and invented clothing for protection against the cold and other elements like rain. Anthropologists estimate that clothing appeared somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 years ago.

The website History of Clothing teaches us a lot about clothing. However, it appears that clothing, initially, served only one purpose: protection. With advanced techniques of sewing and cultivation, the first women and men invented fashion. However, it was only thousands of years later that nudity began to have a sexual connotation. Today, many tribal populations still go nude, like the Dogon of Mali, the Koma of Nigeria or the Zo’é of Brazil. Living under warm climate, they go naked without shame or any sexual connotation.

This shows that for early human beings, a nude body is just a nude body. Nothing else, nothing more. Going nude is therefore not carrying any other signification than just being.

Body Changes

To become a nudist and embrace nudism, we need to rationally consider the human body as our corporal envelope that does not carry any meaning. We are born naked, we can be naked as a child without shame or challenge, we need to accept to be naked as an adult without same or challenge. A body is just a body, we all have the same! Therefore, a naked body is just a naked body. It does not carry any meaning per se, and should not be labelled as something else that a naked body.

Unfortunately for us, in our evolution, our bodies change. It is particularly a challenge at puberty. At around 10 to 11 for girls, 11 to 13 for boys, puberty kicks in. Children get taller and stronger, while hair grows, sexual organs evolve and all the body changes. At puberty, our hormonal system gets very active and our feelings are directly impacted. Many kids who have been raised in nudist families tend to cover themselves and to feel ashamed by their body. It’s a natural feeling and no rational reasoning helps in these situations.

Although a lot of talking is necessary to explain how and why the body changes. It will also help to normalize the situation as everybody goes through it. However, nothing is wrong here. It’s normal, although uncomfortable sometimes. The more you talk to teenagers during puberty, emphasizing the normality of the situation while acknowledging the changes and their discomfort, the better for them to accept their body.

As we have seen, we all have the same body and small or large differences are not an argument to hide it. Rationally, there are no reasons to hide our bodies if temperature and security allow us to be naked. It’s religious and cultural norms, created by men and women, that have led to associate shame and modesty to naked bodies. Those religions and cultures have worked purposely to associate nudity and sexuality as we will see in the next part, and to go the opposite way of what our natural evolution had worked out.

Next Part: The Sexual Feeling

Strip Nude, Stay Nude, Live Nude and Share the Love of Nudism!

Photo Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

18 COMMENTS

  1. Becoming a nudist by Marc is lovely. One small question: The male genetalia is featured. Where is the female genetalia?

    • It’s a good question Raymond and a choice I made, as the vulva is a little bit concealed. But you are right, I need to add a set of pictures of vulvas to show the same diversity. Will add it in the final version for the book. Thanks for the comment.

      • Thank you Andrew.

        Martin, as Andrew says, all naturists are friendly and welcome others. Just let us know where you are located and where others can find you.

  2. As most children are, I was drawn to being nude as a youngster. Just felt better. That feeling has never left me. The “shame” of nudity or nude bodies definitely comes from religious “beliefs” and or teachings. And while some are more strict in their teachings, a lot of religions, at some point in time, point to the story of Adam and Eve as to where Nude and Shame “came” together.

    While there may be legitimate reasons to cover bodies, protection mainly, shame shouldn’t be one. Media of course hasn’t helped in the last century either. The fashion industry relies on covering bodies to survive. And they use “shame” also, designing clothing to make you look slimmer. Hide the preconceived “flaws” the we, as humans, all have. They aren’t flaws, but just differences. And we’re all different. Yet we’re all human.

    Nudists see us for who we are as humans. Not for differences. No shame, just human and proud of who we are.

  3. Thank you for this work. I really like the scientific validity of your work. I look forward to continuing with impatience.

  4. Very well done! Thank you for embarking on this project, Marc. We are looking forward to seeing the work come together and sharing it with others. We are always looking for new content that helps to normalize nudity in a way that the average textile person can easily understand. Keep up the great work!

  5. I was born nude I’ll, and I never will stop being a nudism and always be clear shaven body and I love wearing lingerie and always wear panties with style on a 57yrs old white male
    Thank You

  6. Great that you enjoy living naked, Shane. Many naturists like to be clean shaven too. Wearing women’s lingerie is more fetishism than nudism. Of course it’s your choice and your right. But it isn’t relevant to being a naturist.

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