Why is nudity so taboo?
It’s commonplace in the art world to draw nudes – and has been for centuries! Artists draw their spouses and models in all guises – clothed, partially clothed, fully naked and in a multitude of poses and moods. Personally, I love Degas’ series of ‘tub’ artworks from the 1800s – they’re capturing everyday life in really natural poses – with beautiful tones:
But what’s changed nowadays?
So despite these pieces of art featuring in galleries for years, what has changed in society that now makes us giggly and embarrassed to talk about nudity?
I do a lot of life drawing and when I mention it to new acquaintances, it splits opinion pretty much 50:50 – some people have done it before and the others say “I could never do that – I’d just be sniggering in the back row”, then proceed to ask questions about the age, genitalia size and hairiness of the models. And I’m not criticising the latter crowd at all, I’m just perplexed that this has become ‘a thing’ in the first place.
Why this reaction? When did it change? Or has it always been like this elsewhere than the art world? Is it an uncomfortable feeling within people? Is it because society tells you it’s wrong to celebrate the naked body in public? Is it because folk hate their own bodies so much?
I’ve even had people in my closest circle be uncomfortable with my nude art being “too naked for the public to see”.
I’m no naked rambler
As much as I’m championing the nakedness, I’m not sitting around hosting naked tea parties every weekend, and not proposing we do! However, I do feel that there’s space for us to be more comfortable with the idea and less censored of our own bodies – they’re beautiful, wonderful things!
Which leads me to the fact of: Why is it acceptable and almost encouraged to point out that you don’t like what you’ve got? We’re not taught to love ourselves, and if we do it’s seen as arrogance. My good pal Danni Gordon has set up the Chachi Power Project that’s out to encourage loving your body and celebrate body confidence – I’d encourage you to have a look at the website if you’re interested in this.
Online body positivity and body shaming
If it is the case that people are uncomfortable in their own skin, maybe society needs to fix this. I’ve been following a lot of the body positivity movement online in the past few months since I launched Beauty Laid Bare and I’m amazed in so many ways by it – the bloggers/vloggers are inspirational. I mean, the fact we need this movement in the first place is saddening. Body shaming is everywhere – press, advertising and keyboard warriors on forums and social media. It’s difficult to escape and we now actually have to combat this.
I’m not going to go into detail on how we change these norms as there are so many body positive bloggers that can say it so much more powerfully and succinctly than me – if you’re interested, have a look at @ScarredNotScared and @BodyPosiPanda.
Don’t get me wrong, it can be a positive thing that we look forward to seeing a partner naked for the first time – it’s a sense of intimacy. Sometimes not knowing what someone looks like naked is part of the thrill of it. So on the other hand, would that stop if we normalised nakedness? Or does life become like the cringe-inducing yet can’t-stop-watching Naked Attraction TV programme? If you’ve not seen it, I really don’t know whether to tell you to watch it or not…
Dating apps are filled with men and women asking to send nudes – it’s become normalised behaviour to ‘tease’ your potential partner with images of yourself (which stay around the internet forever by the way!) yet it becomes embarrassing or awkward once we see art with naked people in public. So why is this?
So you’re saying we should all walk about in the scud, Kayleigh?
Why not? Well for one, it’s kinda illegal… But what I am saying is can we look at why there’s an embarrassment behind nudity and see that it can be a wonderful thing to show off your body with pride?
If you’d like to look at a slightly different way of feeling good about being naked and loving yourself more than you already do – why not sign up to be drawn naked? Find out more at my Beauty Laid Bare section of my site. Previous clients have said it’s empowering and liberating, so what are you waiting for?
That was more of a questioning blog than anything, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on nakedness and whether is societal insecurities!
(Also, just putting this out there, I really don’t like the word ‘taboo’. It makes me feel a bit yuck – but it’s the best word for the job.)