Normalising Nudity: putting a stop to body sexualisation
In a society where photo shop, face tune and other editing apps are so prevalent, self love of your natural body is a genuine act of bravery. We are constantly retained in sexual oppression, where people within our modernised western world perceive beauty only through the social norm of this false yet ‘idealistic’ human body; free of cellulite, stretch marks, birth marks, skin conditions and blemishes.
But why do individuals try and succumb to this exclusive yet illusive mould?
Well, because it’s viewed as Sexy. Stimulating. Attractive. Beautiful. Because we maintain this materialistic perception that our bodies hold our self worth as a human. Whether it is subconsciously or in a deliberate attempt to sexually objectify the human body, we are all responsible for doing so. We are accustomed to view the body as a ‘prize’, rather than a natural form, and this is predominately where our troubles regarding sexism, rape culture, eating disorders, negative self image and discrimination of diversity stems from.
The solution to all taboo surrounding body sexualisation is simply, to normalise nudity!
Still, not everyone is convinced. Individuals disagree with this notion due to the stigmas associated with nudity and how being present in your natural form is somehow associated with being ‘sexual’. So, I talked to three of Australia's accomplished nudity advocates and naturists to gain their perspective on the matter.
It’s not about being ‘sexy’
Body objectification is becoming more prevalent in modern times and we can say a big thank you to social media for this. However, not all social media platforms and the corresponding users utilise these forms of broadcasting for negative purposes. There are users out there that take control of their stage in order to benefit society. One of which is Brendan Jones, body positivity advocate and founder of Get Naked Australia. Brendan has demolished body sexualisation and the negative stigmas surrounding nudity through sharing his naturist lifestyle on Instagram, and by doing so, he has already acquired a massive 230,000 followers; “initially it started off as a bit of fun, until I received a number of emails from people stating how the naked in nature concept has helped them love their body again. I thought this could really do a good thing for body positivity but also push a very positive message that all bodies are real and that we need to normalize nudity and separate it from sex”.
A major objective of Brendan’s platform is to promote body positivity in terms of identifying with the bodies in the photographs, as they display raw and authentic body types; “people are fed up with being fed edited lies. Get Naked Australia is relatable to everyone, because everyone likes being naked, and you can nearly always find someone like ‘you’ on the page”. The media endorsed ‘idealistic’ body just isn’t going to cut it within our society anymore. In regards to mental health, Brendan believes the more diverse the page becomes, the better the reach of improving an individual’s psychological health; “to the individual, its empowerment and confidence. It’s saying this is me in all my glory and I’m not ashamed”.
Get Naked Australia also eliminates the idea of body objectification and proves that non-sexual based nudity can in fact exist within our society. Brendan highlights that nudity can equal sex, however, there is a massive area in which it does not, and this is the area that people choose to ignore and the reason why there is such controversy and a large consistency of taboo associated with the naked body. The page demonstrates that diverse groups of people can co-exist and participate in activities such as swimming together, and there be no ‘sexual vibes’ present; “to me, naturism is about the connection to nature and the outdoors and being naked is a part of that”. These words spoken by Brendan are inspiring, as it really does not matter who you are or what you look like, your body is a part of nature, and there is beauty to be found in everything natural.
Nude…it isn’t rude!
Nudity, if viewed for what it really is, isn’t actually rude at all. However, not everyone obtains this mutual perspective as described by nudist photographer and large scale body painter, Imogen-Ivy Murray. Imogen explained that when she shares her occupational status, people automatically associate it with the adult film industry or present with sexual connotations without seeing her art prior; “I think people think this as when they see nudity it is often porn or when they are in a sensual mind frame with someone. Majority of people don’t grow up in a nudist household and see it as being comfortable and normal”.
At age 18, Imogen began to feel more comfortable in her own skin, something we as humans should always feel. This encouraged Imogen to pursue her career in nudist photography as she began posing and photographing others nude in order to show case her art. She believes the best way to break down barriers and differentiate between non-sexualised nudity and being naked for sexual intimacy purposes begins with education and respect. This is just one of the reasons she is extremely passionate about her work, as she aspires to educate and share the movement that nudity does not need to be sexualised; “I have never been at a shoot and been turned on or had a sensual mind frame. I have never been intimate with a client pre or post shoot. I take my art very seriously”.
Unfortunately, even as a business woman, respect isn’t always reciprocated. She still has individuals contacting her and asking for sex, as well as making inappropriate comments and implying she is sexually ‘easy’ due to her nudist lifestyle choices. Imogen shares that the comments can be hurtful as the nature of the remarks do not replicate her personal experiences at all; “just because someone is a nudist doesn’t mean they want to have sex with you and/or everyone. People can be so small minded and prejudice”.
Bend over and make light of nudity
David Pillar, owner of Pilwarren Nudist Park and coordinator of the annual Maslin Beach Nude Games believes that when a person removes their clothes, all barriers are removed. The nudist lifestyle preaches acceptance solely for a person and their corresponding characteristics, not the way they appear.
David states that the nude games held in Adelaide, South Australia, assist in promoting nudist and naturist lifestyles and promoting body positivity, self acceptance and confidence in regards to diversification of body size, type and shape; “the games attract hundreds of people each year and it is a positive and non-threatening way to introduce the nudist lifestyle to those that have never tried it yet are still curious, and without the additional pressure to be nude if or until they are comfortable”.
The main objective of the nudist games is to help non-nudists understand that nudity does NOT, under any circumstances, equal sex. David noted that nudists can be nude without it being a ‘sexual experience’- which is absolutely true! The games assist in preventing body sexualisation and help enlighten individuals with the notion that you can in fact make light of nudity by joining in on some harmless fun. There are numerous misconceptions and stigmas associated with nudity, the main one being the apparent sexual implications when presenting as naked. But here’s an idea… instead of sexualising nudity, why don’t we imitate the attitudes of those that attend the nude games? Why not just strip off and make light of nudity so that we can learn to appreciate our body’s and accept diversity no matter what shape, form, orientation, size or colour.
The Revolutionary Social Movement
If we, as a society, can learn to differentiate between nudity for the sake of being our raw and authentic selves, from nudity for intimacy and sensual purposes, rather than constantly sexually objectifying the naked body, we could create a safe and accommodating world through the elimination of negative body depictions, discrimination through the media, sexism and rape culture.
So empower yourself, embrace nudity and let’s start a revolution… a rebellion so strongly associated with being fearlessly and unapologetically content within our natural form. Because just like the wise American Drag Queen RuPaul once said; “you’re born naked, and the rest is drag”.
Social Media Handles
To learn more about naturism, nudity and embracing the lifestyle, the following interviewees can be contacted on their corresponding media platforms.
Brendan Jones- Founder of Get Naked Australia
Imogen Ivy- Nudist Photographer and Large Scale Body Painter
David Pillar- Coordinator of the Maslin Beach Nude Games, Owner of Pilwarren Nudist Park