The art of nudity: How to feel good in the buff
Women need a body-image overhaul to better appreciate their undressed
By Melanie Herscovitch
Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Beauty ideals have changed for women.
Standing in the women's shower at Currie Gym, I was suddenly
inspired. Surrounded by half-naked girls, I thought to myself—what
better bunch to talk to about nudity than the swim team? We shower
together, we change together, we are basically nude together.
While the swim team probably has the least qualms about being in the
buff, the girls still agreed that nudity continues to be a crucial
issue in society. While most are practically indifferent to male
nakedness, female nudity is undeniably a controversial issue with
which Western society continues to struggle.
For the most part, nudity still has a bad rap. People aren't
necessarily expected to keep their clothes on under the sheets, but
it's the associations that are made with being nude that get us
sidetracked. We flick on the tube, and boom—bare skin is popping out
like crazy. Christina Aguilera basically rips off her clothes in her
latest music video, "Dirrty".
Yet, to a certain extent, these celebrities aren't intentionally
trying to act promiscuously. Christina and Britney, though trying to
make money and using sex to do so, are presumably proud of their
bodies (fake, real, whatever). It's the way we automatically label
them and scorn them that causes all the commotion. And, who are we to
judge? What woman wouldn't say that it makes her somewhat content to
get a little dressed up, show a little cleavage and to put on a bit
"Women dress sexually as opposed to men. It's not that men are
uncomfortable with their bodies. It's just that women need to dress
not particularly to impress, but to outdo and compete with their
competitors—other women," says Kelly Sauvé, a U2 Education student.
The hunt continues: men are on the prowl for good-looking women.
"Women on the other hand are looking for mates who can support their
offspring," says Katherine Trajan, a U1 Civil Engineering student.
And what qualities does a man possess, enabling him to support a
family? Brains. Power. Money.
"A good body is just icing on the cake," says Nat Kehle, a U2
Without attaching a label to men's physical appearance, generally,
men find it easier to just take it all off. When talking with guys
about nudity, it becomes clear that they are fairly comfortable with
themselves in the nude.
"From my experience, we tend to be a lot more at ease when it comes
to being naked. I think it's just that women are more susceptible to
live up to what society has created for them," says U1 Political
Science student Matt Tontini. "Men, on the other hand, don't feel the
same pressures to be beautiful. We're not inundated with the same
degree of symbols and images as compared to women."
Men's bodies aren't being used to sell products and services to the
same extent as women's bodies, because they're not valued in the same
way. And with no label on what men should look like nude, it makes it
easy for them to be bollock-naked in front of anyone, anywhere, at
any time, as many of us may have oddly experienced at one point in
Talk to any girl and she'll most likely say that being nude with a
partner doesn't bother her. But compare her feelings about being in
the nude to those of her partner, and you might get a different
"When a couple is naked together, they're both thinking about the
same thing—the woman's naked body. The woman is self-conscious of
what she looks like, while the male is admiring her body," says
And it is this struggle of being sexy and exposing yourself versus
being overly sexual and becoming objectified that puts women
everywhere in a difficult position.
"The very consciousness of their nature must evoke [in women]
feelings of shame," writes Naomi Wolfe in her book, Promiscuities:
The Secret Struggle for Womanhood.
"What feels like sexual pride one moment can turn into shame the
next," adds Wolfe, when discussing how females continue to feel about
sexuality and their bodies.
Do we dress provocatively if we're proud of ourselves, but risk being
labeled a whore? And finally, how can society as a whole get over its
preoccupation with female nudity?
Society needs to relax. The more we focus on the negative aspects of
female nudity and sexuality, or try to deny them completely, the more
women feel the need to cover up. Instead, we should try bringing
female nudity out in the open to breathe, and then maybe we can move
on to more substantial topics.