Are women becoming more comfortable with their naked bodies? Yes. And no.
I think that we, women of the western world, are continually bombarded with news reports, magazine articles and so on which are tantamount to media terrorist atrocities against women, demanding we do this or that in order to conform to an idealised, unrealistic image of ourselves.
Look, some of us are fat, thin, tall, short, wearing the scars (sometimes quite literally, in respect of caesarean, mastectomy or hysterectomy operations) of this incredible journey of life. And yet we remain bombarded by the media in their quest to demand we be ‘perfect’. Little wonder we have so many insecurities about our clothed or naked bodies despite all of us being perfect already.
In that respect, then, no, we aren’t getting more comfortable with our own bodies, possibly we’re getting less comfortable with them.
I recently read an article about surgery to the mons pubis (the area of fat in front of which pubic hair grows) to achieve the ‘perfect mons’. Add to this a trend for labiaplasty, another procedure to create a designer vagina (best said in an English accent for rhyming excellence –designa vagina-) and it’s clear women are being bombarded with ridiculous procedures in order to look ‘perfect’. Oppressive, patriarchal drivel by the fashion industry, in other words. And we’ve not even discussed tummy tucks, boob jobs or implants into a bottom yet!
Men have always seem more comfortable with their own nudity. Whether it’s a desire to strut their stuff, or just the communal nudity in a male changing room, they do appear to grow up with it more easily and accept the naked bit more readily. Compare and contrast with the female changing room, a flurry of towels thrown on, or swimsuits worn in the showers (yuk!).
Could the already easy relationship with nudity, forged in school changing rooms, be the reason that men then go onto to embrace naturism much more than women do? Perhaps. I’m not going to make a definitive statement in that respect.
What I will say is that women getting more comfortable with their own nudity is a growing trend. Digital photography is the sole reason. Now, women will happily pose for a partner, it makes for a little bit of ‘naughtiness’ in a relationship to pose in lingerie or fully nude, perhaps even indulging in some sort of sex act. This wouldn’t be happening if it was necessary to trot down to a photo processing lab, would it?
The thing is, the male partner may sometimes have to cajole the female into participating, convincing her she’s beautiful. She then looks at the subsequent photos while still being entertained by further flattery and maybe starts to believe it. Which is a good thing. Partners are building up self-confidence.
The nature of our world also means that our partners regularly, or occasionally, now work away from home. Trips to another part of the country or to other countries. So previously staid and strait-laced women and men will now spice up these separations with the ‘naked selfie‘ phenomenon. You can even buy suitable poses in Second Life to take ‘selfies’ (check the Second Life Marketplace).
The younger generation now appear to be content to send naked selfies to one another through smartphone apps such as Snapchat.
Someone’s wife/girlfriend is snapped on a digital camera while in the bathroom. She seems unperturbed by her own nudity, on the contrary seeming confident in it.
Although not nude, this more mature woman takes a selfie with emphasis on her cleavage
The internet appears to be full of ‘naked selfie’ shots, but it appears to me that many of the subjects are certainly of teen age, and as it’s hard to be certain that they have reached the age of majority, I’ve decided I won’t upload any of these types of photographs to the blog.
Whether 17 or 67, women are now much more comfortable with this sort of casual nudity, all the more remarkable for knowing that in the internet age, it’s entirely possible that such photos will end up in cyberspace….forever! Yet they (and males too) seem content to continue to post these photos.
Whether taking their own naked selfie, or posing confidently while topless on holiday, it seems that there’s now no sense of shame in nude or semi-nude photography any more. And that’s a fabulous thing. The message of the current late teen and early 20s generation is that ‘these are my boobs’ or ‘this is my cock’ and the world should get over it.
In days gone by I would imagine that the only source of naturist photography was through magazines, some of which may have been slightly disconcerting for teenage boys learning that the (airbrushed) females had no pubic hair but no visible vulva either. Nowadays, due to the surfeit of material on the internet, we’re all aware of how the body of the opposite sex looks, and operates, from a young age. I know that there are some who think this explosion in ‘porn’ is a bad thing. In some aspects it is: it has ‘normalised’ practices like bondage and BDSM where it’s the woman, more often than not, who is depicted in scenes of humiliation or degradation. I disapprove of this. In other respects, to understand how a male erection and ejaculation operates, the difference between a cut and uncut penis, is to provide a kind of sex education that schools never broached in my day, which wasn’t, I guess, so many years ago.
For women perusing ‘pornographic’ material, there are aspects of it where there’s a realisation that ‘I’m fat, but many men seem to adore fat women, judging by the number of websites dedicated to the depiction of large ladies…there’s no real reason for me too ‘conform’ to the media’s concept of what is beautiful’. Which is good. So while the mainstream media continue to subject us to a form of body terrorism against ourselves, ‘pornography’ (something naturist websites are inconveniently added to) is also responsible for women becoming more confident with themselves.
In the longer term, then, while the naturist community decry their declining numbers and ageing population, it seems to me that, a decade from now, a generation of women who have a casual confidence to their own nudity may well be playing a key role in the revival of naturism, content to go to a beach and strip off unselfconsciously.
Of course, nothing I’ve said is ‘definitive’. It’s my opinion, based on what I see around me, on the internet and in real life naturism. Where naturism has long had a problem with males being much more ready participants in the lifestyle, often leading to ‘the single male problem’, it just may be that that is about to change in the coming years.
Second Life can play a part here too. I often encounter avatars whose ‘I could never go naked’ attitudes are subtly, quietly altered by their exposure to the naturist lifestyle within the game.
nb: I’d like to credit my SL friend WTF for partly being the inspiration for this post. A conversation late last night on naturism, in general, gave me the idea for this post.