Monday, September 12, 2011

in celebration of being naked

Brugge 2 by Spencer Tunick. Installation of 700 naked people arranged in a theatre in Bruges.

There are brave souls in every land
Who worship nature, grand and nude,
And who with swift indignant hand
Tear off the fig leaves of the prude.
--Robert Ingersoll

I recently bit the bullet and splurged on a membership to the local fancypants all-female gym. This place is incredible. I’m talkin soothing eucalyptus steam rooms and unlimited towel service, y’all. It’s the swankest gym I’ve ever been to and I adore it.

So I was surprised to see that the Yelp score for my gym was only 3.5 stars. What more could anyone want out of a gym??

A quick read through the comments revealed a troubling trend: women were voting Healthworks down because of the naked women in the locker room.

Wait, what?

Okay everyone, listen up. This is important.


Just ask this girl.

Locker-room nudity has long been a source of anxiety for me. Even when I was a small child, I assumed that a room like a locker room that was designated for single-sex clothes changing would be an acceptable place to take one set of clothes off and put another set on.

I was wrong.

Surrounded by my blushing cohorts, each one modestly turned to face the lockers, all of whom somehow knew how to change clothes without exposing one square centimeter of flesh (I still haven’t figured this one out), I quickly realized that I’d better follow suit or risk being considered an underage Sapphic exhibitionist. So I dutifully turned toward the lockers and learned how to put a swimsuit on without removing my teeshirt.

Even then, I knew the truth.

These girls were full of shit.

Being naked is great.

I’m not alone in my ~radical~ views on nudity. The ancient Greeks didn’t just go naked in their locker rooms—they did their entire workout in the buff. That’s why gyms are called gyms—the name is derived from the Greek word gymnos, which means naked. These people are complaining about nudity in a place that we basically call the nakedtorium.

Modern luminaries like Alexander Graham Bell, Leonard Nimoy, and author Robert Heinlein are also vocal proponents of the benefits of nudity. Abraham Maslow, the brain behind Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, states "I still think that nudism . . . is itself a kind of therapy." In fact, there are thousands of people all over the world who believe in the benefits of nudity. They’re called naturists or nudists.

Are there tangible health benefits to nudity? Yes. No. I don’t know. WHO CARES? It feels great. Sleeping naked keeps your temperature regulated nicely, not to mention the feeling of cool sheets pressing against your body. Swimming naked means no nasty infections from wet bathing suits, not to mention the feeling of water rippling across your body. Sunbathing naked stimulates vitamin D production—which we northern dwelling creatures need so badly in the winter--not to mention the feeling of warm sunlight warming all of the palest, most secret places. The mental benefits? Immeasurable. Being naked does a body good.

So here’s your imperative: Go take your clothes off!

Not sure what to do with your new nude self? You can participate in World Naked Gardening Day, or the World Naked Bike Ride. Wikipedia helpfully suggests nude activities like skinny dipping, nude snorkeling, nude canoeing (or “canuding”), or even nude hiking or ”naked rambling.” (I participate in an alternative version of naked rambling, wherein I stand around my apartment in the nude and talk to myself.) If you also enjoy thumpy music and flashy lights, you will love going naked at Burning Man and other regional burns, where clothing is optional. My particular tribe of burners have pioneered the field of nude line-cooking at our annual Pantsless Pancake Breakfast.

It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you try doing it without clothes.

Now go forth and naked your world up!

If anyone needs me, I'll be naked in the locker room giving my gym a bad name.

Discussion question:
Do you like to get naked and run around? If you think I'm nuts, please tell me, because that will be fun too.


  1. But think of the children!!

    .. who also want to run around naked...

  2. I don't care who you are, 2 and a half minutes into a naked party and you're going to chill the f out. :)

  3. you OF ALL PEOPLE would know about naked parties :P

  4. Girl, I live in Hawaii: the land of hot, humid summer and a strange aversion to air conditioning. My entire house is pretty much a nakedfest all the time and I'm absolutely sure that some number of my 7 other roommates have seen as much of me as my husbro.

    Similarly, when getting dressed to go somewhere the general public seems to ask itself, "How naked can I be before anyone gets offended?" and we seem to have tacitly agreed that the answer is "A lot. A lot naked."

  5. god bless warm climates and their sensible wardrobe choices :)

  6. Haha, this is awesome. I'm convinced everyone really likes to be naked, but some folks are scared to admit it for some reason. It's so liberating (plus, I also always live in hot climates)! Who doesn't love to run around the house nekked or go skinny dipping? Time to shake off the junior high locker room sense of shame...

  7. Now go spread the good word of liberation to Italy.


  8. "Sapphic" is spelled with two p's? Aw, I've been spelling it like an idiot...

  9. Yup. Sappho is spelled Σαπφώ in Greek, so it's a p sound followed by a ph/f sound. Glad I could save you from future misspellings. :)

  10. Not to rain on the nekkid parade, but....

    Partway through Burning Man a couple weeks ago I was biking back from the "bathrooms" and got delayed by what turned out to be the topless bike ride. Now these ladies looked like they were having fun, but I was a little skeeved out by the rows of men gleefully cheering them on. For some reason it was clear they were spectators rather than participants (not for lack of nudity, something about the attitude), and that sort of thing is the reason why it doesn't feel particularly liberating to bare all. I draw a distinction from innocent playful perviness (like our older British neighbor who suggested we join his party as strippers, or the guy with the, um, very entertaining margarita maker) but sometimes people are taking advantage, and it kinda spoils the fun. Or maybe that's just me. :)

  11. that's a fair point. to be honest, I feel that gaze (in the Lacanian sense) all the time whether I'm wearing clothes or not, so it doesn't make a big difference to me.

  12. "Modern luminaries like Alexander Graham Bell, Leonard Nimoy, and author Robert Heinlein are also vocal proponents of the benefits of nudity."

    Just wondering if you could cite any specific source on Alexander Graham Bell being a vocal proponent of nudity. As obscure as that fact may seem, it would help me out a great deal!

  13. I wish I could, but all I can find are websites saying generally that he was a skinny dipper and sunbather. I have no idea where that info comes from, but here I am doing my part to propagate it! Sorry producerism!!