Perhaps one of the most unfortunate effects of America’s sexually shaming culture is the way it has made us feel about our own bodies and the inherent beauty in all of them.  There’s a lot to be said for advertising and Hollywood and whatnot giving us impossible ideas of what a beautiful body is, but nonetheless, there are plenty of people who meet those stringent criteria who are STILL not comfortable with their bodies.

WHY?

Americans have created a culture where nudity is completely unacceptable, no matter the venue.  This clever article called European Nudes and American Prudes does a good job of showing how ridiculous some of our standards are- whether its outlawing nude beaches or limiting the number of seconds one can show anatomically-correct porcelain statues on a primetime TV show.  Conversely, many European countries embrace nudity in public:

In the south of France, sunbathing grandmothers have no tan lines. In Norway, young children play naked in fountains. On summer days, accountants in Munich head to the park on their lunch break to grin and bare it, trading corporate suits for birthday suits. It’s quite a shock to Americans (they’re the ones riding their bikes into the river and trees). In Belgium, huge billboards advertise soap by showing a woman’s lathered-up breasts.

I think the problem American’s have with nudity is the implicit mental connection between bare skin and sex.  And because American’s live in a society which deals with sex in such a bi-polar manner (Britney Spears vs. Focus on the Family), the idea of bearing it all in public is just too uncomfortable an association to be making.

Another fantastic example of society which is more accepting of public nudity is Canada.  I love, love, love this short article about Vancouver residents attempting to break the Guinness World Record for skinny-dipping. I think Elizabeth Westly, a 64-yr old woman who participated in the event, summed it up well when she said:

“Get down here to the beach, it’s healthy for you, it’s not (about) sexuality, or anything else like that,” She said. “We’re here for an important cause to promote nudism to say ‘hey, it’s not anything naughty.’“

If more people could embrace the beauty of their own bodies without worrying about putting forth the “wrong image,” we could have a much healthier society, both in terms of body image and sexuality.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

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