30 Aug From Rio To London – The Naked Truth
With the closing of the Olympics, I am taken back to my time in London 4 years ago where I was involved in a photo shoot with Photographer Andrew Scriven. The concept was to pay homage to the original naked Olympians, in front of London landmarks.
Society does seem to shun nudity as some kind of vile act. A repulsion towards our natural form. To state that this was a liberating and character building experience would be an understatement. You know that dream you have where you’re in a public space and suddenly notice that you aren’t wearing any clothes. Well, try experiencing it for real in front of one of the busiest cities in the world. Granted it was early in the morning, but gazing eyes were a plenty. It doesn’t matter whether there’s one pair or a thousand, the feeling of self-consciousness is the same. But each time you defy that weird vibration of fear which takes shape in you every time your body reacts to a fight or flight situation, you build this armour of self-worth that extends to all aspects of life.
But before I get on my naturist high horse, I’m also taken back to my last relationship where my then girlfriend wanted to have her nude form drawn and photographed. My reaction to this was anything but reciprocal. I (unintentionally) put my misogynist hat on and started mansplaining how seeing as women are constantly objectified, her focus should be on celebrating aspects of her mind. What is less than ideal is admitting to myself that I was governed by my own insecurities. I was owned by my patriarchal alliances. Having my girlfriend be fantasised about by potential threats compromised my ownership of her.
My new-found feminism has come a long way since then. I certainly don’t consider proprietorship over lovers but that fear still exists. We are ultimately but a product of our circumstances. It’s not an easy process to relinquish culturally inculcated behavioural patterns. The constant sexualisation of the female form combined with our biological predisposition to procreate is a terrible cocktail.
The idea of freeing the nipple gets us worked up into a nonsensical sweat which serves neither our women nor ourselves. In the same vein, our recent focus on burkas, also a point worth pondering…
Just because my experience has brought me to a place where I see nudity serving as an instrument of emancipation, doesn’t mean I am entitled to make an argument against women volunteering themselves into a religion where they preserve their bodies for their husbands. If being conservative is a source of their self-worth, then so be it. Who are we to argue otherwise. Plus in this very delicate time where Islamophobia takes centre stage with our very colourful media channels, it’s important that we don’t give reason to add fuel to that fire. So please for heavens sake ‘live and let love’.
To the Olympians, some of the greatest athletes in the world, I salute and thank you. Thank you for showing us what we are truly capable of as human beings and for never letting your limiting beliefs stand in the way of your greatness. As for my own path of self-discovery, I don’t profess to be a perfectionist. I’m in an eternal state of learning. My views aren’t to be taken as dogmas but rather an articulation of my own desire to grow.
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