November 11, 2015

Getting naked for a good cause

No, I'm not stripping down! But I see a lot of it going on: supposedly empowering commercials featuring non-standard sizes of women in their underwear, for example. Activists stripping down in public and trusting strangers to hug or write on them. Daring to go bare.

I get the symbolism: stripping down to one's common, um, denominator is being metaphorically naked and real to the public.

But, really? Why is the standard for body confidence half-naked? Why is it appearance-based at all? Why, indeed, is it about others? For many, just standing in one's skin of a normal day is an act of boldness, alone in their room., fully dressed. It doesn't need to be in public, or shivering in the gaze of strangers.

This brings to mind an era when we were told we were "uptight" if we didn't want to embrace "free love."

I don't know that stripping down to one's skin is necessarily casting off one's self-consciousness. For some it is, and that is be applauded, but it shouldn't be the new standard of being real. I'm real in my clothes. I can be confident in my underwear without displaying my underthings. Confidence in one's body image need not be proved through how many layers we are ready to strip off. In fact, body confidence isn't about how we LOOK, anyway. It is not necessarily lack of self-confidence that keeps our drawers on, it is also social propriety and comfort and privacy.




2 comments:

  1. This post is spot-on. It reminds me of the recent "Safe Space" episode of South Park which dealt with the problem of "body shaming" when people post scantily clad photos of themselves on social media and then complain when people post negative responses.
    http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/videos/a39070/south-park-season-19-episode-5-shaming/

    Here's how I see it. Glorification of the thin ideal is merely a symptom of a larger societal problem. That larger problem is that society places entirely too much emphasis women's physical appearance. This has been a problem for centuries, but has gotten exponentially worse in recent years with the advent of the internet, 24-hour TV, and social media.

    Getting naked and showing off your body, then, is not going to solve that problem, even if you happen to be larger than what society currently deems ideal. Getting naked, or posting scantily clad photos of yourself online or on social media, is part of the problem. You are merely drawing more attention to your physical body. And commenting on these photos - whether your comments are positive or negative - is also part of the problem. Even comments that praise larger people for their "bravery" in showing off their bodies. This also draws more attention to women's bodies and reinforces the belief that a woman's appearance is of utmost importance, is the primary determinant of her self-worth and her worth to others.

    Sure, it would be great if society embraced a more diverse standard of beauty which included, among other things, body types that are not thin. But better yet, let's shift our focus altogether. Let's move away from the relentless focus on physical appearance. Instead, let's focus our time and energy on things that really matter. Instead of wasting time posting "selfies" on social media every day, or commenting on other people's "selfies," why not read a book or play an instrument or do volunteer work or spend quality time with loved ones or just about anything else that actually contributes to your character or intellect or talents or relationships.

    And no, getting naked on camera (even if you're not thin) will not prevent eating disorders or help people recover from them.

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  2. Here! Here! Well said, Dr. Ravin!!

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