October 17, 2018

SEX ON THURSDAY | Female in the Nude

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One of my favorite small luxuries in life is getting home and getting naked. I live for the silky touch of my bed sheets on my bare skin and love feeling totally free walking around à la nude. I didn’t grow up in a nudist household, but after living alone for a couple of years, I’ve definitely grown to love it. Yet, there’s a crucial distinction between being naked in the privacy of your own home and having the balls to stroll around naked in public. Unsurprisingly, the latter was on my bucket list.

Recently, I traveled to Germany and discovered that certain German cities embrace the idea of a “Free Body Culture,” which basically endorses an acceptance of nudity where society views naked bodies not as a source of shame, but as natural. Not necessarily a groundbreaking concept, but not true to my experience and exposure to nudity.

 

Is nudity empowering?

My first thought was Snapchat nudes. I always joke around with my friends that I wouldn’t be terribly angry if my nudes were to leak since I consider them artful masterpieces (I mean, the angles, lighting, and cramp-inducing poses deserve more credit than what they get from horny frat guys). Nevertheless, I would feel incredibly ashamed, and I know that such an incident could ruin my reputation for jobs, dating and even friendships.

The next thought that popped into my head was Kim Kardashian. Some attribute her rise to fame to her infamous sex tape, and her social media is full of shaming comments on her bare body. Other female celebrities undergo similar experiences when their private accounts are hacked and their nudes are leaked for the whole world to see, or even when they post risqué or revealing pictures. From these examples, I find it hard to believe that American society views female nudes as empowering.

The majority of renowned art pieces and modern marketing focus on women’s naked bodies. From celestial depictions of naked Venus in Greek antiquity to Manet’s Olympia, the female nude has captivated generations and has rendered (mostly male) artists rich and famous. I dare you to flip open the latest issue of Vogue or count the number of billboards displaying naked women — even if the product has nothing to do with a naked body. So why is seeing Kendall Jenner naked selling $800 boots more socially acceptable than seeing her nudes accidently leak on the Internet?

 

The most powerful difference here is her consent.

As it turns out, this simple concept of nudity as a natural state is a lot more complex than it seemed, and walking around a quaint little park in Germany, I was stunned even further. Multitudes of people — young, old, skinny, curvy, hairy, bare, etc. — basked in the sun’s heat under the public eye. I was shocked to see the diversity in nudity and the comfort of both the naked and the clothed people at the park.

Knowing me very well, my friends weren’t surprised when I unbuckled my leather belt and slipped off my jean skirt. Slowly, I took my shirt off and taking a deep breath, I unclasped my lacy bra and slid off the matching panties. With grass tickling my bare butt, I laughed and posed for my first ever publicly nude photoshoot. While I don’t think it was the sexually tantalizing kink that I thought it would be to me, public exhibitionism was officially off my bucket list, and I enjoyed every second of my nude escapade.

Truth is, I still don’t know if nudity is empowering or not, but to me, stripping and posing naked in that German park felt like the ultimate homage to the beautiful body that I’ve worked hard to know and love.

Veuve Cliq-Hoe is a student at Cornell University. Fire & Ice and Cherries in the Snow appears monthly this semester.