A couple of well-written and fair-minded recent articles in the Montreal Gazette have brought renewed attention to the intersections between nudism and exhibitionism. The latter term, most of the time, has a negative connotation except for people who enjoy it. But I think there is also a “benevolent exhibitionism” of the kind in which many naturists and/or nudists are proud to engage. It means showing your body as a matter of pride, as a way of philanthropically contributing to our shared understanding of humanity, and demonstrating that you have not body shame but body acceptance.
This is also the kind of “exhibitionism” (being on exhibit) that would characterize the work of most life drawing and photography models, dancers, and actors who go nude in the name of art. And there’s a spectrum of this kind of benevolent exhibitionism that would encompass, at least in part, the motives of many participants in public nudity events ranging from protests to the World Naked Bike Ride.
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The Internet is a terrific font of information about naturism and the practice of social nudity, and often the range of this information includes simple depictions of the variety of human phenotypes, as in the photo above. Photos or videos that depict nude folks swimming, skiing, hiking, surfing, or simply reading a book can help others understand that they don’t need to, or shouldn’t have to, wear clothes to do these and so many other activities. Many viewers will be motivated to go nude! Perhaps the majority will not be able to act on their motivations, for whatever reason, but they will at least have been exposed to the benevolent exhibitionism of human possibilities, of tolerance, of body acceptance.
2 thoughts on “Benevolent Exhibitionism”
I agree with your assessment that natural scenes involving nudity will help change public mindsets – but not to a significant degree. That said, every little bit helps.
I continue to believe that nonchalant nudity (I think the term is Ton Dou's) depicted on the Internet can be an inspiration and a force for change for many. It's just to quantify HOW many, or in how many ways they can be inspired or influenced.