One of the great liberal and liberating messages of our time is that we should not be judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Thanks to social revolutions of many types, we can add sex and sexual orientation to the list of what not to be judged by. Naturism, in harmony with these fundamental assertions, offers the great liberal and liberating message that all bodies are good–all phenotypes are good–and that we should celebrate body acceptance and body freedom in health, diet, exercise, and respect for nature.
You can’t choose your biological parents, which means you can’t choose your genotype or phenotype either (although it’s true that some phenotypical aspects can be changed through exercise, surgical procedure, etc.). I happen to have the phenotype of a male with northern European ancestors. But I also happen to have had dreams in which that phenotype is changed.
I used to have a recurring dream that my phenotype was African. Everything else was the same–nobody else in the dream had changed appearance, and even though I looked other than I do in “real life,” no one in the dream reacted to that fact, and everything else about me was the same. Pretty boring dream, really, except that I would wake up and only then realize, somehow (a dream scene with a mirror? I don’t remember), that my appearance in the dream had been black.
Then there was the one time years ago that I dreamed I was a woman. It was similar to the earlier recurring dream in the sense that everybody else appeared unchanged, and my personality or general life circumstances had not changed. Other than having the secondary sex characteristics of a female, nothing else about my appearance had changed (skin color, height, hair color) – except my hair was longer. And once again I only realized in waking up that I had dreamed myself to be me, and yet physically other.
|Julian Baker, “Inflate,” Skintone Series (www.julianbaker.com)
I don’t quite know what to make of these dreams, but I like their inclusiveness, and I like that in neither case did the phenotypical transformation reflect any kind of change in the essence of who I am or who I was in the dream. Similar dreams, I suppose, could include imagining yourself to have a very different weight or age or physical condition. As a naturist, I cherish the way that naturism and/or social nudism allows for a greater appreciation of humanity’s range of phenotypes – and not just skin color or biological sex, but also the full range of body types, ages, and all manners of corporeal detail and condition. In fact, I think this is one of naturism’s great benefits – the benevolent exhibitionism of us all, that we may best recognize ourselves in our others, even as we marvel at the biological diversity of human variety.