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Vulnerability vs. Embarassment - Which is it??

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  • Vulnerability vs. Embarassment - Which is it??

    Hi All,

    It seems to me that the reason why there are only a fraction of people trying/practicing nudism is that they feel they would be 'vulnerable' without clothes - ie. open to ridicule, open to very personal judgement, etc. rather than out and out 'embarassment' at being seen in the nude.

    I guess people like a 'comfort zone' where they are accepted,liked etc. and going nude seems like it will be doing something that will challenge that comfort zone - people don't like that in the main, so don't contemplate even trying it.

    Just an observation from seeing the way my wife reacts to the idea of social nudity.

    But are the two the same?? I'm not so sure....

    Max

  • #2
    Hi All,

    It seems to me that the reason why there are only a fraction of people trying/practicing nudism is that they feel they would be 'vulnerable' without clothes - ie. open to ridicule, open to very personal judgement, etc. rather than out and out 'embarassment' at being seen in the nude.

    I guess people like a 'comfort zone' where they are accepted,liked etc. and going nude seems like it will be doing something that will challenge that comfort zone - people don't like that in the main, so don't contemplate even trying it.

    Just an observation from seeing the way my wife reacts to the idea of social nudity.

    But are the two the same?? I'm not so sure....

    Max

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    • #3
      I have no facts or statistics to back this up so I would appreciate no one telling me I'm wrong since I don't claim to be right: I would say it's about 60-40, with vulnerability being 60. I think women feel particularly vulnerable when they're nude. A man feels more in control since we can ward off any unwanted advances more easily than women can.

      Of course, there is always embarrassment at being seen nude by others for the first time. I believe that vulnerability is the main reason why single men are often rejected, or at least suspect. Of course, if anyone ever did a study of men who attack or at least sexually harrass women, I'd be willing bet that the number of married men among them would be very high. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]

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      • #4
        Max

        Hmm! Interesting question.

        I tried to think of a way of describing 'embarrassment' and I think it could be described as a feeling of self-consciousness caused when we are forced by others to confront some inner anxiety.

        In the context of nudity there are those who feel no embarrassment at nudity per se, but their inner anxiety is that people will think them weird (or whatever). This can be illustrated by the problem some people have about not going to a nudist beach in case they meet anyone they know. In other words they don't care what strangers think but do care what their aquaintances think.

        Then there are those who seem to suffer from an anxiety about their own nudity which does, I think, stem from vulnerability. My wife (and yours too I guess) is more than happy to accompany me to nudist beaches but would find it very difficult to take that final step to be completely nude because it's the nudity which causes the feeling of vulnerability. The anxiety is that other people will invade her personal space merely by looking at her.

        Then of course there are those whose anxiety is based on other people's nudity but, as we have discovered on other threads, it's very difficult to get a real understanding of this. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

        I think you're absolutely right when you say "people like a 'comfort zone' .. and going nude seems like it will be doing something that will challenge that comfort zone - people don't like that in the main, so don't contemplate even trying it." What often happens when people challenge their comfort zone, or have their comfort zone challenged (in all aspects of their lives, not just nudity), is that they then find they have a new and broader comfort zone. For many people the constant broadening of their comfort zone gives them a feeling of personal growth and achievement.

        Rik

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        • #5
          Rik,

          You're right about the fear of aquaintances thinking we're weird. I don't care who sees me nude, but I DO care what certain people think about me as a person. Maybe I shouldn't feel that way, but I do. However, I'm gradually getting to the point where I won't care what ANYONE thinks. I'm almost there. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]

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          • #6
            I've always thought that the main drawback to naturism is best described as being caused by 'shame'. We are brought up to believe that it is wrong to be naked and that we should always be covered up. While this may not extend to being covered head to toe the extreme emphasis on the genitals makes it all the more difficult to overcome the fear of being naked in later life.

            Increasingly gyms have shower cublicles - that are even possible to get dried in so we encounter very little communal nudity. I have even seen some men putting on their underwear under their towels ! Unless they had some strange physical deformity I don't see how they could be embarassed by being naked, nor do I see how nudity for a couple of minutes could leave them vulnerable - given that most people are relaxed enough about being seen naked briefly, even if they would perhaps wear a small in the sauna.

            Of course that leads to the question that if you are going to be seen naked while getting dressed, why not have communal showers, why not sit naked in the steam room ?

            I do think that if people, even ones with 'good' bodies had less negative feelings about their bodies it would be far easier for them to be naked around others.

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            • #7
              It just struck me. How many people do not frequent health clubs because of embarrassment?

              Could they be missing an opportunity to improve their physical condition, because they are afraid to be seen naked in the shower?

              Could this be one reason for the expanding American waistline?

              Something to ponder.

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              • #8
                I think another thing to think about is the of body views of the american society. While over the years we may have become more "liberal" with what is shown in the media, this may have an opposite affect on people. Our levels of body conciousness are forced to increase if we compare ourselves to what we see and are shown. What is and isn't beauty is spoon fed to us. If one does not look like what they are supposed too, then they can feel inferior. The shame of ones own body, I feel, could be a direct result of the way one views their body. And how we view our bodies is, unfortunately, often dictated by the media.

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                • #9
                  Over the years, seems like the philosophy of being nude in the locker room, is beginning to go away. As stated, there are now cubicles to change in, men and women wearing underwear under towels while in the shower room. When I was a kid, washing up after a hard workout was common. There was no such thing of being afraid to be naked in front of your buddies. While in high school, it was mandatory to take a shower before going to your next class. There were some classmates who were shy, but they did take showers. Sure, I have seen many erections, but they were not sexually caused. Myself, for one, have had many erections while in grade school, but I had to get clean, especially after a hard workout in P.E. class. Was I embarassed? Not really, but I didn't want to "stink" the rest of the day.

                  Same thing went on during my military service. Being naked in front of other men was common. It all started when I enlisted. I had to go to recruiting station for the enlistment physical. It was there when I experienced being literally naked in front of others. Unlike high school, when being nude meant just to take showers, we were told to undress. So there I was, in front of about thirty other males, standing and communicating in the nude. The only time I really got embarassed was during the "coughing" part of the physical. Once enlisted, my tour started. During that time, open showers and restrooms were the norm. We had to literally take showers and use the latrine (U.S. Army term), in front of others. After a while, being nude in front of other males was just another thing. I guess you can say, this was the beginning of my wanting to be a nudist, since I already had the experience.

                  During high school and being in the service, I learned that being nude was really no big deal. I really didn't feel vulnerable, except for the physical. Embarassment quickly eroded after I saw that I had nothing to be ashamed of. I have had a lot of exposure to seeing other males, and I quickly learned, we are not all created equal, but we all have the same features. Sure, I had my hang up of being a little "short", but eventually, after seeing that there were others in the same boat, that fear went away.

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                  • #10
                    I was also one of those youngsters totally terrified of the locker room experience. For me it started in 6th grade, which was the first year we had to change clothes for gym. I was skinny and totally unatheletic. I was teased a lot by my peers and I thought this level of "exposure" just gave them more ammunition. I dressed very slowly so most of the guys were done and gone before I hit the shower.

                    I carried this burden through most of my first year of college. I took showers at odd hours so I would have the shower (tile room with 3 shower heads) to myself.

                    My breakthrough point is kind of ironic. One early morning a couple of drunk women came in to use the bathroom. I had just turned off the water and could not get to my towel without being seen. So I just froze in place, hoping they would not know I was there.

                    Sure, I was just as terrified as ever during the event, but afterwards, I started thinking about how irrational my fears were. What was the worst possible thing that could have happened? They were the ones breaking several rules by being in the male dorm outside visitation hours. Besides, everyone else on the floor used the shower for the same purpose I did -- to get clean. So what if a few normally covered parts were exposed in the process!

                    That experience did not directly lead to nudism, but it opened the door of overcoming all the hang-ups that held me captive. Now that I look back on it, being ashamed of my body is the same as being ashamed of me. Now that I am comfortable with the whole image I see in the mirror, I don't care what others might think. It is more likely that they are too focused on what others think of them to care about me.

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                    • #11
                      Hmm- the relation between nudism and body image?
                      I agree- we are a f'ed up society in so many ways. It's okay to have a nude person in a music video, or in an ad to sell something. But it is not okay to have that same person at a beach nude or chilling out in their own home nude. All of a sudden, it's bad, mmmkay?

                      And the current crop of shows like "Are you hot?" are doing nothing to help this. I can't imagine anything more degrading than standing in a bikini onstage, on national TV, having some guy pick me over for flaws, like he was checking out fruit in a supermarket. I have only seen the commercials for this show, and the last few minutes of one episode while I was waiting for something else to come on, and that was enough. It seems that the only body types acceptable are super thin perfectly toned, and polished off with a few pounds of makeup and such.
                      Whatever.
                      All of this crap does nothing for us. It does nothing to help us accept our bodies as normal and good. Oh wait. It's harder to sell stuff to somebody who likes the way they look. Better to make us all feel like crap about the bodies we have so that we will spend huge amounts of money on diet pills and cosmetics.
                      With all of this stuff being fed to us, it's no wonder people, including myself are emabarrassed and ashamed of their own bodies.

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