Nudity Misunderstood

Soon after I mentioned Brazilian g-strings in the first column I wrote for the Hurricane, George, a friend of mine, requested that I fill him on what they are all about. I promptly and gladly obliged, happy to diffuse information about that one tiny piece of clothing that graces our beautiful beaches and of which we Brazilians are very proud.

It had been a while since I last talked about nudity and sensuality without being too careful about it, afraid of offending someone and labeled a jerk, especially by the female student body. American society seems to be too attached to keeping high moral standards, or at least pretending it does so.

Take Howard Stern. May the first person that never ever watched him on E! throw the first stone. Stern and his co-hosts talk openly (and bluntly) about the human body – the way it should be – and the audience thoroughly enjoys it. But when it comes to showing a nude person, this country’s false puritanical standards kick in and we see the good old blur on the person’s “private parts.”

I have studied the FCC rulings and its many cases on obscenity throughout the history of this country, and they still make no sense. How come the media are allowed to talk about naked bodies but not allowed to show them?

Granted, nude bodies should not be aired early in the morning or mid-afternoon. But late at night, when kids are sleeping (or supposed to be sleeping), adults should be able to hear, do or see whatever they desire – without having to pay a premium for it.

This country’s false puritanism objectifies the human body. It breeds the idolatry of plastic icons such as Britney and Christina instead of the appreciation of our nakedness. Who can forget when Jennifer Aniston graced the cover of Rolling Stone with a white sheet barely covering her body? Or the 1991 Vanity Fair cover of a nude and very pregnant Demi Moore? Such examples of artistic photography should always be cherished, not criticized, for they show how beautiful a person can be, blond, brunette, skinny or pregnant.

Before I came to this country, my image of cheerleaders was the same as anyone’s who grew up watching teenage movies from the 1980s: blond, stupid bombshells, with really great bodies and really bad attitudes. Fortunately, my image of them changed completely in the last three years.

I have a friend, Ashley, who’s one of the cheerleaders for the Hurricanes. From her I learned that cheerleading is more than a beautiful face and great smile, or jumping as you wish. It requires great time-management skills, self-discipline, a lot of will power and brain cells. And she’s as nice as people could be.

I’d love to be able to walk shirtless, wearing nothing but shorts anytime I go out of home. I used to do that back in Rio de Janeiro and haven’t done so since arriving here, just because I feel uncomfortable; not because of me, but because of how others will feel. It’s been three years since I last wore shorts to go to class because it doesn’t fit the image of a “respectable graduate student,” whatever that means.

Let us be able to look at a person on both sides, on the inside and also on the outside. People should not be ashamed to show their physical beauty – of any kind – and we shouldn’t be ashamed of acknowledging how beautiful they are.

I hope to see the day when people here can show off their beauty however they want and whenever they want. In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until the winter break, when I’ll be walking around shirtless, soaking up sun – and G strings – at Ipanema’s beach.

Daniel Paskin is a doctoral student in the School of International Studies.