Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Minority Interests: Abnormality?

Society encourages conformity. As a social species, it is in our programming to relate to one another. But diversity is also important, and we should not be quick to judge those who are different as being necessarily "damaged" in some way. I've been "unique" all my life, and had a hard time fitting in, and I'll be the first to say that being "different" is difficult. But there are also advantages, because I think people with different perspectives on the world are an invaluable asset to society.

When I think about my interest in nudism (just to pick one example), I have to question whether it's "normal". Statistically, having an active interest in nudism is rare. However, that interest, to me, feels quite "natural". Is it healthy? I think so, absolutely. And yet, I can't deny the fact that I have an overwhelming interest in being nude, one that sets me apart from the average person. Even among some nudists, I think - the less enthusiastic ones, who were maybe brought into the lifestyle by someone else's fervor, and accepted it as being not unpleasant, or even mildly desirable - still may not be quite as excited about it as I am.

There's a lot to be said for social conditioning, and modern customs. These days, nudity seems to draw a lot of attention, not all of which is positive. Though people may admit that nudity itself can be "natural" (most people don't shower with their clothes on, for example), there's some silly idea going around that you're not supposed to see other people naked, or let other people see you naked, except for specific exceptions. But imagine a world where we didn't have that hangup.

Think about it, most people wouldn't wear pajamas to school (on the other hand, some do, on occasion - and get away with it), and you don't get to see most people you encounter in life in pajamas. And yet, when the situation arises - say, a sleepover with friends, or visiting somebody's house in the morning, or on a trip with someone - and you get to see a person in pajamas, it may be, at most, a little bit awkward for one or both parties, but it's really not a big deal.

And few people in their right minds would wear a swimsuit to a business meeting, because it's just not appropriate according to the rules of business meetings, but do you see anyone (again: in their right mind) complaining about all the exposed flesh at the beach or local swimming pool? So how come, of all outfits, the birthday suit gets so much flak? There may be some facilities with communal showering where people (of the same sex only, you'll note) are more or less comfortable showering naked in front of others, but even that seems to be rare these days.

Imagine a world where we all grew up swimming nude and sleeping nude, and learned that nudity is just another form of casual dress. It doesn't necessarily mean you'd have naked people serving you lunch, or that you'd find yourself crammed into an elevator with several large, naked men (or any other naked nightmares you might conjure up). But if somebody was out on a warm day enjoying the weather naked, nobody would bat an eyelash; and if you rang someone's door and they answered it naked, it wouldn't be a big deal. Much of it is dependent on social programming.

And yet, my interest in nudity goes beyond the practical advantages of it. It tickles a part of my soul. It touches me on a profound level. It has meaning for me. So I might push harder and farther than most people would, even in a more nudity-tolerant society. And that makes me different. That makes me stand out. But it doesn't mean there's anything "wrong" with me. I wish more people, when they come across something they're not familiar with, would take the time to say, "hey, that's interesting", instead of so quickly writing it off as weird and dangerous and "ew, make it stop."

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