Monday, January 14, 2013

The Birthday Project

As a Capricorn, I've been thinking about birthdays recently, and as a nudist, I can't help but make the connection implied by the term "birthday suit". It just seems to me a perfect opportunity to integrate nudism into the lifestyle of our mainstream culture. We are born nude, it only makes sense that birthday parties should be celebrated either wholly nude, as a nudist party, or at the very least, it should be expected that the birthday honoree attends the party naked - that is, in his/her birthday suit!

Obviously this wouldn't fly with our neurotic fear and deeply rooted shame surrounding nudity, and our obsession with body privacy. But in a more relaxed culture it would be perfect. We ought to celebrate our birthdays dressed in the garb in which we were born! The real shame is that so many people in today's modern Western culture would view it as a punishment to either have to attend their own birthday party nude, or to have to look at somebody else's naked body on their birthday, when it should be a precious opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of nudism.

I came upon a related idea while musing on the birthday suit that I think might be considerably more palatable to a mainstream audience than nudist birthday parties. And it ties in to my interest in photography. It seems to me that a lot more people than you might think can appreciate the artistic value of a nude portrait - even people who are not considered traditionally attractive. You might even go so far as to say that it is empowering to have oneself photographed in the nude, provided it's nonsexual (that's another issue entirely) and done by a professional, respected photographer.

Well, it occurs to me that it would be fascinating to mark the changes in one's body as s/he grows through the years. And would it not be interesting to have such a document of one's growth? I think it makes perfect sense for those who are interested in such things to have a nude full-body portrait taken every year on their birthday. It could be a great and exciting tradition if integrated into mainstream culture. Every portrait studio that specializes in those dull, repetitive 'senior portraits' could offer a new service - birthday portraits!

And it seems obvious to me that the most interesting years to document would be the ones in which the human body grows the most drastically - that is, the period from infancy to adulthood. Persons who are not committed to sticking with the practice their full lives could at least retain a document of their growth to adulthood. No doubt, anything involving nude portraits of children would raise no end of controversy, but I find it truly disheartening that we restrict such a unique subset of beauty from being depicted because of fears of elusive perverts.

At any rate, parents' consent would be obtained, the individual's privacy would be taken seriously, and the document could remain entirely personal if it is the subject's desire (I regret not having such a document of myself). Alternatively, if so inspired, they could share it with friends or family. And the practice, itself, I think, would go a long way in dispelling this unfortunate taboo we have on nudity in this culture, restoring it to a deserving position of wholesomeness, wonder, and respect.

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