There is an extensive photo gallery on Tumblr called happy nudists. I viewed the many, many photos it contains—twice now—and as a photographer myself I did my best to pay close attention to them and the details they contain. Oh, yes, they contain many wonderful details.
One thing they contain is a lot of smiling. There is even some jumping for joy in those photos.
I could not help but contrast their enjoyment of nudity with the attitudes my close friends have about it, and about the human body in general. Most of the people in my circle deem the body as fundamentally inappropriate. The body is deemed to be an affront to propriety and decency. Being seen nude would be a dire compromise to these values. We would be deemed irresponsible.
What a burden those values are. We live in Facebook land in terms of self-consciousness and guilt. I was drawn to the contrast between the values I live and the values of the happy nudists.
In addition to the Tumblr content there are links to many blogs that provide the source material. I visited a few of them and found them brimming with enthusiasm and optimism about the pleasures about the human experience. I will repeat that phrase: the pleasures of the human experience.
The four ladies in the photo that accompanies this post are nude. I met two of them the day of the photograph. They displayed themselves, of course, but more than that they displayed a beautiful kindness and affection for each other. The fact that they trusted me struck me as an expression of kindness too.
As a society we are essentially numbed out about something as basic as being comfortable in our own skin. We read in the news every day about people venting their frustrations in violent ways. We demand that people restrain their enthusiasm even when that enthusiasm can be richly rewarding.
I welcome your thoughts.