New research finds that communal nudity can help people appreciate their bodies.
Nudism (also known as naturism) is a practice—and sometimes a lifestyle—that centers around non-sexual public nudity. As someone who grew up in the United States, I learned very early on in my life that this was taboo. Whenever nudism was discussed or portrayed in the media, it was always the butt of the joke (pun intended). The impression I got was that no “normal” person would ever do this and that just being naked in front of other people is wrong, pathological, and perverted.
However, research tells us that getting naked with strangers in a safe setting probably isn’t harmful. In fact, contrary to all of the negative assumptions and stereotypes about nudism, there just might be some benefits to it.
In a recent article published in the Journal of Sex Research, researchers sought to understand how nude socialization is linked to people’s body image. Could spending time naked improve how people feel about their appearance or help them to appreciate their bodies more?
This paper presents the results of the first-ever randomized controlled trial of communal nudity. Specifically, 27 men and 24 women were recruited in London for an experiment in which they would “hang out” with others and, if desired, drink wine.
Participants were randomly divided into two groups. In the control condition, participants were told that “all you have to do is enjoy yourself in the company of the other participants.” In the naked (experimental) condition, participants were told to “(1) enjoy yourself in the company of the other participants and (2) do so naked. All participants are expected to disrobe for this part of the experiment.”
Note that this study was approved by a university ethics committee, the possibility of nudity was mentioned on the informed consent document, and participants were repeatedly told that they had the option of withdrawing at any time. In other words, people freely chose to take part in this study and they didn’t have to do anything they weren’t comfortable doing.
Participants in both conditions were further instructed to create a safe space by treating everyone else with “dignity and respect at all times” and they were told that offensive, inappropriate, and harassing behavior would not be tolerated.
After the study, participants completed a survey that included a measure of body appreciation. Participants had also completed a body appreciation survey before the socialization activity so that researchers could test for a potential change in responses.
Source: Psychology Today
Original publication 3 February, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 16th February 2021
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