Is nudity a taboo subject?
by James Downes in Media Lab
Mon September 10, 5:02 p.m. BST
Nudity has been a topical issue of late in the press, with two photographs of Prince Harry causing controversy, alongside the repeated convictions of the naked rambler Stephen Gough.
We asked Labs participants whether they thought nudity was a taboo subject in the United Kingdom and the general perception of participants towards their own and other people’s nudity:
Nudity as a Taboo Subject:
- Most Labs participants said that nudity was a taboo subject. Labs participants who argued this viewpoint gave a range of views, with some participants remarking that nudity was a subject that ashamed the vast majority of people in Britain.
- Nonetheless, other participants stated most people tend to ignore the topic; due to its embarrassing nature and that the general public in the United Kingdom should hold more liberal views on the topic, like our European counterparts do.
- In a similar manner, a small section of participants noted the conservative, austere, and restrained nature of British culture as a reason for nudity being a taboo subject. These participants’ general perception was that many people in the United Kingdom equate nudity with sex, another reason why it is generally frowned upon in British society today.
- On the other hand, a minority of Labs participants said that nudity is becoming less of a taboo subject and more acceptable to the younger generations, through the exposure of the media, which has made people more tolerant of nudity as a whole.
Participants who were more comfortable with Nudity:
- In contrast to the findings on the taboo nature of nudity, Labs participants tended to be far more comfortable with their own nudity than not comfortable in their naked skin. Participants in this group noted how nudity was liberating for the individual and that it can make people more positive about themselves.
- Similarly, the vast majority of Labs participants said that they were comfortable with other people’s nudity, for instance in changing rooms, on the beach, or on TV, so long as it did not affect them directly.
- It appears that on the one side of the coin, that although Labs participants’ perceived nudity as a taboo subject, on the other side of the coin they were more open about both their own nudity and the nudity of others.
- On the whole, the majority of Labs participants also said that they had become more comfortable with their own and other people’s nudity as they had got older. Explanations ranged from becoming more tolerant, mature, and less judgmental of the behaviour of others.
Participants who were less comfortable with Nudity:
- Participants in this group were not comfortable with their own nudity, as they saw their own bodies in a negative light. Moreover, participants in this group tended to be embarrassed of their body size or shape and this was why they felt uncomfortable with both their own nudity and other people’s nudity.
- A minority of participants said that they were not comfortable with other people’s nudity, seeing it largely as a new phenomenon. These participants were primarily concerned with nudity undermining the moral fabric of society and also equated nudity with a decline in the moral standards of society.
- Those participants who were less comfortable with nudity as they became older were in the minority, with more people saying that their attitudes had stayed the same and had not changed as they had become older.
Here's what our poll participants had to say...
Viewpoint 1- Nudity as a Taboo subject
Viewpoint 2 - Participants who were more comfortable with Nudity
Viewpoint 3 - Participants who were less comfortable with Nudity