Naked: the photo project
April 2, 2003 4:22 PM   Subscribe

Naked is a gallery of sixteen regular people in various stages of undress (using an innovate flash interface). It has extensive interviews with the participants, talking about how they feel about their bodies and being nude in general. It's about as far from being erotic as possible (and rightly so), instead aiming to get viewers thinking about how they confront their own body image issues and how they feel about nudity.
posted by mathowie (45 comments total)
You never go wrong blogging about nudity. ;-) But thanks, that's an astonishingly beautiful and innovative site.
posted by hairyeyeball at 4:26 PM on April 2, 2003

Before anyone gets all Beavis-and-Butthead, know that it's a striking and thought-provoking exhibit.

I've long wanted to do a similar project online. It's fascinating to think for a moment how a few millimeters of fabric are the only things that keep everyone reading this and around you from being naked. We were all born naked, and end up naked at one point everyday, but we (especially in America) act weird about it and can't talk about it. On the other hand, it's also worth mentioning that I'm far from being a nudist, and find most nudists to be strange people obsessed too much with the act of being nude. It's a tough balance to approach these issues apart from any eroticism, and I think this project did that pretty well.
posted by mathowie at 4:28 PM on April 2, 2003

Wow! Great site!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:46 PM on April 2, 2003

What a hoot!

1. When was the first time naked in front of someone?
..I don't remember. I know I was found naked under a porch stoop when I was three-ish.

2. When realized something wrong with nakedness?
..Gosh, I have no idea. I don't think I ever learned that naked was bad. Though at some point I must have learned to stay clothed in public!

3. First naked in public?
..Other than showers in grade 7, I guess it was at a local nude beach at about age twenty-seven. Provide "public" means "where there are plenty of naked people of both sexes."

4. Compare yourself to others?
..In grade 7, 'cause there were varying degrees of pubescence. I've looked at other's bodies and thought "nice body," but I don't think I've ever actually wanted to look anything but like myself.

5. Feelings about my body in the past?
..I was always conscience of being short, and even though I'm average height now, I feel short. Always felt my ears were too big! Never had an issue with my actual torso "body". It's just a handy sort of place to keep myself.

6. Feel about my body now?
..Oh, I'm beginning to see that I'm aging. My waist is getting thicker, my fitness drops off faster if I don't maintain it, my joints hurt more easily. And my ears still stick out too far, but now I don't much care! It's still a good body, though!

7. Hide or not hide your face?
..I don't know if I would or wouldn't hide my face in the Naked photos. I'd want the anonymity, just 'cause I don't think I really want everyone I know to know what I look like naked. Couldn't care less if the general mass public saw my face, though. I'd probably have to show my face, just to get over that hurdle.

I spend lots of time naked during the summer. It's too hot in this house and, besides, I just don't like clothing! I hike naked, swim naked, suntan naked, and wish like mad that the hot pools had nude nights. I frequently wish our culture wasn't so uptight about bodies, because when it's 35C outside, clothing just ain't right.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:54 PM on April 2, 2003

Wow ... cool site. I was more fascinated by the way the people behaved in the photos than the sound snippets; it was hard to concentrate on both. There's one lady who keeps looking at the camera and smiling; it's interesting.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:00 PM on April 2, 2003

Er, I showed y'all mine. Now show me yours! (answer the questions the site asks!)
posted by five fresh fish at 5:28 PM on April 2, 2003


You know, it really seems like the a lot of women seem way less attractive with their clothes off. I don't mean that nakedness is ugly, or whatever, but just that you notice so many more flaws. Like big thighes or little tits, or flab or whatnot.

Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on April 2, 2003

Go CBC! That's right people, that site is run by the broadcasting corporation of the Canadian government. Woo Hoo Canada!
posted by tiamat at 5:31 PM on April 2, 2003

Excellent find, mathowie - superb use of flash. I like that this is such an ordinary group of people and such an ordinary group of bodies. Much of the public nakedness we see is so damn idealized it can foster insecurity about appearance. And public nudity is often in such a sexual context - it's refreshing to see ordinary people. It is reassuring to me in the same way that the Jaime Lee Curtis getting real thing was.

I like that it just didn't show them nude, but disrobing - it was interesting (and ok, a bit voyeuristic too) to compare impressions clothed and unclothed.

Cool post, thanks.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:31 PM on April 2, 2003

Little tits are a flaw? How odd. I always thought humongous ones were...
posted by five fresh fish at 5:43 PM on April 2, 2003

delmoi, it's funny you say that because i've always felt quite the opposite--when i first saw other women naked, maybe around the time i was 16 or so, i was amazed at the degree of beauty naked versus clothed. it was kind of a shock to me, and for a while i was just so secretly amused that mass numbers of women walk around all the time seeming average when underneath they're uniquely exquisite. also, it made me feel really self-conscious; i didn't feel i fit that generalization (i still don't, really) and that made me feel inadequate or not in on this secret, this women's joke.

my sister, when i mentioned this to her about a year ago, offered that perhaps it's because most clothing these days seems made to emphasize and accentuate straight lines and angles (think modern urban hipster starkness, i guess) rather than bends and curves. hm. not sure if that holds any weight, but it's interesting.

and just as a general note, to mathowie: this project rules, both in idea and execution. and your comment about how funny it is that we never speak of these things yet they're present in everyone's daily lives was great too--as was your impression of nudists-in-general. ha.
posted by ifjuly at 5:43 PM on April 2, 2003

Sorry. Doesn't do it for me. I still prefer gorgeous bodies (women) and scant me what you will.
posted by Postroad at 5:48 PM on April 2, 2003

ifjuly: I take it you're a woman? Obviously, as a guy I don't get the opportunity to see women naked in person nearly as often as I would like, so really I'm only informed by porn.

I'm not saying small breasts are bad, but there are obviously good boobs and bad boobs. But when someone is dressed, you can only really get an idea of size not shape or anything else. I guess I misspoke up there. Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 6:02 PM on April 2, 2003

call me what you will.

we already do, man. don't worry

really interesting site, matt. I agree that the disrobing thing was done very tastefully and made the site interesting (sometimes the personal anecdotes aren't)

nice jamie lee curtis link. but I think she looked great even in the no-makeup shot. I mean, she's a over 40 mom, she is not supposed to look like a 15-year-old Icelandic model. more power to her for not being paranoid about her looks, she's a smart, secure woman. but I didn't get the "gets real" stuff -- as I said, she looks great anyway
posted by matteo at 6:06 PM on April 2, 2003

Sorry. Doesn't do it for me. I still prefer gorgeous bodies (women) and scant me what you will.
posted by Postroad at 5:48 PM PST on April 2

Doesn't do what for you? Missing the point again, Post.
posted by Espoo2 at 6:08 PM on April 2, 2003

I just looked at the pictures.
posted by corpse at 6:11 PM on April 2, 2003

I can't think of very many nekkid people I've seen that don't look okay. There are some morbidly obese and morbidly anorexic people that look obviously extremely unhealthy, but I can't say as they disgust me. (I'm horrified that anyone could do that to themselves, but that's different from disgust.)

There are some body shapes that I find very attractive, but I can't say that they're particularly arousing as such. Mere sighting isn't much of a turn-on for me. Sex needs participation, not mere seeing.

For me, most everyone falls into the "hey, it's a body" category. Unless they're tickling my fancy with their fingertips, it ain't a rush.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on April 2, 2003

Nudity rocks. Best thing about graduating to your own pad after years of house-sharing: you can finally walk around naked with impunity.

I've always said that a little covering (say, lingerie, or even better some simple yet sporty undies) is often sexier than nothing at all. At least to look at. For a bit. Yes, I'm a guy.

And the Jamie Lee Curtis "Getting Real" thing is interesting, seeing as how she might be a hermaphrodite.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:36 PM on April 2, 2003

Thanks for this post, mathowie... 'thought-provoking' defines it best.
posted by LinusMines at 6:59 PM on April 2, 2003

Mirror, father, mirror.

Mirror, father, mirror.

Mirror, father, mirror.
posted by askheaves at 7:04 PM on April 2, 2003

I'm not saying small breasts are bad, but there are obviously good boobs and bad boobs. -delmoi

Oh? What's your criterion for good boobs and bad boobs? I know what I like in a woman's body, but that is usually only my first look, the skindeep look. It's the deeper look at a person that is more important, and I try to get to that as soon as I can. Don't get me wrong, physical attraction is very important, but I think we place too much importance on the societal definitions of beauty and attraction. Too often we dismiss those who don't fit into the societal scale, not realizing that they may perhaps be sexier in the flesh than we give them credit for.

But anyway, I digress and comment without putting more thought into what I'm saying. Great link, matt. It's given me a lot to think about.
posted by ashbury at 7:21 PM on April 2, 2003

So how about some of you answering the site's seven questions?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:38 PM on April 2, 2003

It would take up way too much space if I even started, five fresh fish...they're good questions. And a really nice site. Though for some reason it made me think how important posture is. I wanted to tell some of those people to stand up straight!
posted by Badmichelle at 7:46 PM on April 2, 2003

1. When was the first time naked in front of someone?

Sis and I were fooling around, pulling each others undies down and laughing until we got caught and made to feel shame. Guess I was 4

2. When realized something wrong with nakedness?

see response to #1

3. First naked in public?

I avoided public nudity until well into my 20's and that was just because alot of people around me were doing it at a festival. Was still very bashful and kept it brief.

4. Compare yourself to others?

I avoid that, thinking I might not "measure" up!

5. Feelings about my body in the past?

Ultra-thin, non-muscular made me feel inadequate especially when around those jocks at school, but I filled out nicely later.

6. Feel about my body now?

Could stand to lose a few pounds, but I'm not ashamed of me. I still don't go around nude in public, but it hasn't come up either.

7. Hide or not hide your face?

Not sure why, but if I had been one of the sixteen used here, I'm pretty sure I would have no problem showing my face. Again though, it hasn't come up! :)

I liked the site because it was well done, but I'm not sure I liked thinking about all this in my own life and I only answerd the questions because the thre F's asked twice! :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 8:08 PM on April 2, 2003

five fresh fish, my answers are here if anyone actually cares to read them. mine took up too much space (as i'm a windbag...) to justify posting inthread.

thanks for sharing, by the way.
posted by ifjuly at 8:20 PM on April 2, 2003

Cool. Thx, LRS & ifjuly.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on April 2, 2003

Just a reminder to all that Jamie Lee Curtis used to be known as The Body. Although I applauded her decision to appear "unglammed" for the More magazine article, seriously, that wasn't much of a stretch for her, since she was still in shape and looked quite well for her age.
posted by Lynsey at 10:46 PM on April 2, 2003

Not a very diverse group, is it? What is it about white people and nudity? Has anyone ever seen a steaker who wasn't white? Aren't the vast majority of nudists white? Why is that?
posted by Poagao at 11:24 PM on April 2, 2003

Excellent site. If anything, it shows the multiple ways in which even the most attractive people disguise the truth of their naked forms. A bit like that conversation in Nicholson Baker's The Fermanta in which two men are talking about unclothing a woman stopped in time and the reality of women scrunching their fat into deposits and otherwise making every effort to look good, to create the illusion of a delectable naked individual with clothes on, is understood. (Like a face against a glass window is the way nipples are described.)

Thank you for the find, Mr. Haughey.
posted by ed at 12:04 AM on April 3, 2003

Like big thighes or little tits, or flab or whatnot.

I'm not saying small breasts are bad, but there are obviously good boobs and bad boobs.

This is exactly what leads to the proliferation of boob jobs delmoi. I know I know I have had that argument at mefi before. But I want you to know that I when I read that statement It caused that old feeling in the pit of my stomach that I have struggled with all my life. Thanks...Though in that previous thread I had numerous posters assure me that diminutive breast size does not make a woman less attractive. Believe me I try to accept that. Oh I got lots of retorts admonishing that natural breasts were best not matter what the size. Then someone makes an insensitive statement like a slap in the face...You eventually realized that it may have been hurtful, which is obvious due to your second response and attempt at soft pedalling your first statement. (which was weak at best) There it is as callous as that....small breasts are a physical flaw.

Do you not realize that women will endure the pain and risk of major surgery because they hear this kind of off handed remark day in and day out? I also notice that none of you guys who so vehemently protested against breast implants called him on it. If you guys want women to cease breast augmentation, then when one of your brothers makes a remark like that, then you should speak up and call him on it. Defend those beautiful small breasts you guys claim to love so much. Yet not one voice.

By the way delmoi would you care to discuss any shortcomings you may have? Check yourself.

Sorry to derail the thread but it had to be said.
posted by SweetIceT at 12:07 AM on April 3, 2003

Like I said when I started the thread, I wasn't really interested in the Beavis and Butthead types of comments, stuff like anything related to breast size or weight being good or bad.

If you look at everyone in the exhibit, there are probably only 2 or 3 people with "great" bodies, the rest are imperfect, but you know what? Almost everyone is imperfect looking -- if you want to focus on surface looks alone and compare what you see with media messages we're pummeled with our entire lives. Most of us have pockets of fat, saggy bottoms, and droopy breasts, but for most of us, someone close to us finds us beautiful, making this kind of stuff trivial.

This is kind of tangental, but the other day I realized I don't get pimples much anymore, but it was one of the biggest fears and central preoccupations of my teenaged years -- worrying that everyone would hate me for my latest zit. There were days I wanted to stay home from school due to breakouts. So I'm 30 now and realized I haven't worried about a zit in years, and the truth is I see teenaged kids with pimples all the time and I couldn't care less. I spent years of my life wasting energy worrying about something that really didn't matter to anyone.

I'm starting to see the same thing with body issues. While I spent my 20's wishing I looked like I was 19 again, and always thinking I'd be happier if I were 20 lbs lighter, it doesn't really matter in the big picture. The bottom line is that I want to stay in shape and be healthy, but I'm no longer worried about the size of my love handles or amount of cellulite in my ass anymore.
posted by mathowie at 12:27 AM on April 3, 2003

there is a lot of good stuff on the web.
posted by specialk420 at 12:31 AM on April 3, 2003

1. When was the first time naked in front of someone?
Just after I was born I guess. Really don't remember. Nakedness was never really a problem in my house, but I'm still occasionally embarassed by a photo of me naked on the beach aged 3.

2. When realized something wrong with nakedness?
There is? Public nudity is wrong cos it's illegal and there are too many immature people around. Ban clothes tomorrow and the world would be easier. This, however, from someone who's never been naked in public as an adult.

3. First naked in public?
See (1)

4. Compare yourself to others?
Overweight (ish). Depressed by my manboobs.

5. Feelings about my body in the past?
In the past, I was more overweight, and the weight I had wasn't controlled. At least now it looks like weight rather than flab. If you see what I mean.

6. Feel about my body now?

7. Hide or not hide your face?
For nude photos? Depends how many people around (part of a group I could cope with) and how warm it was in studio! ;)

posted by twine42 at 12:51 AM on April 3, 2003

This could've been a really excellent photo/audio exhibit, if everyone involved didn't seem so, I don't know, white.

Really excellent idea, but the photo subjects were all so typical, and middle-class...It would have been excellent to include a wider rage of ages, body types, heights, weights, races.

I'd be much more interested in hearing about how people who were large/small/poor/blind as children feel in regards to nudity, rather than a dozen thin white folk in nice clothes.
posted by Jairus at 1:41 AM on April 3, 2003

I loved this site. I doubt if there is a single person in the western world who doesn't have 'body image' issues. I was born in the 'wrong' era, having big boobs, a high ribcage which gives me a small waist, and big hips and thighs. I was made for the crinoline era, lol!

In the changing room at the gym I am reassured that my [perceived] imperfections are common and that the majority of women wobble, jiggle and sag. The ones with the 'perfect' bodies are usually very young and/or surgically enhanced.

As for Jamie Lee, I will never forget the gasp that went round the cinema when she took off her top in Trading Places. In the 80s, hers was the body I wished was mine, but, hey, it just isn't going to be and now I am in my 40s, I have learned to love myself. I have good health and vitality, peace and serenity, which are (imho) the keys to beauty because they mirror the soul.

As within, so without.
posted by essexjan at 3:18 AM on April 3, 2003

1. When was the first time naked in front of someone?
I remember playing "doctor" with some neighborhood girl when I was 6 or 7. But I don't remember her name! I do remember that she had very strict religious parents. Don't they all...

2. When realized something wrong with nakedness?
Just before puberty set in. I remember one of the older kids trying to take off some girl's bikini top at the pool. I thought it was funny, seeing them run around like that. But my Mom said that it was wrong. I didn't ask her why at the time.

3. First naked in public?
Probably the first time I skinny-dipped at a cast party in high school. It was fun!

4. Compare yourself to others?
That same cast party. I was kinda scrawny and not very tall then. I remember being amazed at the muscles on some of my friends! The girls looked amazing -- even the ones that I didn't even notice that much with their clothes on.

5. Feelings about my body in the past?
I was ashamed of my body for a long time, which doesn't help when you're an actor and you are asked to use your body in ways that normal people don't do.

6. Feel about my body now?
I love my body! I'm in play right now, "Love! Valour! Compassion!", and all 7 actors have to get naked onstage. I admit I was a bit nervous at first, but once rehearsals began I didn't give it a second thought. Now my friends and coworkers look at me differently -- that I had the "balls" to get naked in front of a paying audience and not be freaked out. On the contrary, I told them, it's one of the most liberating experiences I've ever had.

7. Hide or not hide your face?
Oh come on, now! If you're gonna bare all, bare all! I've noticed that people's faces do change when they get naked -- they get more relaxed and at ease. It's pretty amazing!
posted by tommyspoon at 4:09 AM on April 3, 2003

I'd be much more interested in hearing about how people who were large/small/poor/blind as children feel in regards to nudity, rather than a dozen thin white folk in nice clothes.

Well, I was a chubby kid and I'm a fat adult, and I have no problems with being naked. I don't have to look at me, after all. And as my girlfriend just pointed out to me, those who do get to look at me find me very attractive indeed. Of course, different people have different tastes, so I'm not saying that everyone must find me to be the hottest thing ever--just as I don't find everyone else to be the hottest things ever. I don't think anyone--no matter their size or shape--should be ashamed of their body.
posted by eilatan at 6:26 AM on April 3, 2003

SweetIceT - delmoi was expressing his own tastes, which are not shared by everyone on MeFi, but if we called each other on it every time someone did something like that we wouldn't have time to talk about much else. As for people's bodies, some people choose to change themselves permanently or simply dress a certain way to please someone else (or themselves). That's fine, and sometimes even nice, but I don't think there's any such thing as empirical attractiveness or sexiness and great efforts to achieve these are a waste of time. Breast implants and similar surgeries mainly make someone look "better" clothed. Naked they look like they've had surgery. Personally I've seen people of very different body types who I consider attractive; it's much more a matter of how comfortable they seem in their bodies than it is anything else.
posted by Songdog at 8:32 AM on April 3, 2003

Jairus, do check out Laurie Edison's photography, especially Women En Large and Familiar Men. Diversity and wonderful images.
posted by anitar at 8:44 AM on April 3, 2003

It isn't that delmoi expressed his taste in boobs, but the way he expressed it.

For those complaining that everyone on the naked site is white: hey, it was shot (I believe) in Edmonton. Everyone there is white!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:46 AM on April 3, 2003

Great links, specialk - thanks!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:19 AM on April 3, 2003

For those complaining that everyone on the naked site is white: hey, it was shot (I believe) in Edmonton. Everyone there is white!
posted by five fresh fish

How true, and those who aren't white are more likely to be asian than black, at least here in the west. It's one of the differences between Canada and the US. A larger majority of people are white(ish) and those of us who aren't don't tend to identify ourselves by where g'g'g'grandfather came from as a code for skin colour (I don't ask that people refer to me as a Meti, let alone get upset if they call me an indian or assume I'm white). Maybe once a year I hear a black person refered to as African-Canadian, usually as a joke on Americans. The fact that it is A-C not A-A shows up the double-speak. Those sit-coms where the entire cast is black (30-40-100 characters) always seem so bizarre until one gets a grip on the concept of foreign programming.
posted by Mitheral at 12:24 PM on April 3, 2003

Thanks FFF my point exactly.
posted by SweetIceT at 12:37 PM on April 3, 2003

fff and SweetIceT, your point is a good one. Judging from the spam I receive the concept of body inadequacy is a particularly virulent meme, and one that it's pretty thoughtless to feed. I was just trying to point out that attractiveness is not derived from body parts alone.
posted by Songdog at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2003

« Older Raytheon missile identified   |   Passive viral marketing? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments