Naked and Unafraid: A Reading List About Nudity

Here are five stories about the sociopolitics of stripping down.

1. “Babes at the Museum.” (Kyle Chayka, Adult Magazine, December 2014)

Kyle Chayka took his first figure drawing class at age 12. He discusses intention versus interpretation and nakedness versus nudity in this thought-provoking essay about figure drawing.

But as long as you approach it with the right mentality there’s no wrong way to go about figure drawing. Replicating the infinitely complicated human form might get easier over time, but it’s never perfect. What matters are the qualities you bring to the drawing, the artificial work of art that comes from the physical body as it exists in the world. In a way, the artist brings a lie to the fact.

2. “The Naked Man.” (Michael Thomsen, Guernica, September 2013)

Michael Thomsen participated in a nude photoshoot to accompany his essay collection, meditating on the absurdity of sitting naked in a cake, sexting and stigma.

3. “Taking It All Off: Black Women, Nudity, and the Politics of Touch.” (Crunk Feminist Collective, May 2012)

What I long for, for myself, and for all who need it is touch that is not facilitated by capitalism. Touch that, in its demand for our vulnerability, our giving of our whole selves, does not exact from us psychic violence. Touch that is healing, and intimate, and loving, without the necessity of being sexual. And yet, access to safe, healthy sexual touch, when we want it.

4. “When a Magazine Only Wants You If You’re Willing to Pose Nude.” (Caitlin Stasey, Jezebel, July 2015)

Actress Caitlin Stasey founded Herself.com, a website devoted to portraying women in the nude on their own terms. Stasey’s project is powerful and empowering—these women are all ages, ethnically and racially diverse, from different economic backgrounds and communities. When an Australian publication refused to publish an interview with Stasey unless she posed in the nude, she took a stand and made their correspondences—and the magazine’s hypocrisy—public.

5. “Have I Got Nudes for You: Emer O’Toole on the Art of Being Naked.” (Emer O’Toole, The Guardian, January 2016)

Emer O’Toole, professor and columnist, writes about being painted in the nude by Camilla Cannon (featuring her thick armpit hair!)