Saturday, 7 March 2009
On March 3rd, the BBC show Horizon aired an episode titled "What's the Problem with Nudity?"
The show is very interesting. It takes 8 volunteers who have never been nude in public and subjects them to a variety of experiments involving nudity to measure their reactions. What is great is that the networks makes no attempt to hide anything. All parts of the body are shown. I wonder if the CBC would be as tolerant.
The show also explores why we are the only "nude" mammal. They try to answer why humans lost their fur and when. Apparently being nude has given us a tremendous evolutionary advantage. They also theorize on why we kept hair in a few areas. They report on a study which, by analyzing Lice, estimates when we lost our fur and when we began wearing clothing. Another segment talks about how we determine the gender of other people without necessarily looking at genitals.
There are some inconsistencies in the documentary. For example they try to explain the shame that humans feel when nude by saying that "all humans are sensitive to sexual modesty" even in cultures where nudity is normal. They never quite explain what this "sexual modesty" but they accept that, in some cultures, nudity is normal and accepted. In this segment, Prof. Dan Fessler, an evolutionary psychologist at UCLA, seems to believe that shame at being nude (sexual modesty) is an innate characteristic developed naturally through evolution. He believes that we developed body shame in order to reinforce monogamy.
Yet in the end, the volunteers are so comfortable with nudity that the organizers actually sound surprised by how quickly and easily 8 strangers became comfortable being nude together. The narrator remarks that "despite the potential for embarrassment, our subjects seem to be enjoying themselves."
In the final nude wine & cheese reception, the volunteers appear almost as comfortable with each other (after only 48 hours) as long-time naturists. In the end, the moderator concludes that "we're not born with sexual modesty" and adds that "so long as everyone agrees we can create new rules and avoid the risk of offense just like in a nudist camp."
The episode website:
A write-up about the show:
The show can't be viewed online through the BBC. It is restricted to UK residents only. However, I found it on another website:
Labels: BBC Horizon nudity experiment