December 28, 2001

A dear friend of mine recently made a profound statement... You can never truly hate someone that you have seen naked, or sleeping.

I found this very intriguing. Of course my warped sense of humor took the line, and added 'or both'. But then I took it one step further and figured that there are a lot of people I wouldn't want to see naked, including myself.

When you think about it, when one is sleeping, they are wearing no masks. They have no pretenses, no anything. They show no concerns about how they look. They have no worries about what will happen tomorrow, how they'll feel. They are just blank and innocent.

The TV series Babylon 5 had one episode where the character, Delenn was following the custom of her people (the Minbari) and watching her lover sleep. This was because watching him sleep, she could see him at his most innocent. This is the real person, before we wake up and put we 'faces' on.

Looking at the other part of the statement, what do we see when we look at someone that is naked? This of course references things in a non-sexual manner. Having taken drawing classes a few years ago, I know what its like to look at nude models, and try to draw them. Part of me wonders how they can do that, to stand up there wearing nothing. The other part understands. As an art student, there is no sex, no judgment, no concern other than producing an image that looks something like the subject that is modeling for you. No one is thinking that the model is too fat, or too skinny, or too ugly. All concerns are on recreating what is seen onto paper, or canvas, or whatever medium.

When we wear clothes, we do so for a few reasons. The main one is protection, protection from the elements, wildlife, accidents. We also wear clothes for modesty. Most people aren't secure enough about their physical form to want to walk around letting everyone see it. (I believe it was Mark Twain or said that man is the only animal that blushes... or needs to.)

Back in olden days (and, unfortunately, occasionally still today), when someone was tortured, the first thing that happened was that their clothes were removed. Since the clothing is our first line of protection and modesty, it is a very unnerving thing. It takes someone and makes them completely vulnerable.

If someone is willing to stand naked before you and invite our judgment and criticism, they are truly brave. They are willing to appear in their most vulnerable way. The question is, what do you do? Do you judge them? Is it your right to judge them? Do you criticize them? Would you be able to withstand criticism? Or do you look, and accept, and maybe understand?

Think about it. The statement as a whole makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?