Photographer Spencer Tunick managed to pull off a photo shoot today at Zocalo Square in the heart of Mexico City with 18,000 nude volunteers–a record.Reuters reports this could be a sign Mexico’s historic prudishness may be on the wane. But always looking backward, the older generation and the church saw it as a “loss of dignity.”
“They’re losing dignity as men and women,” said 63-year-old Armando Pineda, leaning against the cathedral and watching the now-dressed models leave the plaza. “It’s an offense against the church.”
Funny, because what I see is people becoming less uncomfortable with themselves. I see people becoming more accepting of a wide range of body types as being worth looking at (instead of only finding “porn-star quality” nudes acceptable).
I see the bridging of generations who have lived in shame at seeing and being seen in their natural state. I see people celebrating their vulnerability and humanity. I see people who would rather make love than war. I see the absolute opposite of the insane killers who on April 7, 2007 publicly murdered Du’a Khalil Aswad, a 17-year-old Kurdish Iraqi girl, for having a boyfriend of the wrong religion. If you watch the horrid video of the murder, one of the killers covered up the girl’s writhing crotch and legs with a jacket (can’t have nudity at a stoning, you know), before he resumed kicking her in the face, and others dropped more chunks of concrete on her battered body. The contrast between these two events couldn’t be more striking.
Most of us would not want to disrobe in front of our friends, nor find it appropriate for nudity to become publicly acceptable. But imagine how much we would have to change as a society for this to become widely practiced. I would argue that in spite of the uncomfortability some might have, a world that accepted public nudity would be a better place.
In Mexico, here are some recent developments:
The capital of the world’s second-biggest Catholic nation, where tough-guy masculinity and family loyalty are held dear, has recently challenged some important traditions.
Last month, Mexico City legislators legalized abortion in defiance of criticism from church officials.
Also, gay couples are getting hitched in civil ceremonies thanks to recently passed laws in the capital, and lawmakers plan to debate whether to legalize euthanasia.
It may seem like a semantic coincidence, but I find it highly ironic: “Nudism” is sometimes called “Naturism.” And the most vocal opponents of nudity are those who believe in the supernatural.
It’s time to stop celebrating the imaginary and start celebrating ourselves. These volunteers and Tunick should be hailed as champions of the ultimate in human dignity.