We are a culture that covers skin — for fashion, for warmth, for modesty. We cover to display allegiance to a football team or our identification as a firefighter or doctor. And our sacred practices, these often involve adorning our bodies and our heads with symbolic and meaningful attire. Humans are the only known species to wield fire, to cook our food, to blush when embarrassed and yes, to cover our skin with clothing.
So when do we cast off the apparel and show a little skin? Here are some of the most popular reasons people bare just a bit more of themselves.
Do as the Kangaroos Do
Skin-to-skin contact between a parent and newborn child receives high praise within the medical community. Sometimes known as kangaroo care, the Cleveland Clinic states that, “skin-to-skin holding stabilizes heart and respiratory rates, improves oxygen saturation rates, better regulates an infant's body temperature, and conserves a baby's calories.” Mothers and fathers can both participate in this beneficial, snug routine.
What sells? Your Advertisers Know
Experiment: Next time you drive the highways or ride the subway, take 30 minutes and casually note how many signs and billboards you see with strategically clad men and women. Do you feel the pull of your peripheral vision to look? That’s certainly by design.
In a Psychology Today piece, Dr. Adrian Furnham notes that showing skin does a marvelous job at grabbing our attention. Citing experimental literature on the topic, Furnham also discussed how programs containing sexual or violent images “seemed to impair memory for the advertised products.” Conclusion: the blaring sirens of exposed skin do not necessarily translate into sales.
Nude Protesters Get More Exposure
Want to a make firm statement? That’s what 100 women had in mind when they gathered for a political protest rally in Cleveland, Ohio this past July. Each of them nude and holding a mirror, they wanted to reflect “the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women on to the convention center, cityscape and horizon.” Since public nudity is illegal in Ohio, they were ready with coverings in the wings, but made their impression far more pronounced with a full display of skin.
Sunbathing in Paradise
Sun worshippers will always be among us. No place gathers more exposed skin than the countless beaches lining the ocean fronts, lakes, rivers and gulfs of America. But we rarely give skin completely over to the sun’s glare. We still cover up in the form of lotions, sprays and oils, each offering that all-important Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
Travel internationally to destinations like Panama’s Playa de las Suecas or Croatia’s Valalta Beach and you can expose as much skin as you’d like. Though sunscreen should still be considered a mandatory covering.
Please Get Undressed and the Doctor Will Be Right In
From a health perspective, the most important reason for disrobing and showing skin will be for your own wellbeing. If you overindulged your intake of solar rays, it may be time for a skin check up. You should consider a trip to the dermatologist critical if you see any of these signs:
- Changes in the color, shape or size of a mole
- A sore that won’t heal
- Itching or sore skin that won’t go away
- A new spot, especially a dark one, that appears on the skin
- A particularly bad sunburn, or multiple sunburns in one year
Playing Shirts and Skins
The original alternative to wearing a team jersey? Just take off the jersey. Though seemingly at a disadvantage in cold or inclement weather, men’s teams going topless still pop up on public basketball courts and soccer fields around the world.
Indulge With Massage
Human touch on skin can deliver therapeutic relief for injuries and strains, release from anxiety or headaches and a deep sense of relaxation. The aromatherapy and essential oils markets have exploded over the past few decades. Popular products like lavender lotions and tea tree oils are engineered and bottled to fight off acne-causing bacteria and offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Disrobing and treating yourself and your skin to a massage, even annually, can offer a profound feeling of personal reset.
What feeling is that Marvin Gaye?
Human reproduction has proven this very consistent and historic reality – all of us are born naked. Though the sexual act can now be replaced with methods like in vitro fertilization (IVF), I think it’s safe to say that copulation sans clothing can be counted on as a favored exercise for the considerable future.