Naked & Nude: What's the difference eh?

Naked & Nude: What's the difference eh?

Tara Parmar gets down to it as she opens up the conversation around Nude vs Naked. She talks nip slips, Biblical Eve and bare, bare bodies.

I don’t know what makes us all awkward and squirmy when it comes to the idea of being naked. However when we mention being 'nude' a different image is conjured. Yet it’s all the same thing, right? Then why do these words have such different ideas and presumptions assigned to them; where do they come from?

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve (Courtauld Gallery)

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Adam and Eve (Courtauld Gallery)

The purposes and intent behind being naked or nude are very different. As are the connotations. Naturally as the English language has evolved, they’ve each developed certain nuances.

Being naked is now fuelled with sexual connotations. Mainly because we automatically link nakedness to sex. And with the way to modern world is ruled by sexually charged advertisements on every street corner, it is no surprise.

After all, sex sells. Why? Because it’s the taboo. No matter what it is, we can’t seem to help ourselves from doing what we’re 'not supposed to do'.

It may be a tale century’s old, but Adam & Eve’s expulsion from Eden still influences us in the West. Christianity’s idea of nakedness being a sin is part of the reason we snigger upon discovering the human body as a child.

It is interesting to note that though Christianity teaches modesty, half the statues and artwork of the renaissance exposes the human body. Funny huh?

Anyway, back to it. Have we forgotten that there are other times we are naked too? Or does this generation really just have sex on the brain? It’s normal to drop the drawers before bathing or changing too. And the common link, they’re all private activities.

Oil painting of Eve as an older woman, Emma Plunkett

Oil painting of Eve as an older woman, Emma Plunkett

But it’s when the veil of privacy is dropped that we cross over into the category of nudity. Nudity is the bare body, made public. A woman’s nipple cheekily slips out of her dress and the papers are all over it. She is shamed for making what should be private, publicly. And that’s a shame in itself. We all know the human body, yet these stories still make front page news, time and time again.

I think John Berger, the art critic had it right all this time. To put it short and sweetly, to be naked is ‘to be without clothes’ and to be nude is to be ‘seen by others’.

But maybe we’re just discussing synonyms because at the end of the day, naked is naked is naked. So regardless of whether we’re using the word naked or nude, the bare body is what it is and there’s nothing to be shy about.

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