It all started with one very stubborn girl that refused to put her clothes on as a child.
That girl was me. From all of the home movies that I see of myself as a kid, I can testify (and my mother can verify) that I did not like to wear clothes. Apparently, I would simply remove all of my clothes as someone might put up their feet or turn on the television to get comfortable at home.
But even though I may watch my bare bottom fly up a staircase over and over again on tape, I can recognize that all kids went through this phase, where clothes were cumbersome and nudity was freedom. Then, after there were plenty of complaints abut “decency,” all children would grow up to understand that clothes were a necessary part of life, a burden unspoken. (Yes, even I, the perpetually naked toddler now wear clothes regularly. In fact, I like to layer several times over because it is one more barrier between me and the rest of the world.)
But that’s just it. We don’t grow out of that phase when we get older. Really, we just develop a voice inside of us that tells us why it is unacceptable to be nude in public. The instinct, however, still lives inside us. So, like most things, we’re resigned to keep our activities in the sanctity of our houses.
But trust me when I say that everyone knows the joys of sitting around in their underwear. Every person who has to wear a bra knows the absolute ecstasy of slingshotting it across the room. Even, in a less extreme way, a person who is forced to wear a uniform to school or work can revel in wearing a pair of denim jeans or a t-shirt after a long week at the office or the classroom.
And this is how I perceive humanity.
No, not the old public speaking trick of picturing everyone in their underwear.
It’s the idea that deep down, underneath our clothes, we’re all naked. And not only that, when we slip under the sheets of our beds, with someone lying beside us or simply by ourselves, we have no pretense, only our pajamas (or lack thereof). We share our nothingness, and somehow, it is something.
In short, I think if we could focus on the simple pleasures in life that we all know, the desire to get out of uncomfortable clothes or situations, the goal of being comfortably intimate with someone you love, or the way that we all seem to be able to shed the same second skin at the end of a long day, humans would realize that we are no different from one another. And even though we wear clothes, we’re no better than any other organism on this Earth. Pants are not a symbol of intellect, but of oppression, if you ask 4-year-old me (and sometimes, even 24-year-old me.)
Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone should join a nudist colony to connect with their inner and outer selves. Just the opposite: if we are forced to confine our humanity and experiences to the private spaces of our lives that we must work harder to recognize them in public. We must open more dialogue about the topics that we would like to keep hidden. We must all learn to celebrate each other, since they don’t call it a “birthday suit” for nothing.