Clothing – this is a big topic for both naturists/nudists and those who take pleasure in wearing clothing. Clothing and the lack of clothing is an expression of one’s ego, how one sees and knows oneself. This ego-self is a psychological aspect of a larger self, the part that is “somewhat” known. Here is what Freud has to say about this ego-self:
Normally, there is nothing of which we are more certain than the feeling of our self. . . . This ego appears to us as something autonomous and unitary, marked off distinctly from everything else. That such an appearance is deceptive, and that on the contrary the ego is continued inwards, without any sharp delimitation, into an unconscious mental entity which we designate as the id . . . should still have much more to tell us about the relation of the ego to the id. . . . There are cases in which parts of a person’s own body, even portions of his own mental life . . . appear alien to him and as not belonging to his ego; there are other cases in which he ascribes to the external world things that clearly originate in his own ego and that ought to be acknowledged by it. Thus even the feeling of our own ego is subject to disturbances (Freud, 1962, pp. 12-13).
For those of us understanding the nature of the ego through a Jungian lens, there is a slight difference. Here is what Jung has to say about the ego:
Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. In this respect the psyche behaves like the body, of whose physiological and anatomical structure the average person knows very little too. [“The Undiscovered Self,” CW 10, par. 491.]
Now, the issue of how we understand ourselves and how we present ourselves is more about the persona we choose to wear at any given time. For example if I were to teach a history class at a university (been there, done that), I would likely wear conservative clothing that would present myself as someone who fits the stereotype of history prof. It’s amazing the number of history profs that I have met and worked with who wear the casual corduroy or tweed jacket with slacks and no tie. To dress outside of the typical styles for a particular university or college would create unnecessary friction between self and students, and self and staff. Of course most of this conflict is not consciously generated.
To teach this same class nude would almost immediately result in a call to the police with charges of sexual harassment following. Only a pervert would deliberately shock the students and colleagues with this behaviour which is viewed as no different that walking along the street and flashing.
Yet, if the situation was carefully constructed where teaching and learning in the nude were acceptable, the response by both colleagues and students would be vastly different. Then, the teacher would have to use the art of teaching, rather than the clothing to create a belief in the students’ consciousness that one is indeed a history teacher.
Clothing makes it so much easier, instils confidence for most people. A doctor in a white coat, a surgeon in green scrubs, a policeman wearing blues, a soldier in fatigues – symbols. Where clothing doesn’t exist, there is a need to create other identifiers such as body paint used by celtic warriors, or tattoos or hair styles. Our ego demands to be recognized in the collective.
So what brought up this particular topic? Well, I am in Mexico and about a kilometre from my little casita is a Desire’s resort. Of course, as expected, there is nudity and nudity is good. However, the resort is surrounded by other resorts which are textile only resorts. How do the patrons of Desire handle the “public beach” which goes for many kilometres in either direction. After all, the beach belongs to the public, not the resort? Well as I have noticed, most patrons limit their nudity to the resort with only a few crossing the line of shrubs to the beach itself which is busy. Of those, who do so, I have only seen the males in full nudity, the females have all been only topless. The issue of full male nudity here seems to be one of challenging the world, a uniform of a different sort. What is the objective of the persona, the ego, in going into the public with genitals proudly on display when all who are likely to see the genitals just other beach goers who could really care less?
Everyone knows that the Desire resort is about nudity and expects to see nudity. If nudity is too hard to handle, then the beach stroll leads away from rather than through the beach front of Desire’s. If it is about voyeurism, then the resort is like a magnet to those with cameras hoping to get a full genital shot, or topless shot of some hot young thing. If one doesn’t care and is comfortable both in and out of clothing, then the beach in front of the resort is just a part of the larger beach.