Quotations on nudity, nakedness, and body acceptance

Obviously, everything here was written in, or has been translated into, English. But for this, there surely would be much more good material.

One other thing you might notice about many or most of these quotes is that they are by painters, photographers, sculptors, dancers, actresses, actors, poets, writers, and philosophers. That is, they are by people who have either attempted (and succeeded in) appreciating the naked body as a work of nature’s artistry, or thinkers who have striven to apprehend and elucidate the subject using their minds. Often, both approaches to understanding naked human bodies have been taken by the same person. What they generally have in common is that they are known to large segments of the population on the basis of the quality of their work in their chosen field.

Unfortunately, however, individuals prominent in the nudist/naturist community have been less successful at expressing their thoughts on the subject with the same degree of credibility or percipience. Perhaps this is because they are seen as advocates for a cause, hence lacking objectivity. Many nudist/naturist bloggers, for example, have made perspicacious comments about nudity, but they are practically invisible and unknown to the general public. This may be simply because mass media have no serious interest in the subject. But it’s still a problem.

I plan to write a post soon to offer suggestions for dealing with the problem.

  • John Berger
    1. To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude. (The sight of it as an object stimulates the use of it as an object.) Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. To be naked is to be without disguises.
        — Ways of Seeing

  • Ruth Bernhard
    1. The human body represents to me the same universal innocence, timelessness and purity of all seed pods, suggesting the mother as well as the child, the parental as well as the descendant, conceived according to nature’s longings.
        — The Eternal Body: A Collection of Fifty Nudes

    2. It is so basic. A human being is an innocent part of nature. Our civilization has distorted this universal quality that allows us to feel at home in our skin. Other animals have coats that they accept,
      but the human race has yet to come to terms with being nude.
        — The Eternal Body: A Collection of Fifty Nudes

    3. Down through the centuries, poets, sculptors, painters, and now photographers have also been striving to grasp and immortalize the beauty of the human body, both male and female. I see in these forms the elemental relationship to the large forms of nature, a sense of strength like a rock, and fluidity like water, space like a mountain range.
        — The Eternal Body: A Collection of Fifty Nudes

    4. If I have chosen the female form in particular, it is because beauty has been debased and exploited in our sensual twentieth century. We seem to have a need to turn innocent nature into evill ugliness by the twist of the mind. Women have been the target of much that is sordid and cheap, especially in photography. To raise, to elevate, to endorse with timeless reverence the image of woman has been my mision.
        — The Eternal Body: A Collection of Fifty Nudes

    5. Every day I am aware of the flow and constant change; perhaps I am at the edge of discovering what more our bodies might be able to teach about the spirit of life. At least, I am always exploring and trying to understand our relationship to the whole universe.
        — The Eternal Body: A Collection of Fifty Nudes

  • Emily Browning
    1. I just think that people are so weird about nudity and the human body. Sex is not bad, naked bodies are not bad and naked bodies don’t always have to be connected to sex.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Wynn Bullock
    1. Human beings to me are as much a part of nature as trees or birds, and the unclothed body expresses this belongingness directly and powerfully.
        — Wynn Bullock, photographing the nude: the beginnings of a quest for meaning

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs
    1. This was life! Ah, how he loved it! Civilization held nothing like this in its narrow and circumscribed sphere, hemmed in by restrictions and conventionalities. Even clothes were a hindrance and a nuisance. At last he was free. He had not realized what a prisoner he had been.
        — Tarzan of the Apes

    2. Clothes therefore, must be truly a badge of greatness; the insignia of the superiority of man over all other animals, for surely there could be no other reason for wearing the hideous things.
        — Tarzan of the Apes

    3. For a time Jack was angry; but when he had been without the jacket for a short while he began to realize that being half-clothed is infinitely more uncomfortable than being entirely naked. Soon he did not miss his clothing in the least, and from that he came to revel in the freedom of his unhampered state.
        — The Son of Tarzan

  • Robyn Davidson
    1. By now I was utterly deprogrammed. I walked along naked usually, clothes being not only putrid but unnecessary. My skin had been baked a deep terra-cotta brown and was the constituency of harness leather. The sun no longer penetrated it. I retained my hat.
        — Tracks

  • John Donne
    1. Full nakedness! All joyes are due to thee,
      As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be
      To taste whole joyes.
        — To His Mistress Going to Bed

    2. To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
      What needst thou have more covering than a man.
        — To His Mistress Going to Bed

  • Isadora Duncan
    1. The noblest art is the nude. This truth is recognized by all, and followed by painters, sculptors and poets. Only the dancer has forgotten it, who should remember it, as the instrument of [the dance] art is the human body itself.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Colin Fletcher
    1. The best dress for walking is nakedness. But our sad though fascinating world rarely offers the right and necessary combinations of weather and privacy, and even when it does the Utopia never seems to last very long.
        — The Complete Walker III

    2. By walking naked you gain far more than coolness. You feel an unexpected sense of freedom from restraint. An uplifting and almost delirious sense of simplicity. In this new simplicity you soon find that you have become, in a new and surer sense, and integral part of the simple, complex world you are walking through. And then you are really walking.
        — The Complete Walker III

    3. Now, nakedness is a delightful condition. And it keeps you very pleasantly cool – especially, I suppose, if you happen to be a man. But as I walked on eastward that afternoon through my private, segregated, Tonto world (exercising due care at first for previously protected sectors of my anatomy) I found I had gained more than coolness. I felt a quite unexpected freedom from restraint. And after a while I found that I had moved on to a new kind of simplicity. A simplicity that had a fitting, Adam- like, in-the-beginning earliness about it.
        — The Man Who Walked Through Time

    4. Freed from the pressure of haste, the tyranny of film, and now the restraint of clothes, I found myself looking more closely at what went on around me.
        — The Man Who Walked Through Time

  • Eduardo Galeano
    1. The Church says: the body is a sin.
      Science says: the body is a machine.
      Advertising says: The body is a business.
      The Body says: I am a fiesta.
        — Walking Words

  • Federico Garcia Lorca
    1. To see you naked is to recall the Earth.
        — Reference: Goodreads

  • Paul Gauguin
    1. Under the continual contact with the pebbles my feet have become hardened and used to the ground. My body, almost constantly nude, no longer suffers from the sun. Civilization is falling from me little by little. I am beginning to think simply, to feel only very little hatred for my neighbor – rather, to love him.
        — Noa, Noa: The Tahitian Journal

  • Khalil Gibran
    1. Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
      And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy, you may find in them a harness and a chain.
      Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your body and less of your raiment.
        — The Prophet

    2. Some of you say, “It is the north wind who has woven the clothes we wear.”
      And I say, Ay, it was the north wind,
      But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.
      And when his work was done he laughted in the forest.
      Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.
      And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?
      And forget not that the earth deliights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
        — The Prophet

  • Martha Graham
    1. The body says what words cannot. I believe that dance was the first art.
        — Reference: Goodreads

  • Robert Graves
    1. For me, the naked and the nude
      (By lexicographers construed
      As synonyms that should express
      The same deficiency of dress
      Or shelter) stand as wide apart
      As love from lies, or truth from art.
        — The Naked and the Nude

  • Horatio Greenough
    1. In nakedness I behold the majesty of the essential instead of the trappings of pretension.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Robert Grudin
    1. At pains to define liberty, that most resolute of indefinables, our minds fall back on spatial images; on birds, sailboats, and mountains; the untethered balloon, the blue sky, the nude figure.
        — Time and the Art of Living

  • William Hazlitt
    1. The Princess Borghese, Bonaparte’s sister, who was no saint, sat to Canova as a reclining Venus, and being asked if she did not feel a little uncomfortable, replied, “No. There was a fire in the room.”
        — Conversations of James Northcote Esq.R.A.

  • Robert Heinlein
    1. Beauty is not diminished by being shared.
        — Job, A Comedy of Justice

  • Lucy Irvine
    1. With a little inner pirouette of excitement I realised just how much there was to look forward to tomorrow. The thought of being all day naked in the sun was delicious enough in itself, but there was the whole of our new world to explore.
        — Castaway

    2. In the first weeks I had occasionally worn clothes in the morning before the sun began its ascent, but very soon I abandoned this habit, and the only bit of material I ever wore was the strip of sari cloth around my hips, which was so useful for making into a bag to collect coconuts on walks.
        — Castaway

    3. Last night I had rinsed out my sari strip and briefs in the sea. I walked down naked to where they hung in the branches of the silvery leafed tree beside the creek. Underneath the
      lazy sensuality of a luxurious stretch from toes to nose I felt the strong unequivocal demand of my blood. I hugged myself for a moment watching the grey light yield to dawn through half-closed eyes.
        — Castaway

  • Julia Kristeva
    1. Significance is inherent in the human body.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Janet Lembke
    1. Bare skin is the one and only right criterion for receiving water’s gracious acceptance or any acceptance whatsoever from that element. But Pliny also seems to say something more: Stripping off not caution but the stale, crusty garments of preconception, peeling sensibly down to raw, new nakedness, is the only way to enter and be properly embraced by the world.
        — Skinny Dipping

    2. Truth is, most of us contain a splashing, giggling, squealing child who knows without thinking that bare skin and water go together as wings go with air, roots with earth, and the phoenix with incendiary sun. And innocence belongs to us as it did to ancient Greek athletes, who never wore clothes for their footraces or boxing matches but rather oiled themselves until their nude bodies glistened in the sunlight.
        — Skinny Dipping

  • Robert Lowell
    1. After fifty so much joy has come,
      I hardly want to hide my nakedness.
        — Plane Ticket

  • Katherine Mansfield
    1. How idiotic civilization is! Why be given a body if you have to keep it shut up in a case like a rare, rare fiddle?
        — Reference: quotefancy

  • Michelangelo
    1. What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed?
        — Reference: BrainyQuote

  • Michel de Montaigne
    1. Man is the sole animal whose nudities offend his own companions, and the only one who, in his natural actions, withdraws and hides himself from his own kind.
        — Apology for Raymond Sebonde

    2. Now, since everything else is furnished with the exact amount of needle and thread required to maintain its being, it is in truth incredible that we alone should be brought into the world in a defective and indigent state, in a state such that we cannot maintain ourselves without external aid.
        — On the custom of wearing clothes

    3. Our skin is provided as adequately as theirs with endurance against the assaults of the weather: witness so many nations who have not yet tried the use of any clothes. Our ancient Gauls wore hardly any clothes; nor do the Irish, our neighbors, under so cold a sky.
        — Apology for Raymond Sebonde

    4. For all parts of the body that we see fit to expose to the wind and air are found fit to endure it: face, feet, hands, legs, shoulders, head, according as custom invites us. For if there is a part of us that is tender and that seems as though it should fear the cold, it should be the stomach, where digestion takes place; our fathers left it uncovered, and our ladies, soft and delicate as they are, sometimes go half bare down to the navel.
        — Apology for Raymond Sebonde

  • Desmond Morris
    1. There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes.One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exceptionis a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens. The zoologist now has to start making comparisons. Where else is nudity at a premium.
        — The Naked Ape

  • John Muir
    1. The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one’s flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure glow not explainable.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Friedrich Nietzsche
    1. Men are even lazier than they are timorous, and what they fear most is the troubles with which any unconditional honesty and nudity would burden them.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Alexander Pope
    1. ‘Tis well – but, Artists! who can paint or write,
      To draw the naked is your true delight:
      That robe of quality so struts and swells,
      None see what parts of nature it conceals.
      Th’ exactest traits of body or of mind,
      We owe to models of an humble kind.
        — Epistle II: To a Lady on the Characters of Women

  • Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
    1. She lives a sophisticate’s life among worldly people. At the slightest excuse she steps out of civilization, naked and relieved, as I should step out of a soiled chemise.
        — Cross Creek

  • Odilon Redon
    1. The painter is not an intellectual if, when he has painted a nude woman, he gives us the idea that she is just about to put her clothes back on.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • George Bernard Shaw
    1. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.
        — Man and Superman

  • Angelus Silesius
    1. What is outside yourself does not convey much worth; Clothes do not make the man, the saddle not the horse.
        — Reference: AZ Quotes

  • Henry David Thoreau
    1. We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough. In Wildness is the preservation of the world.
        — Reference: Gurteen.com

    2. What a singular fact for an angel visitant to this earth to carry back in his note-book, that men were forbidden to expose their bodies under the severest penalties.
        — Journals

    3. It is an interesting question how far people would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.

  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
    1. Adam and Eve entered the world naked and unashamed – naked and pure-minded. And no descendant of theirs has ever entered it otherwise. All have entered it naked, unashamed, and clean in mind. They entered it modest. They had to acquire immodesty in the soiled mind, there was no other way to get it.
        — Letters from the Earth

    2. The convention miscalled modesty has no standard, and cannot have one, because it is opposed to nature and reason, and is therefore an artificiality and subject to anybody’s whim, anybody’s diseased caprice. And so… in lands inhabited by the innocent savage, the refined European lady soon gets used to full-grown native stark-nakedness and ceases to be offended by it. A highly cultivated French count and countess — unrelated to each other — who were marooned in their nightclothes, by shipwreck, upon an uninhabited island in the eighteenth century, were soon naked. Also ashamed — for a week. After that their nakedness did not trouble them, and they soon ceased to think about it.
        — Letters from the Earth

    3. Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity – these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them. They hide nothing. They are not ashamed.
        — Letters from the Earth

    4. Soon as it was night out we shoved; when we got her out to about the middle we let her alone, and let her float wherever the current wanted her to; then we lit the pipes, and dangled our legs in the water, and talked about all kinds of things—we was always naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us—the new clothes Buck’s folks made for me was too good to be comfortable, and besides I didn’t go much for clothes, no how.
        — The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn

    5. The waves most washed me off the raft sometimes, but I hadn’t any clothes on, and didn’t mind.
        — The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn

  • Walt Whitman
    1. Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
      (In the best poems re-appears the body, man’s or woman’s, well-shaped, natural, gay,
      Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of shame.)
        — Leaves of Grass

    2. I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked.
        — Song of Myself

    3. The love of the body of a man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
      That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect…
      The swimmer naked in the swimming bath, seen as he swims through the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls
      Silently to and fro in the heave of the water,
      If anything is sacred the human body is sacred,
      And the glory and the sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted, and in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred
      Body, is more beautiful than the most beautiful face.
        — I Sing The Body Electric

    4. Nature was naked, and I was also. It was too lazy, soothing, and joyous-equable to speculate about. Yet I might have thought somehow in this vein: Perhaps the inner never-lost rapport we hold with earth, light, air, trees, &c, is not to be realized through eyes and mind only, but through the whole corporeal body, which I will not have blinded or bandaged any more than the eyes. Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! – ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness the indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Perhaps indeed he or she to whom the free exhilarating extasy of nakedness in Nature has never been eligible (and how many thousands there are!) has not really known what purity is–nor what faith or art or health really is.
        — Specimen Days

  • Charis Wilson
    1. Whatever the reasons, I enjoyed being nude; it felt natural to me. I got the same kind of pleasure from being free of clothing that many people get from being well dressed.
        — Edward Weston: nudes : his photographs accompanied by excerpts from the daybooks & letters

    2. I suppose we acquire most of our feelings about our bodies too early, and in ways too complicated, to make them easy to account for.
        — Edward Weston: nudes : his photographs accompanied by excerpts from the daybooks & letters

  • Anonymous
    1. the forest speaks to me at last: be known,
      all naked in this fertile space, at one.
      i walk upon my winding path alone.

      someone else here, too, one time was thrown
      into this dark echoing wood. i run.
      i wonder: are these sounds of birds my own?

      unclothed, unshod, i search for hope. a bone
      or two beside the way at dawn says: none.
      i walk upon my winding path alone.

      they say someone in a far place has shown
      we are not meant to have a life, a sun.
      i wonder: are these sounds of birds my own?

      my naked skin, my breasts, my thighs have grown
      accustomed to the air, the light they’ve won.
      i walk upon my winding path alone.

      stripped bare of rags, of will, i’ve flown
      to places where no joy, no love is done.
      i wonder: are these sounds of birds my own?
      i walk upon my winding path alone.

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