The weather and the culture don’t encourage bogotanos like me to walk around naked. However, Spencer Tunick paid Bogotá a visit and the museum of Modern Art organized a massive nude in the heart of the city’s colonial downtown.
I live on the legendary Cordillera of The Andes, up in the mountains 2600 meters above sea level, in a city that has not been known -until recent years- for being liberal.
These were my five insights from the massive nude:
- Stripping my clothes off gave me, for a brief moment, naked eyes
When Tunick gave the indication to strip off our clothes, over 6,000 attendees complied despite the cold and the anxiety of revealing their bodies. Once all our clothes were off, thousands of shivering bodies changed the usual atmosphere and colors of the capital’s biggest plaza.
Clothes protect us, but they also block us from truly revealing ourselves. Even the tiniest bikini gives off information about the person who wears it. When you see someone wearing shorts, flip-flops or a bowtie you make a judgement, but when you are naked you are no longer your clothes, you are you. Although we are more than just our bodies, being naked felt very authentic, very real.
We were able to see beyond fashion, social class, brands and many other labels that clothes give us.
2. We judge too much because we know too little
One hundred wooden tables were set on the floor for one human to stand on each one and be raised above the naked crowd. Many people were shouting out of freight, joy and many other feelings. When a black young woman and an elderly white woman were lifted, the excitement hit its peak. Why was I shouting too?
I was excited to see thousands of persons celebrating life and diversity.
We see only certain types of bodies in the media. Women and men are frequently over sexualized. Scars, age, imperfections and certain sizes and races are hidden. That day I got to see and appreciate many types of bodies that are normally hidden. Looking at the old woman stand high above us reminded me that beauty has many forms and courage is one of them.
3. I was curious and so was everybody else
At first it was very weird to talk to friendly strangers naked. But once the novelty had slightly worn off, although it never completely disappeared, it felt quite liberating. I must admit I was curious to see so many naked bodies together, as was everyone else. What surprised me was the curious, yet respectful glances that I saw around me. Everyone was looking at butts, eyes, legs, genitals and everything else. I felt observed and I was an observer as well.
Most people looked at others the way they would have wanted to be looked at, with curiosity, spontaneity and prudence.
4. Being naked reminded me of the joy of being alive
Tunick indicated that we should pose for the picture with a relaxed, calm face; no frowns, no smiles.
Before posing and during most of the time we were naked I could see people laughing, smiling and enjoying this rare moment of freedom. To me, the event was a celebration of life and the diversity that is linked to it. We shared a sense of courage and pride of our bodies and life, no matter our shape or color there was a liberating feeling of acceptance of who we are and the bodies we have.
5. Being a human is awesome
Fifty years ago this picture would have been something unthinkable, illegal and probably immoral in the eyes of many.
I feel happy and privileged to live in a society that is questioning norms and traditions that have molded history. Being naked, vulnerable and surrounded by people who were in the same situation, reminded me of our shared humanity.
No matter who you are, please remember that being alive is awesome.