Monday, August 20, 2012

Taboos of Death and Nudity

Recently I've been watching the show on National Geographic called Taboo. It's all about different people with strange obsessions, cultures, hobbies, etc. The two that have stood out to me the most was one on death and one on couples getting married in the nude. These are two taboos that are very much taboo in our society but were thought provoking to me.

If death is so taboo in our American society then why is it everywhere? We have TV shows, movies, video games and music that all glorify death in different ways. I mean for me death is a regular part of my everyday life. I write horror stories that have constant death in them, for my undergrad spent a great deal of time studying burials and dead bodies, and I see and talk to spirits pretty much everywhere I am. Weirdly enough though funerals make me extremely uncomfortable. This is all a weird paradox to me. So is death really taboo? Or are we supposed to think it's taboo since we are taught to fear death?

Nudity is something that is banned in many places in the United States. It is against the law to walk around naked displaying your "goods" for everyone to see. We are taught that our bodies are temples and that we are to keep them covered up and to be shown to only our significant other. This is another paradox since we have people in our society who parade around in extremely skimpy clothing.

There are many places around the world and even some in the U.S. that have nudist communities where people are simply naked. On the episode I just watched last night of Taboo this was the case. They talked to couples who went to Jamaica to participate in a group nude wedding ceremony. They all thought it was completely normal. One gentleman brought up a great point. He went on to talk about how clothing in our society (and in many others) denotes our place in society. When you strip away that label, everyone becomes equal and comfortable with each other. This concept is fascinating to me.

So whether it's death or nudity, I think these are two things that don't need to be taboo. We already see that in some places, among some people, they are not. I think we can learn from this.


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