We live in a society where body shaming is a legitimate cause for concern and a surprisingly common occurrence within it. If you’ve been keeping abreast of the press these last weeks you’ll have become familiar with Dr. Victoria Bateman and her striking commitment to, and faith in, a really rather simple, fundamental perspective: gender equality is a real, genuine problem; and, in opposition to the generally forward progression of society, becoming increasingly more prevalent.
The Naked Professor, as Dr. Bateman is also known as, is protesting against this, as well as Brexit, by using her body to amplify the message: ‘my body, my choice’.
Her position (and everybody else’s) on Brexit aside, late last week The Body Manifesto emerged as a public petition and a quick glance through the 10 items on it might make you do a double take. After all, those 10 points would not look out of place pinned up on the wall of any naturist club/venue and they certainly do not demand anything unreasonable. Why would it seem so outrageous to expect to be permitted to lose all worries about one’s own body? In fact, one might find their natural inclination questioning why a manifesto is needed in the first place.
1. Every person can feel valued and confident in their own skin
2. Nobody is made to feel ashamed about their body
3. We value the whole variety of body shapes, ages, ethnicities, and genders – as opposed to a single, mythical, fabricated ideal driven by profit
4. No body is considered “flawed”
5. No person’s value is held to fundamentally rest on their body, appearance, or “virginity”
6. No person’s worth depends on what that person chooses to cover or uncover of their body
7. No person is instructed by any state or society to “cover up” or “uncover”
8. Every person can make different body choices and feel their own choices are respected: a world of “my body, my choice”
9. Every person has full agency to determine for themselves how their body is valued, where it lives, where it goes, and what it does
10. We call upon the media to cease digitally manipulating photos of people, which distorts our view and causes unhealthy behaviours. We call for a first media outlet to lead the way by refusing to edit human photos, and we call on consumers to support this
The manifesto begins by highlighting the restrictions women have faced throughout history: ‘For centuries, society has restricted what women can do with their bodies and with their brains, and whilst we have made much progress in terms of women’s ability to do what they want with their brains, the same cannot be said of their bodies.’ The manifesto calls into question the ways in which women are still finding themselves subjected to a prescription: the female body can be viewed, commodified and objectified freely.
What The Body Manifesto is doing is championing that which we, the Naturists and the open-minded alike, almost take for granted: nudity is normal. Nudity is healthy. Nudity is all-inclusive and free-of prejudice. But more than this the manifesto is raising the profile of this ideology and by using her own profile (currently boosted by her Brexit-focussed performance) to turn up the volume so that more people can tune in, Bateman is forcing us to give those stale old attitudes a little more thought.
It’s a welcome, high-profile move in favour of Naturism and its fundamental values of equality. The petition currently has 233 signatures and whilst it may appear to be a little uncertain as to what exactly Dr. Bateman, and her co-author Susanna Cerasuolo, are trying to prove with it the petition is ultimately a fight for basic human rights – human rights so basic it’s a concern that they need fighting for in the first place!
The manifesto is not a demand to engage in society sans-clothes but rather a call to recalibrate our attitudes to the naked body, and the individual choices to embrace it without bias, evaluation or, crucially, shame.
Dr Victoria Bateman, we’re proud to stand with you.