When Nude Isn’t Naked

A Guest Post by Contributor Lisa Hill, American expatriate living in Switzerland.

I walk through the room, topless, anticipating… He waits for me there, ready.
doc's office - courtesy of brandi sims "house of sims" on Flickr
I climb onto the table and my doctor begins the examination.

Nudity. Nakedness. Not always the seductive, titillating state we Americans have infused it with.

Sometimes, it’s just being without clothes.

I have experienced this new clarity since moving to Switzerland and visiting the doctor here.

Pieces of Me

Back  home a doctor never sees the whole body of a patient. They sneak glimpses through peeled-back paper or under cottony gowns. One breast, one arm, a portion of rib revealed then covered again as if the light would somehow damage it. We are parts, not a whole. And those parts must not be associated with a body, with a person, lest we are overcome with….what? Lust? Embarrassment? Desire? Shame?

The first time the nurse here asked me to remove all clothing above my waist and the doctor would be in to see me, I peered around, searching for the johnny. The paper top. A robe. I inquired as to their whereabouts and was told to just undress. The doctor would be right in.

So I did with the dawning realization of something cloistered in my mind. Something I’ve always known but hadn’t stopped to consider. The doctor is a doctor. He needs to see these parts to examine and diagnose. There is no need for “Hide and Seek” in these circumstances. How had it become thus in the U.S.?

“Here is what I’ve come to see you about. Please. Look.”

Naked Practicalities

I also consider the huge savings in laundry and disposable gowns that this attitude affords. Lower cost of health care through nudity!

And I have become comfortable, to some extent, with the nakedness. At the beach on the lake, women will frequently doff their tops and stretch out in the sun. In public. With people around. And no one seems to be overwhelmed by this act. I haven’t seen anyone staring, or acting untoward.

The woman is topless because she is not wearing a top. And the world spins on.

I don’t speak for all American women or their attitudes. I know only my own impressions and motivations. For me, the narrow context in which we see the nude body back home has colored what is “appropriate” and what is “beautiful.” What is beautiful is the perfect. The perky. The American super-sized portion.

The Swiss woman doesn’t seem to be bound by the same indoctrination. The bodies lazing in the sun are perfect in their comfort, but not in the narrow view of beauty to which we are somehow held accountable. My imperfect self would be unremarkable among the other bare breasted bodies on the beach.

Not that I have overcome my ingrained modest tendencies. I endure strap lines in my tan not because my nakedness is significant to others, but because my naked body is still private territory (and somehow unworthy of display) in my American subconsciousness. Unless I have a doctor’s appointment.

Then, I walk through the room…

  5 comments for “When Nude Isn’t Naked

Comments are closed.