For the past couple of weeks, several websites have been publishing photos of ESPN’s 2014 Body Issue, an annual event in which they display tastefully done images of world renowned athletes in the nude. I hadn’t discussed it because I had nothing really to say about it at the time, and there was no way I was just going to post pictures of celebrities with zero context just because they were naked.
I finally got my copy today and the pictures, as usual, are great, some more so than others. I love ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue – for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. While most people prefer to focus on the fact that we’re getting butt shots and side-boob action, they tend to ignore the actual point that is attempting to be associated with the pictures. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the fact that these athletes – most of whom are in their physical prime – have chosen to strip down for our viewing pleasure. This is, naturally, the primary attraction of the issue. However, many people don’t seem to realise that the stories of the athletes in the Body Issue are aimed at highlighting the pride that some of them take in their physiques, the insecurities that others have of how they look or used to look, and the determination it takes to remain in shape, whether you’re an athlete or not. This wasn’t actually the original point of my post; I just, as usual, went off-topic.
I decided to tackle this post because of some idiotic comments I read online in response to this publication. Some holier-than-thou individuals have obviously chosen to take the puritanical route, and condemn the fact that everything in our culture seems to include sex and nudity. First off, while many facets of mainstream media do, indeed, overtly portray sex and sexuality, this is not the case with this magazine. There is a marked difference between displaying a naked body for unadulterated titillation, and displaying a naked body to show appreciation for the human form. Even in the case of the former, so the hell what?!
The only reason that there exists this moronic taboo in relation to sex, sexuality and nudity is because, for generations, we have conditioned ourselves to view these topics as evil or blasphemous. Need I really remind anyone that if it weren’t for sex and the pleasure associated with it, we wouldn’t be where we are today? I’m not even talking about the propagation of our species… I’m referring to our position on the evolutionary scale in the animal kingdom. It is because we have a natural propensity to enjoy sex, and engage in it more often than once a month that we have been able to keep spawning, taking advantage of natural selection, and ultimately improving upon the genetic and intellectual components of the human race. As for condemning nudity as if it were something so foul, if we were meant to never be seen naked, we would have evolved in such a way that we would emerge from the womb decked out in Calvin Klein and Baby Phat apparel. As it stands, the idea that we should always be covered is nothing more than a social construct, now manipulated in such a way that it serves an industrial and economic purpose far more than it does a moral or modest one.
We need to stand up for what we think is right, there is no doubt about that. But to assign blame and shame where there should be none is incredibly absurd, and does nothing but highlight your idiocy and misdirected judgement.
I’ve included more pictures after the jump.