The COVID-19 pandemic could change world norms around nudity forever. And keep us healthier.
Because recent research has shown that the virus likes – meaning ‘stays on longer’ – clothes much more than mere skin. And it likes metal and plastic more than cardboard. The virus cannot penetrate the bare skin, unlike fabrics and other things that are porous or chemically attractive to it. See for example, “The health benefit of being naked: How stripping down is good for you”, NBC’s Today Show, August 25, 2016, or search online ‘coronavirus and clothing’, etc. The virus is averse to anything that is oily, contains bleach or isopropyl-alcohol (75+%), or to especially, soap. Our skin is naturally oily.
Sociologically, the nude body attracts some people, repels others, or just is, for others. It reflects ambiguous prevailing social norms in some countries, very clear norms in others, and is also also our primordial state. We are born nude but immediately have to be covered up, mostly for the rest of our lives in the vast majority of societies. Sexualized semi-nude and nude bodies ‘sell’ in the media and in bars and nightclubs. Thousands of legal nudist/naturist resorts, public parks (e.g., Germany) public saunas (e.g., Finland, Canada) and remote hiking trails around the world, allow for the sensual and psychosocial benefits of non-sexual group nudity. Public nudity otherwise is generally condemned through fines and rarely, prison sentences. And the right for women to go topless is now protected in some regions of Canada, the US, and western Europe.
This cultural tapestry presents barriers and opportunities for persons vigilant about staying healthy during the current COVID-19 virus pandemic. So does the weather, when it comes to deciding to be nude as a greater safety feature than wearing clothes.
So, practically speaking, would it be better to go shopping for essentials in public, while wearing next to nothing, except shoes, gloves, and a mask? Yes, because of the interactive properties of the virus with clothing, and No, because it’s still illegal. This is why people are encouraged to take their clothes off and/or wash their clothes, when they get inside their own home, and have a shower before dressing. Naturists/nudists – of which there are estimated to be about 35 million around the globe – have no problem doing this and remaining nude as usual.
Body acceptance is a prevailing hurdle, governed largely by legal/political/ traditional/religious/family views, about the nude body. Naturists have one up on these restrictions, and theoretically can be therefore safer from infection both as a possible carrier and a disease transmitter, anywhere they can get away with being nude.
So leave your clothes in the closet, unless you’re going shopping. Stay healthy.
Note that the suggested relationship between bare skin and its protective effects against the virus hosting or spreading, needs more empirical research to show solid causality.