What I miss most about the hot springs of Japan and Taiwan was the social permission to be nude in semi-public without turning it into a major affair.
Some spas in San Francisco have public baths which allow nudity, but they are more expensive, and it’s dressed up as a special treat, rather than someone you can do as casually as visiting a restaurant. Spas are supposed to help you relax, and in a way they do, but… I felt I could let myself go a bit more at hot springs in East Asia.
I’ve also been to a hot spring in California which permits nudity. I only exposed my legs. For some reason, in that culture, I felt less comfortable exposing myself. It wasn’t that there were men there—I’ve been to mixed-gender hot springs in Japan and gone nude. Shared etiquette and staff govern Japanese onsen. That California wild hot spring had no staff, and I didn’t know what the locals’ established rules were.
Sometimes, in my dreams, I go walking in the street half-nude and don’t realize it until I’m far from home. What do those dreams mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
I need to know that others around me will accept my nudity and that we all share rules which protect us all. When I feel that safe, it’s freeing to not need clothes around other people.
That brings us to (G)I-DLE’s new song, “Nxde.”
No, they aren’t actually nude in the music video. First, major media channels would censor that. However, they say in the lyrics that by ‘nude,’ they mean they want to reveal their true selves, even if others won’t like it. This is as people are attracted to ‘nude’ for sexual voyeurism, then watch and photograph carefully styled beautiful women. But what’s underneath all that makeup and clothing? Someone who was born nude.
The tease of seeing them nude is part of the show to lure viewers, but the viewers who are coming for pornographic appeal aren’t looking to learn who these women are.
Marilyn Monroe inspired the concept, and in the video Soyeon, styled after Marilyn Monroe, reads Leaves of Grass. That alludes to Monroe’s love of classic books, but beyond that, it’s a hint of their inner lives—both Monroe’s inner life and the lives of the (G)I-DLE members.
Do we really see the (G)I-DLE members’ true selves in this song and music video? Perhaps not. This is their profession, and they are putting on a show, with all the dazzle of Kpop. But Soyeon, the leader, produced the song herself, as she produces all of their title tracks. Something of herself got into the melody (even the choice of sampling Carmen) and lyrics. Likewise, for all the ‘showiness’ dressing up the performance, something of the performers’ inner selves always expresses itself.
In one shot, online users leave rude comments for Soyeon while she doesn’t give a love about what they think and takes off her shirt. Those resemble real online comments, but they also reflect the negative comments we give ourselves.
I can relate to feeling so comfortable around others than you don’t need to dress yourself, and how rare that is.
If you’ve watched the video, I’m sure you’ve drawn your own conclusions, or at least asked your own questions.