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Kim Kardashian, nude. So what?

Edgar B. Badajos
What Tetchie Agbayani did for German 'Playboy' in 1982 was revolutionary. What Kim K recently did was erase in one fell swoop what little mystique her handlers had managed to build around her persona.

So what else is new and there to see? Kim Kardashian stripping herself naked for a magazine is nothing, really, compared with that supposedly “secret” sex tape of hers with her then R&B/Hip-hop singer boyfriend not too long ago. 

Why do people go naked?

It is always intriguing why some people love to expose their skin and everything else that is supposed to be kept hidden from public view. Is it for the money or sheer thrill of it? Is it out of stupidity, as a female friend who graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Quezon City sardonically quipped when I sought her opinion about this latest Kim K “expose’”? 

Is it what I call reverse voyeurism, which I define as that maniacal desire of some people to peep at their own naked bodies with all its warts, corns, and calluses and telltale signs of cosmetic augmentation? Others call it exhibitionism, but the more philosophical among us refer to it as a return to nature. We were all born unclothed, these Garden-of-Edenesque philosophers say.  Clothes are unnatural part of human existence. 

Tetchie Agbayani

What was Visitacion Parado (aka. Tetchie Agbayani) thinking when she dropped her clothes to the floor for German Playboy in 1982? What motivated her to face the world in naked glory? 

In an interview she gave to a local newspaper, it seems that Agbayani, who now teaches psychology at Saint Joseph’s College, went nude for two reasons: one, her movie-acting career was going nowhere, she wanted to do something out of the ordinary; two, she wanted to prove that beauties from the tropics were as deserving of a spread or two in Playboy as those milk-complexioned bombshells from the West.  

In other words, Agbayani’s bold decision to go bold (pardon the pun) had nothing to do with some reverse voyeuristic tendencies or a proclivity to exhibitionism, nor was she inspired by the Paradise story in Genesis.

It was more of a career move. 

And so Agbayani disrobed herself for Playboy, in the process ending Maria Clara’s more than 300 years of dominance in the social ways of the Filipina. Prudish Philippine society was shocked, but probably not the seminarians who occasionally sneaked into their dorm rooms a copy or two of dad’s Playboy magazine subscription. It is not known whether the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, who then headed the powerful Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, excommunicated Agbayani for her “sinful” act.  

It is believed, however, that Agbayani’s star as a celebrity shone more brightly after. 

Nothing revolutionary

BARE ALL. Kim Kardashian on the cover of 'Paper.' Photo from Instagram

What Agbayani did at that time was revolutionary. What Kim K recently did falls short of the extraordinary. 

It cannot even be considered a major career move because Kim K is already famous – or infamous, depending on who is talking. By baring herself naked to humanity, she actually erased in one fell swoop what little mystique her handlers and she had managed to build around her persona through those endless reality TV shows.

Maybe she had forgotten that besides death and taxes, another great equalizer in this world is nudity. In nakedness, any distinction between prince and pauper is completely extinguished.

But maybe Kim K’s latest derring-do finds some validation in Narcissus who fell in love with his own image that he eventually drowned because of it? My own retort to this is that Narcissus is a mythological character whose frailty reminded humanity of its often destructive selfish tendencies. Kim K is a human being like us, except that she has unnaturally big booties. 

Saving grace

I believe, however, that despite the ultimate banality of Kim K’s latest bold act, there is one lesson – call it “saving grace” if you will – that can be drawn from it. It is that there are times when we need to be daring and open to straying from the well-beaten path in order, perhaps, to found a multi-billion dollar personal-computer software company, make a breakthrough discovery in science, find a cure for the world’s deadliest diseases, or simply have one’s 15 minutes of fame as Andy Warhol once said. 

Come to think of it: as of 2013, world population stood at more than 7 billion. Given this stupendous size of humanity, each one of us is nothing but a speck in the sand, unless you are the Pope, a Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or Barrack Obama.

Viewed this way, we must at least give Kim K some credit for reminding us that sometimes it is all right to be daring and different, without stepping on other people’s toes or being completely immoral about it, if that is the last and the only way to make a difference or lasting imprint in this world. 

Of course, I am not recommending that we should also go prancing naked before the cameras. –

Edgar Badajos is a minister and consul general at the Philippine embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.