Justin Bieber: Butt-Naked And Born Again

One of the world's biggest pop stars is living like a tiny, clothes-free baby. Celebrate this moment.

Justin Bieber’s comeback is well under way. He’s selling out arenas. He’s performing his wee baby heart out. He’s opting out of fan meet-and-greets because, in the most mature decision made in his 22 years, he’s found they’ve begun to jeopardize his mental health. Justin is not the same young man who once peed in a bucket, egged his house, and lost a monkey. Justin has been reborn – in that he is now like a literal baby.

This past weekend, Justin Bieber went skinny-dipping and posted a nude photo of himself on Instagram to prove it. Taken by his bestie John Shahidi (CEO of the social networking app company Shots), the photo alluded to J-Biebs being one with nature. With his back to the camera, he gazes out into the wilderness, spiritually becoming one with our one true home (planet Earth), while arguably contemplating what it means to be alive.

Or at least that’s my takeaway from it. Especially because this photo isn’t sexual. It’s not even controversial. It’s the Instagram equivalent of a tasteful Paul Peel painting, particularly the one with the tiny kids in front of the fireplace. It’s an allusion to Bieber’s newfound innocence thanks to the juxtaposition of his butt with an all-natural backdrop of trees, clouds, and a lake – like a modern-day answer to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, only somehow more striking. The only way he could scream "I’ve been reborn" any louder would be if he re-enacted the scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves is hatched from his egg. (Which I would for sure pay to see, if only so I could outfit him in Matrix clothes.)

By removing sexual context from his photographic narrative, Justin positions himself as a blank slate. He’s not a vehicle for sex or exhibitionism, he’s merely a nude body -- like a model in an art class, or (more realistically) an infant. By simply standing there, engaging with nature, and ultimately announcing that he’s happy and comfortable being naked around his best friend, he’s proving that he’s freed himself of existing baggage (read: clothes and "I’m an adult now!" sexual context), and is ready to start anew.

This isn’t the first time he's made this point. When he posed nude on the cover of Clash magazine earlier this year, it wasn't in an attempt to prove himself a man — mainly because he already did that by rebelling so publicly from 2011 to 2014, shedding his innocence and purple hoodies in the process. Instead, these tactics read as an effort to prove that he’s got nothing to hide. In 2016, after flailing so publicly and pulling himself out of the pit he created, he’s become Justin 2.0. And as such, he’s learning to sit, stand, walk, talk, and see again.

Biebs's attitude stands in striking contrast to most other pop stars keen to bare it all. On the one hand, Liam Payne’s six-pack selfies allude to a thirst so prominent I want to send him a sippy cup (We get it, kid! You work out!), while Miley Cyrus's bare skin is all about owning her sexuality. Nudity has become a platform by which to seek out validation from peers and fans or to commit to a new phase of adulthood – but it’s rare that it exists all on its own, the way Justin Bieber frames it. It’s rare to see it documented by a BFF on a weekend out. It’s rarer still to see it just … there, without a wink and a "You like what you see, everybody?" or even so much as a "LOL."

Look, we’ve all seen baby pictures. Most of us have seen The Matrix. (If you haven’t, I can only assume you’re an agent, so I don’t trust you.) With those in mind, it only makes sense to declare Justin our newborn son, whom we must simply gaze at and "awwww" about. Let's treasure these fleeting moments of innocence.