Naturally, the thing many are afraid of is the chance of a bad reaction, and all the unpleasant consequences that could follow. I can't guarantee that will never happen, of course. But it's less likely than you probably think. And if you just use common sense in whom you talk to about it -- which some of the suggestions below will address -- you can probably figure out the people you can open up to and those you can't.
In any case, perhaps the best thing about telling others is that you don't have to suffer the guilt of having to be secretive about what you enjoy. It isn't anything to be ashamed of, so don't invite guilty feelings by acting as if it were.
A lot of the trick to telling others is just some forethought and planning. Plus practice. Think about one or two people who would be the best to start with -- and go for it. The suggestions here will, hopefully, get your thinking started.
Still need more tips and ideas? Here are some links that addres this:
Now, according to this May 12 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, BBC producer Jenny Dames decided that some footage of such merriment was essential to a documentary of Hepburn's life she's preparing. So it came about that Ms. Dames "stood in front of a group of mellow Bryn Mawr College women yesterday and gently asked them if she could film them getting naked and jumping in a fountain. They laughed. And then they said, 'OK. Sure.'"
Some of the students who volunteered to be filmed said that they were on the rugby team and were "used to getting naked." In any case, they got into the production with enthusiasm: "After crashing into the water together, the women held hands and danced a fast ring-around-a-rosy, splashing water maniacally and, in the resulting whirlpool, being swept around in a big blur of naked girl." And "After getting out, a few girls were feeling so excited that they decided nude cartwheeling was in order."
Evidently, the students discovered that nudity was sort of fun. Perhaps the Princeton "Nude Olympics" would turn out better if it were held in broad daylight and at a warmer time of the year than the night of the first snowfall.
Some students surveyed for the article "say it's likely some will again run naked through the snow next winter, despite the threat of a one-year suspension for anyone caught." Well, enjoying nudity we can understand, but they'd enjoy it a lot more if they could find a better time -- and probably a better place -- than a campus courtyard in the dead of winter. Any time there would be less need to tank up on antifreeze. Aren't there any nice fountains on campus? Perhaps they should just transfer en masse to Bryn Mawr or the University of Michigan, where the students know how to do these things right.
For previous reports on the Naked Mile here, start with Vol. 1, No. 13.
By various accounts, this year's running (which took place April 22), also improved on last year's. Participation was up from 600 last year to about 800 this year (roughly 2% of University enrollment). Many students sported body paint or (revealing) costumes, making everything more festive. Local and civic officials wasted less time beforehand issuing dire warnings that the whole thing was likely to lead to some sort of nastiness.
The event has become so popular that the local paper, Michigan Live, has obtained a domain name and a Web site titled The Naked Mile: An Ann Arbor Tradition just for the occasion. It's a good site, not particularly tacky. There isn't much actual reporting there, mind you, but there is a history of the event, a discussion forum, chat room, and -- naturally -- photos (inanely altered so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of anyone who would visit a Web site called "The Naked Mile".) Unfortunately, the paper also managed to make hypocrites of themselves by editorializing against the event. A whiff of commercial exploitation here?
There are many other Naked Mile Web sites which, regrettably, are just tacky commercial exploitation, or worse. (You know, videos for sale, and such.) Links to these will not be offered here, of course. For further details, here is one report from the Usenet.
Billed as "the world's largest footrace", with about 73,000 participants this year, the 88-year-old event held on May 16 lived up to its reputation. Even though unofficial estimates put the number of nude participants at "only" 112, this is a new high for the event -- about twice as many as ever before. If the number were to continue doubling every year, the 98th running of the event would be all nude. In any case, there were more nudes this year than any other category except runners in hula skirts (of which there were about 150).
Where else can you run or walk 7.46 miles through a major U. S. city wearing nothing at all? The best part of it is -- the nudity is now an accepted part of what is, admittedly, as much a self-consciously offbeat community celebration as a running competition. As this article (also here) from the Examiner (the official sponsor of the event) says, "it was the naked people who prevailed: Naked nymphs, hula nudes, wizened nudes, nudes in every shade the sun could produce." And again, re-emphasizing the diversity of ways people chose to celebrate nudity: "A large contingent of nudes wore lime green caps and met to do the hokey-pokey at the top of the hill. But most Breakers nakedness passed in fits and starts: a young couple holding hands, a group of aging men, a man naked from the waist down running with a woman naked from the waist up, a single naked man holding high a tree branch like an Olympic torch."
Accompanying the article as posted on the official Web site were a small selection of uncensored pictures, some of which such as this one are rather less inhibited than one is used to seeing in a U. S. newspaper. A competing paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, also had an article on the race. Their reporter managed to bungle that fact of much higher nude participation (which most everone else agreed on), but still sounded a positive note in quoting one nude runner, who gave as his reason for baring all the fact that he "could and it feels better. It's more exciting."
As reported in the Oakland Tribune in this April 26 article (also here), a half dozen of the X-plicits were on hand to provide "the requisite nudity". In sharp contrast to the events of May 1969, where at one time 2000 armed National Guardsman were deployed to defend the 2.8 acre plot against unarmed students, only about 10 local law enforcement personnel were on hand for the anniversary. They did request the Players to put some clothes on, but the request was refused, and the officers just shrugged it off, saying they didn't really plan to prevent the nude performance. "Technically, we're supposed to join in, in the spirit of community policing," a police sergeant quipped. They did, however, promise to submit a report to the DA on the incident, which was a violation of Berkeley's (infamous) anti-nudity ordinance.
Even better than the Players' actual performance, after it was over they settled, still nude, in the audience -- and were joined in nudity by about a dozen of the audience itself. And the police still paid no official attention to any of them. (Some speculate that the 10 or so officers felt rather outnumbered by the naked folk, to say nothing of the 1000 or so nude-friendly others enjoying a pleasant Sunday in the park.
Here's another article on the anniversary party.
Unfortunately, this doesn't mean nudity is again completely OK in Berkeley. The anti-nudity ordinance is technically still very much in force. And on May 5, to be exact, a local judge decided it was perfectly proper to proceed with a prosecution of X-plicit Players Marty Kent and Debbie Moore for violating the ordinance -- without a trial by jury. (See this May 6 article in the Daily Californian student newspaper.) The "trial" is scheduled for June 21. (We last wrote about Berkeley and the Players in Vol. 1, No. 14.)
By the way, one observer reports that later in the day a group of Minnesota Naturists were manning an exhibit booth, dressed in barrels. Evidently the barrels were sufficiently "proper" so as not to violate the ordinance.
Tunick had his camera confiscated too. But what exactly is the crime of "unlawful assembly"? Just a failure to have "proper" permits for a parade or demonstration. Neither of which accurately describes Tunick's project. Tunick himself, incidentally, didn't get naked. Yet none of his models, who were naked, were arrested. That's one small positive, at least.
According to New York Times columnist William Safire, the authorities intended to go after the photographer also for the crimes of "tumultuous and violent conduct" and "promoting the exposure of a person". And in this May 7 editorial, Safire (a noted conservative/libertarian) reflects on the irony of the fate of Tunick and his band of naked models -- practically in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty -- in comparison with that of 15,000 peaceful demonstrators in Beijing (which the government nervously tolerated).
Our last previous report on Spencer Tunick was in Vol. 1, Nol. 15.
However, puritianism, though still strong, is finally loosening its grip a little. As part of a current rennovation of the Library, a replica of the statue commissioned in 1993 and currently installed inside the building is scheduled to be moved to a public outdoor courtyard next year.
Now the floodgates of indecency have been opened. What next? Perhaps Rodin's "Thinker" (who is, of course, nude, as befits a thinking man), or even (gasp) Michelangelo's "David"?
It's no wonder naturism faces tough sledding in some parts of the U. S.
That, at any rate, is the contention of this April 26 article in Salon -- it's titled "Live Nude Girls: There aren't as many in Hollywood as you think -- and there should be." The fact of the matter is that the U. S. is still a prudish, puritanical society with respect to both sex and nudity, and the policies of the de facto censors at the MPAA reflect this. In the words of the author, Stephanie Zacharek, "the moviegoing climate in America today smacks a little too much of prudery, prissiness and, above all, fear. Nudity is handled much more gracefully and naturally in European movies, and is accepted much more casually by audiences. For an actor or actress, it's simply part of what goes with playing a role."
Zacharek goes on to point out that this attempt to achieve the feminist goal of eliminating the objectification of women's bodies backfires: "If female moviegoers are the ones who are made to feel uncomfortable at the sight of a naked actress on-screen, they should also consider that cultivating a climate in which women's bodies are kept under wraps, revealed chastely and tastefully or not at all, isn't the answer to making them feel better -- if anything, it's only likely to make them feel more objectified."
Indeed. As long as prudes make a big deal of nudity, women (and men) will be evaluated on superficial appearances. When -- and if -- nudity becomes no big deal, then we can get on to considering all the other aspects of a person -- on screen or in real life.
Salon Magazine has often run pro-nudity articles. See recent examples in Vol. 2, No. 4 and Vol. 2, No. 1 just for a start. On March 8, they did an article on Roger Davis' fight for the right to wear a thong swimsuit at the Miami University pool. (See our report on this in Vol. 2, No. 3.)
A quick search on the site turned up other nudity-related articles we've missed. For instance this one from last September titled From nudism to Buddhism, about a young woman's encounters with nudism in the process of fleeing from a failed relationship.
If you aren't familiar with Salon, pay a visit to their search page and have a look around.
Recently she printed a letter in her column from a woman ("Survivor in San Francisco") who had undergone a mastectomy. The woman was concerned because her husband had suggested visiting nude beaches while on vacation in France as a means to improve her self-acceptance. She was somewhat dubious of this idea, and wanted Abby's advice. Abby passed the buck to readers.
The respondents in the first batch of replies in her May 13 column were horrified at the idea. For example, "Fan in Cincinnati" "just about flipped at the insensitivity of the husband who suggested that he and his wife -- a breast cancer survivor -- go to the nude beaches on the Riviera." (Yeah, Cincinnati is prude heaven, so who's surprised at this.)
But the next column, from May 14, was right on. It leads off with a reply from an avowed nudist travel agent from the Tampa area who advises the original writer that "She should enjoy the freedom and the appreciation of her husband, who sounds like a real gem." To which Abby says: "I'm pleased that by far the majority of the comments have been positive."
Sounds like progress.
Even so, she's sympathetic not only to naturism but to gay male naturism and the benefits it offers people in the way of the ability to socialize on a more authentic level and without the sexual pressures found in "normal" clothed society.
Evidently, the project has been a great success. According to this (illustrated) article, one of the models expressed her own feelings as follows: "While we were doing it, we were a bit nervous at first. But it ended up being good fun thanks to quite a lot of red wine."
The article spends a lot of time dispelling common misconceptions about nudism/naturism which the general public tends to harbor -- though most readers of this newsletter easily recognize as silly. But the final conclusion is certainly one we can only applaud: "For those who want to enjoy nature as God intended, in an atmosphere of like-minded, mature individuals, several Pennsylvania nudist resorts are just two hours east of Pittsburgh."
According to this April 26 Business Wire story, Beyond.com's Marketing VP explained: "We were attempting to portray the Internet as a transformational phenomenon allowing people to return to more innocent times when corporate politics, job status, and -- yes -- even clothes didn't matter."
In addition to that pretty fundamental naturist theme, the idea of a connection between freedom and nudity is reinforced -- with the latter symbolizing the former. And best of all, the ad makes the point that "Reed *******", its work-at-home entrepreneur hero, actually happens to like being naked.
It's a long story, which you can read about through the various links below. But the essential facts are these: Hanlan's Point Beach is located on an island in Lake Ontario, just off shore from Toronto. Because of its relative remoteness, it has hosted skinny-dippers for many decades. In fact, it was officially designated as a nude beach from 1894 to 1930.
After a great deal of preparatory work a local naturist club known as the TNT!MEN under the leadership of one of their members, lawyer Peter Simm, persuaded the city's Commission of Economic Development, Culture, and Tourism to present a report to the City Council recommending an official clothing-optional designation for the beach. On April 23, this report was heard by a Council subcommittee -- and unanimously accepted. On May 12, the full Council formally approved the proposal by a vote of 41 to 9, despite vocal opposition. And on May 24, Hanlan's Point Beach was officially opened as a nude beach.
It's probably hard to overstate the importance of this development to North American naturists. True, it has occurred in Canada, which in various ways has demonstrated a more intelligent and mature attitude towards nudity than most areas of the U. S. However, as far as acceptance of recreational nudity is concerned, the U. S. and Canada are probably more similar to each other than either is to northern European countries. The calm, rational approach which has proven successful in this instance may well be applicable in some of the less conservative areas in the U. S. and elsewhere in Canada.
Press coverage of this has been extensive, and mostly positive. Here are some of the many recent articles about Hanlan's Beach:
And here is additional related information:
An even more serious problem is that the anti-nudity bill introduced by right-wing Repbulican state senator James Cafiero is rushing towards legislative approval. The bill doesn't flatly criminalize simple nudity statewide, but it does allow local governments to ban nudity on state land in their jurisdiction. This will effectively eliminate nude use at Higbee. It doesn't directly affect the very popular clothing-optional Gunnison Beach in northern New Jersey, which is on Federal land -- but that could become the next target.
The text of the anti-nudity bill is here. As reported in this article, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 37-0 on May 24. (There's a shorter article here.) The bill is now before the state Assembly, where is appears to be receiving "fast-track" attention from the leadership, just as it did in the Senate.
Local officials in the Higbee area are hoping that the state will also give them $150,000 in new money to help them stop people from enjoying the beach au naturel. Senator Cafiero is promising to boost air and marine patrols to interdict any residual naturist resistance. Heck -- it's been a brilliant success in Kosovo. (See other stories here about additional fronts -- in Hawaii and Florida -- of the governmental war on naturists.)
The Naturist Action Committee has made a valiant attempt to defend the naturist position and has sent representatives to the legislature, but its limited resources made its firepower about as effective as squirt guns compared to the government's nuclear weapons, at least in this case.
There is a May 14 alert on NAC's Web site, but it is already out of date. A copy of the latest alert, issued May 28, may be found here. Even if you don't live in New Jersey or anywhere near Higbee, take a look at the latest alert and consider contacting legislators to demonstrate to them that naturists are willing to fight for what they believe in, despite the odds. (And think about sending NAC a contribution, too.)
This May 1 article from the Washington Post news service provides a good summary of the story. An interesting -- and critical -- point in the whole thing is that the Park Service has relied on distorted, revisionist history which contends that nudity is deeply offensive in native Hawaiian culture. This is largely a fabrication, as evidenced by eyewitness accounts of folks like Mark Twain, who visited the islands in 1866 and wrote about what he saw in Roughing It. (See Vol. 1, No. 8.)
Although the Naturist Action Committee is still considering its options to respond to the Park Service fiat, chances probably aren't very good. The fact is that, today, in most of the state of Hawaii naturism is as unpopular with locals as in a place like Mississippi or Alabama. The devastation to traditional Hawaiian culture wrought by Christian missionaries 150 years ago is still largely unhealed.
Evidently there's no serious crime in Santa Rosa County, since the Sheriff's Department has time to send out special "plain clothes" forces masquerading as sunbathers and fishermen to catch naturists unaware -- according to this April 30 article.
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