Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
In this issue
- This week: Nudity
- Virtual Snacks
- Bizarre Searches
- Quotation and joke
Some of you may have heard the news story about the nude rambler who was arrested last week for stripping off in a plane flying from Southampton to Edinburgh. When I asked on the BE forum about why some people get so worked up about nudity, it sparked quite a debate! So I decided it seemed like a good subject for a newsletter – after all, attitudes towards clothing (or lack of it) vary widely from country to country, as well as between the generations, sexes and other social groups.
Why do people get so het up about nudity? After all, in itself it doesn’t have any sexual implications – and naturists argue that it’s the natural state for the human body. But most of humanity – not just in the developed world, but in many developing countries too – see it as eccentric at best, disgusting, lewd or threatening at worst. Those of you living in strict Muslim countries – especially the women – will know all about the strict rules about covering up.
And of course we Brits are famous throughout Europe for our prudishness. (My one-time Danish housemates in Northern Iraq thought nothing of wandering naked into the communal kitchen after they’d showered – after all, they were still wet – and found my eye-averting embarrassment hilarious.) Blame the Victorians; those stories about the legs of pianos and other pieces of furniture being covered up to discourage sexual thoughts are perfectly true, I’m afraid.
Are naturists just another minority group for people to fear and hate, or is there more to it than that?
Arguably, there are good physiological reasons to cover up. It’s no accident that the bits which most people expect to be covered up are already in fairly inaccessible places; nature’s design to protect these vulnerable orifices from infection. On the other hand, since they’re already pretty well covered, you could argue there’s no need to do more. After all, animals don’t. Have you ever seen a cat from behind?
I suppose it all depends what you’re used to. Culture shock applies just as much to the customs surrounding dress as it does to, say, food and drink. When the Beatles first made it to fame they were thought quite outrageous by the British and US over-forties because of their long hair. Nowadays their mop-top haircuts might attract mild amusement, but little more. And even shocking pink hair hardly has the capacity to shock – in the West, at least – since the punk era.
But if you’re an expat your perspectives change a bit. When I first worked overseas in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province – with as repressive a clothes regime as you’re likely to find anywhere – I was once sent home to get dressed properly because I was showing perhaps a couple of centimetres of wrist. Just a few months later, when I went on my first overseas leave (to Bangkok) I felt quite self-conscious and exposed to be wearing a T-shirt and shorts after so long.
It seems a shame, really. After all, nudity isn’t sex – whatever the Taliban or the Moral Majority might think. And when you read the information that naturists have posted on the Web, they seem perfectly nice, decent people who want nothing more than to be allowed to enjoy normal lives in peace – just without clothes. Unfortunately for them, they seem unlikely to get the peace they seek except behind their own closed doors. As Dilbert observed: “On the fourth day of telecommuting, I realized that clothes are totally unnecessary.”
And of course, if you want to stand naked in front of a frying pan full of bacon in your own home, you’re perfectly at liberty to. Personally, I think I’ll continue to do it clothed and with an apron on!
Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?
The story that sparked off the discussion:
BBC: Rambler held over mid-air strip
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Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“Nudity is undignified and an error of taste.”
– Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
In the US:
Take off all your clothes and walk down the street waving a machete and firing an Uzi, and terrified citizens will phone the police and report: “There’s a naked person outside!”