Monday, May 23, 2011

The right to bare

Do you want people to be honest to you? Do you want to be open to the people who matter to you? If you answered “yes” to both questions and are ready to take action to realise those wants then you are one step closer to being a nudist. Since we also know that hidden agenda, dishonesty and close-mindedness are always perceived as negative, this means that anything that promotes the opposite would be something positive. If you agree with this then you would have taken another step towards naturism.

At this juncture you would be met with your one and only true obstacle on your path to falling in love with being one with nature–body (and self-esteem) issues. Have you wondered why the advice of picturing your speech audience naked became common? When one is naked in the presence of a fully-clothed person, the former is immediately confronted with a sense of insecurity. This puts the clothed person in a superior and more confident position and this is the psychological advantage you have over your naked audience as a public speaker. However if we can move beyond issues of insecurity, then we would all be on equal standing and see eye-to-eye. This is the only condition under which people can interact with total no-holds-barred openness. Of course I understand that we all have the right to choose our beliefs in life but in my opinion to close oneself to the idea of naturism completely and not look into the “why” of it all is not the right thing to do.

I have always thought that every single person on this planet is either a nudist or a closeted nudist, with the latter unfortunately plagued by body issues, which is a problem to most people, even very well-adjusted and secure ones. However the size and root cause of that problem differ between individuals. I used to have serious body issues ever since I hit puberty till about six years ago. I did not like to look at myself in the mirror and would try hard not to walk pass any place that had one. In the stifling heat of Singapore, I would sleep fully-clothed with underwear as I would rather die than let someone see my naked body. I think the insecurity started even before puberty as I was a late-bloomer and always envied other post-pubescent boys. Also I had a typical traditional Asian upbringing when I was made to feel bad about my looks and body–I am still unsure why parents do that despite loving their children–perhaps it is to desexualise our existence to protect us from predators? Needless to say this desexualisation made body issues even worse amongst Asians, especially gay Asians (when gay culture puts body image and aesthetics high up on the ever-unreachable pedestal).

Then one day a gay friend who has progressed much further along the path of self-acceptance gave me a piece of advice that changed my life. He said an abundance of inner beauty is essentially useless if one had no outer beauty because nobody would be attracted enough to want to get to know that inner beauty. At that time, I was still clinging on to my high-horse even though I was face-down in dirt on the ground for I thought it would be too superficial for me to beautify myself just to get a partner (how foolish I was back then). That piece of advice jolted me off the ground and into the gym where I spent the next few years building up the body I have right now. Boy, if you ask me to choose between being an extreme narcissist or an extreme self-hater, I would gladly choose the former (not that I am there yet). Gradually as I got the much-needed affirmation from the gay community because of my body, I grew from a person laden with self-esteem issues to one who actively seeks opportunities to bare all in front of the camera. Pretty drastic isn’t it? But I am darn proud of myself for what I have achieved.

So that was the story of how I overcame my body issues. The point of sharing that is to show that with a mindset-shift, every person in this world can change for the better despite how dire the situation is. To me, the biggest and most “justified” reason against naturism is body issues. The other minor things I can think of that naysayers often have in mind (other than the obvious reason of it being illegal in most countries) when the topic comes up are listed as follows:

1) Sense of shame–this is slightly more entrenched than body issues (though both are related) and often steeped in religious dogma (think Adam and Eve post-Eden).

2) Nudist events are always very sexualised yet that element is always downplayed to gain more support for naturism ie. nudists are hypocrites as well.

3) For people who can only associate nude bodies with sex, taboo regarding all things related to sex becomes a stumbling block.

4) Males tend to worry that they would spot erections when sexual stimuli is in sight.

5) Usually out-of-shape and old people are seen at nudist events, which is unsightly to some.

6) Taboo surrounding nude children in family events.

Now I will provide my thoughts on the above-mentioned points:

1) Though entrenched, this is minor compared to body issues because most countries in this world are secular ie. church being separate from state. This means that religious dogma holds no weight in any argument that concerns laws of countries. You need more than religion to outlaw naturism. And since when did it become right for the word “shame” to be something people wear proudly as a badge? Isn’t “shame” supposed to be a negative trait?

2) I agree that nudist events are often sexualised especially ones organised by gay men. To me, sex is not taboo and is as common a need as eating or drinking. I am against nudists being hypocritical about the sexual element for I think we should embrace it as part and parcel of any event–sex can happen anywhere and straight and gay people alike have it all the time. However I can understand why not promoting the sex part might go down smoother with anti-nudists.

3) For those who cannot dissociate in their minds being nude around other people from actually having sex with them then I think there is something wrong with them, not the nudists. As for sexual taboo, it is their loss because they are the ones having less sex and I daresay worse sex when they DO have sex.

4) Theoretically in mixed-gender events, the etiquette dictates that the aroused male should move away from the opposite sex until said arousal has died down. Well in the gay world this is certainly not a problem because men know that other men think of sex a lot–it is only women who see this as a problem and frankly I do not really care for their sensibilities. You just cannot please everyone in life.

5) To a lot of people, getting rid of all body issues and fully accepting themselves can take a lot of time. This could explain why a lot of younger people are not into naturism because they simply need more time to evolve, which means that there tends to be more older folks present at nudist events. However this should not be an issue because once you have developed to a stage of complete self-acceptance, you would be able to truly accept other people for who they are. This is one of the main reasons why people become nudists and I feel that the world can most certainly do with more acceptance right now.

6) The naked children-taboo is a tricky one and I know that rules have been created to safeguard against child-molestation eg. kids-only places for certain hours of the day. Frankly, this is really not my concern because as parents, you are responsible for your own kids. If they get molested when coming home from school alone, who can the parents blame besides themselves (for a lack of supervision)? So if parents bring their kids to nudist events then they are to be held responsible if anything happens. I do advocate an adult-only world of naturism if it is up to me so that things would be much simpler. And oh, if I already do not care about the sensibilities of women, I would care even less about this child thing (an advantage of having your own blog is that you need not be politically-correct on it).

I have a dear friend back in Singapore who happens to be a nudist. I was tempted initially to say “a nudist friend” but I realise that he is so much more than a nudist–he is a gay activist who is actively promoting gay acceptance, something not a lot of people are doing in Singapore. A lot of people mistake him for being ultra-liberal (as if that is a bad word) and over-sexed as he pushes for nudist rights (including the right to have designated spots for public sex like in Europe) alongside gay rights. But these people are all wrong for they fail to see that once the restraint of clothes gets removed (after the wearer has absolved himself from all body issues), what else can still stand between people, their interaction and their acceptance of one another? Wouldn’t that world be a better place where there is no more racism, homophobia and discrimination of any sort? I don’t know about you but that sounds like a perfect world to me. That is why I wholly understand what my friend is fighting for. More importantly we should all fight for the same thing!

By the way, another proponent of nudist rights in Sydney brought the battle to a whole new (political) level–if you think Singapore is not ready to promote naturism then I am not sure how this guy would fit into that narrow-minded picture. And they would certainly go crazy if they were to ever visit this gym or the French town of Cap d'Agde–I would want to visit that town at least once in my lifetime.

Well on a final note, I would like to re-iterate that I do understand that naturism is not everyone’s cup of tea but so is homosexuality–does it then mean that we should deny them rights or worse still make them criminals? I certainly applaud those responsible for the recent surge in public nudity cases in Singapore. Live and let live–that is how we make the world a better place. If I have even successfully fed you some food for thought with this post then I think I would sleep happy tonight.

Here are two pictures from the nudist events I have previously attended.

Leaving Fort Road Beach in Singapore after a free-and-easy afternoon

River Island Nature Retreat in Mittagong, NSW with my NUDU mates


Groyn88 said...

Thanks for a very interesting read, Kim.
Here is an illustrated article entitled "Nudism in Singapore" I wrote some time ago:

Kim said...

Hey, great article you wrote there and keep up the good fight Roy!!

peace said...

for some reasons, i was reminded of your post when i reflected about fort road. something to share here..

and a couple more posts on the place, and the people too.


Kim said...

Hey peace, great article on Fort Road. I really miss my short time there being one with nature with good friends (before I moved to Australia). That's how life should be, carefree and nude!