Vintage Season, 2017 (Part 2)

Part 1 of our vintage season was published away back in March. There hasn’t been a part two (or beyond) since then due to the usual distraction factors. We write about something else…the RL European naturist season occupies us, a whole variety of reasons.

But in the meantime I’ve been stockpiling some vintage related posts and adding as I’v gone along.

I still think there’s a beautiful innocence (yet daring aspect) to retro/vintage nude photography, a theory I’ll expand on throughout this post.

Received wisdom might be that, 100 years ago, ‘good girls didn’t’, while the photography of the era suggests that good girls could and did pose for nude photography. Again, received wisdom is that some historical nude photography would have featured prostitutes, who certainly did. But the vast amount of that photography that exists suggests that it wasn’t just prostitutes who’d pose for a few francs or Deutschmarks, but that good girls could be persuaded to take their clothes off for the camera too.

Many early naturists have been photographed throughout the years, in an era when it was a bit more daring to be involved in such a thing than it is now. Clubs operated under secrecy, often, and there’s evidence of members being known to each other under their nom-de-nu, if I can call it that, or being attributed a name steeped in classicalism. Thus you’d have people called Calliope or Thespis. 

Thespis was a Greek dramatist, I think, from which we get the word ‘thespian’, to denote an actor. And Calliope was said to possess a beautiful voice.

So at your interview to join a nudist club (yes, you were interviewed at length, depth and with some vigour), you’d be asked about other pursuits. You didn’t need to be an opera singer to be attributed the name ‘Calliope’, for example. Being in the local church choir, and therefore a singer, might get you that name. It was all about guesswork, assuming you even could be bothered guessing, about other club members.

With naturism becoming a lifestyle (in Germany, certainly) in years just after the Victorian attitudes that prevailed across Europe, not just in England, and when the sight of an ankle was ‘shocking’, stripping fully nude was a radical act, and one that history records as being more the preserve of a radical middle class than the working classes.

The author Virginia Woolf went skinny dipping with poet Rupert Brooke in 1911, for example. These are the sort of people for whom skinny dipping would have been an attractive, radical idea amongst the middle classes or the intelligentsia.

That’s not to say that skinny dipping didn’t occur in the working classes. There’s also evidence of street urchins swimming naked in reservoirs around London, simply because swimming costumes were an expensive, unnecessary luxury.

But both classes approached the concept from different angles.

The whole sense of Greco-Roman classicism also fed into nude photography. Almost certainly all produced for the early pornography trade, it nonetheless can be seen to be feeding backwards and forwards into some aspects of the values of the early naturists.


There’s plenty of evidence of photography mimicking that classical style, with women (and men) dressed up in a certain way to look Greco-Roman. I’m guessing that, while this was definitely part of the general education of the middle classes, well versed in classicalism, around Europe, there might also have been a sense of ‘mounting a defence’ against the authorities. What better way to throw one’s hands up and say ‘it isn’t pornography, Constable, it’s a depiction of life in the days of Rome (or Sparta, or ancient Athens).

Let’s look at this : publishing a magazine called ‘The Greco-Roman Lifestyle’ (all well documented in literature) stood a better chance in court than publishing the same photos in a magazine called ‘Naked Women’ or, worse, ‘Naked Prostitutes paid to pose’!

Astonishing numbers of early 20th century nude photographs feature models pose in all manner of classical poses, draped in something diaphanous, across chaises longues, and with various classical ‘props’.

Many esteemed, celebrated photographers earned a reputation in this sort of work.

While all of the photographs in the post thus far feature women, the male was just as readily photographed in similar poses and props.


I’m not an expert on pornography by any stretch of the imagination, but from what I know of it, exclusively as a result of researching this blog (porn never held any appeal to me), it appears that almost all pornography -oral sex, penetrative sex, heterosexual and gay sex, was pretty much codified in image 100+ years ago (longer if we factor in painting and figurative art as accurate description). Images of which are readily available on the internet. It’s beyond the remit of this blog, and not something that excites me, so if you wish to explore more…explore it at your own leisure.

Note how, in many of the photos, the (French) word ‘artistique’ appears.

 

Much of what we know today was codified 100 years ago, and hasn’t changed.

I’m not adding any SL related content to this post on the basis that there’s a few more Vintage Season posts to follow, and SLN has got models and photographers out there inworld replicating RL for SL as I type…

I’ll be picking this up over the weekend with ‘Vintage Season Part 3’ (and beyond) and I intend to focus on ‘the vintage’ between now and the end of the month.

After that…it’ll be all manner of SL freebie goodies (in a naturist context) being blogged.

Ella

 

 

‘I dare you’

A flurry of recent ‘My first time’ contributions got me thinking. Looking back over some of those posts, it’s clear that for many of us there’s an element of initial ‘dare’ about our first exposure in public. This doesn’t have to be a direct ‘I dare you’ approach, but can manifest itself in different ways.

The most recent ‘My first time’ contribution from Deborah suggests she didn’t want to appear prudish or embarrassed, and thus dove into the experience head first. My own naturist debut was a little bit similar.

Peer pressure.

So I made up a notecard which I distributed inworld to SL friends (who have identified as naturist in RL…some of my SL friends are only SL naturists) asking two simple questions.

Did your first publicly nude experience have anything to do with peer pressure? Were you dared directly to participate in some sort of naked group activity?

If the answer to either was ‘yes’, I then asked those friends to describe the circumstances.

It’s not exactly scientific, but my Vox pop certainly revealed that it was the actions or words of others that resulted in some form of public nudity.

Over the years, society has changed. Nowadays, from Roskilde Nude runs to WNBR bike rides to Tunick photo shoots to ‘naked charity calendars’, there’s all manner of events where people who don’t identify as naturist can go naked in public, often for the first time.

‘I’ve seen Spencer Tunick (or WNBR or charity fund raising skinny dip) is coming to our town. I’ll sign up if you will’ being the kind of situation that is growing ever more familiar to us.

 

Digital photography and the internet have been a game-changer. It used to be that someone might have flashed their boobs and there was no record of it, other than in the memory of those who did it and those who witnessed it.

She looks embarrassed


I suppose Polaroid cameras were the first instance of people being able to snap other people privately, and from simple nudes, to dressing to bathing or posing shots, the thing then developed where it might be a bit more of an integral part of people’s love lives. Sex acts could be captured on film without any need for third party development. And people got to be rather more relaxed about nude photos of themselves being taken. Of course this was still the pre-internet era, so there was no real method of distribution.

My nude debut, 1995, comes somewhere on the borderline between instant cameras going into decline and new digital cameras becoming more affordable. I took a camera on that holiday where I made my nude debut, and I’ve still got some photos from the holiday, but I certainly wouldn’t have dreamed of taking photos of other naturists, or my cousin taking photos of me, and handing that in to be developed. Which is a shame. I’d have loved to have had the photos now. A couple of years earlier and I might have opted for the then popular instant camera, and a couple of years later might have opted to buy a digital one. But I fell between the two stools.

 

Photography didn’t really come into my radar. A film with 24 frames on it would certainly have fulfilled an entire week’s holiday anywhere in those days. ‘Here’s the Parthenon, here’s the Eiffel Tower, here’s Big Ben’ was my approach to photographic memories back then.

But the world has changed beyond recognition. Now, we’ll take 100 photos of the Eiffel Tower and maybe keep them all. Or select one or two of the best, often tweaked on the computer, for printing.

And with that, our approach to photography, and specifically the naked body within it, has altered.

The early days of digital (or Polaroid) would have found the subject slightly squeamish as a result. Embarrassed, frankly. But now in the era of ‘the naked selfie’, anything goes, particularly people’s reluctance to see their own image (dressed or undressed).

People are more amenable to taking their own photo, or allowing someone else to take it in an unclothed state. People are taking them to share them. A poll suggests 90% of millennials take naked selfies.

And as the poll makes clear, don’t regret it and would do it again. There’s certainly a sea change in attitude there.

People are prouder of their naked bodies, and more confident in them, than in previous generations.

Which brings us to the point of the article. More confident, or ’empowered’ as they call it now, people are more willing to sign up to various ‘nude’ events.

When I was in my teens I suppose the big dare would be to go on holiday with friends, usually a bunch of female friends, and ‘go topless’, egged on by the rest of the group, and it will be on one of these friends holidays where many women of my generation and older first went bare breasted. And usually in circumstances where one would do it, thus encouraging or pressurising the others to follow suit or be thought of as a bad sport. ‘I dare you…’, in effect.

I’d say a majority of women in Europe, at least, have sunbathed topless (even if it’s only on holiday) to the point where it’s practically the norm for women to say they have at some point gone topless.

Ironically, it’s the arrival of digital technology and the internet that is leading to fewer women going topless. ‘Bare breasts are fine…and I’ll show mine…but I don’t want them on the internet’.

France is experiencing a downturn in the numbers going topless, probably as a result of the explosion in technology and the possibility of being photographed topless (or nude) on holiday as much as the other reasons the link offers. Denmark is experiencing the same downturn in toplessness.

Skin cancer risk is offered as one reason for this, plus body consciousness where ‘nothing less than perfect’ can be bared. What’s your definition of ‘perfect’? For me, it’s a healthy person, not some unrealistic ‘perfection’ perpetuated by the media.

I can understand the skin cancer risk in France. It’s a little less understandable from a British perspective, where the sun is something of a rarity.

I’ve drifted off topic again. Back to the idea of ‘dare’.

It seems that millennials, if they aren’t going topless on the beach, are at least up for embracing a bit of public nudity.

The chance to be part of a Tunick photoshoot…

…or a WNBR bike ride…

…or a charity skinny dip…

…or a charity calendar…


…more and more people are taking the opportunity to embrace communal, public nudity events, and for many participants their presence will have been the result of a friend saying ‘I dare you…’ or ‘I will if you will…’

While there’s no chance of skin cancer in SL, Judy sensibly follows her own RL ethos and sits in the shade.

We can but hope that embracing public nudity once, many participants will enjoy the freedom nudity brings, and eventually this will feed into them then exploring and embracing naturism. In many naturist circumstances, there is no requirement to be ‘perfect’ (as Danish commentators have suggested is a reason), or fear of being photographed in closed swims or landed clubs. And while the skin cancer risk is clearly there, some sensible precautions mean that one can minimise the risk. Perhaps if someone comes to you with an ‘I dare you’ or ‘I will if you will’ idea, you and they may eventually enjoy the freedom naturism can bring.

Ella

 

Hey Ella! Have you ever….

When SL was younger than it is now, every log in was a challenge in reaching a log out without having been propositioned to bump pixels, asked for RL photos, to voice, or answer questions of a most personal kind.

SL has grown up, and its users with it. I’m sure there’s as much of the above going on as ever, it’s just that those sort of locations (or people) aren’t generally on my radar. So those sort of idiotic avatars and the questions they ask (sure, I’ll spend Linden dollars to upload nude pix of myself and send them to you because, hey, I’m really getting a good deal out of that, aren’t I? And no, no dick pix in return) have generally shrivelled away to nothing.

Sometimes I get asked personal questions in the context of naturism. That’s fine. Sometimes I’ve even made a blog post out of them, i.e. have I ever seen an erection on a naturist beach? No, never.

Other times…no, those questions are of a personal nature and definitely not part of naturist culture, so they’re off the agenda.

For example, I still occasionally get asked about my sex life. That’s not part of my naturism, and the blog’s about naturism, body acceptance and the culture around it. Other than the fact that I’ve taken maternity leave away from the blog during its lifetime, from which you may deduce I do have a sex life, everything else is off limits. I’ve blogged that I’ve got three children…from which you may deduce that unless I’ve had IVF treatment -something I might actually have blogged about- then I’ve had sex at least three times in my life! 🙂

But fellas -it’s always fellas- other than that, forget it. It’s not part of the remit of this blog, and it’s none of your damned business inworld either.

 

My first time : the Finnish sauna

When I was at school we had a foreign exchange cultural holiday, writes guest columnist Deborah, when a class from Finland came to our school for a week and, later, we returned to stay with them for a week. We’d put up a student at home when they were here in England, and we’d stay with their families when we got back to [I’ve opted to omit the name of the place : Ella] their home town.

I’d made friends with Katja, we’re still friends even now, and have each attended the other’s wedding.

Our class were all 17 turning 18 at the time and we were farmed out to the various families after the first day sitting in classes with our chosen partner.

We arrived on a Monday, and the week progressed as normal until Friday night when Katja’s Mum announced it was sauna night in the household. I looked through the window to see Katja’s Dad and brother firing up the sauna at the bottom of their garden, and the water of the lake at the bottom of the garden shimmering beyond.

‘Oh’, I blurted out. ‘We weren’t advised to bring swimming costumes with us’.

Katja and her Mum exchanged glances. ‘There is no need. We go naked in the sauna’

Everyone? Even in the course of the five days so far I’d fallen a little bit in love with Katja’s gorgeous looking, tall, lean brother. And he was going to go naked in the sauna????

‘Maybe you don’t know the Finnish sauna culture…if you don’t wish to go, it’s OK. You’ll be OK here in the house by yourself. We’re just at the bottom of the garden…’

No, no, no! I protested. A little bit of me didn’t want to appear like a prudish, uptight Brit. A little bit of me was excited by the whole idea.

In due course, Katja’s Dad and brother came back into the house and the ladies explained I’d join them. Katja’s Dad nodded and then went off to get me a sauna hat.

It looked ridiculous, but it was explained that it’s made of felt, is a good insulator, and would therefore keep my head at a better temperature if I was unused to the heat, as the head heats quicker than the rest of the body and can lead to overheating.

I was also handed a towel to wrap myself in if I felt shy or embarrassed, and to sit on in any case.

Everyone then disappeared off to their various bedrooms to strip off. I felt a huge lump in my throat as I took my clothes off, and wrapped myself in a really large bath towel. As we were undressing, Katja was explaining the finer points of sauna etiquette. I stood there swathed in a towel while she stood confidently naked in front of me.

 

If I was feeling a little uncertain, it got immediately worse when Katja’s brother casually walked into the room stark naked, a towel slung over his shoulder. He spoke to Katja, something along the lines of ‘are you girls ready?’ and we trooped downstairs, out of the back door and down the garden to the sauna hut.

Here in the UK, some houses share a driveway, with garages built separately around the back. Some houses share a common front door before separating into different dwellings. I was about to learn that, while houses had individual sauna huts on their property, just beyond lay a shared jetty. With lots of lakes around, boating seemed to be a popular pastime, and houses would share a jetty where they could (a) tie up their boats if they owned them (Katja’s family didn’t) and (b) use it to make their way down to the lake and jump in after the sauna. Apparently it’s beneficial health wise, closing the skin’s pores after they’ve sweated out life’s impurities.

Katja’s Mum, fully nude, stopped to talk to her clothed male neighbour before entering the hut, something that totally blew my mind! Could I imagine causually chatting with a clothed neighbour while naked in England? No way!

It was exceptionally hot in there. At first I was just blown away by the casual family nudity. I thought of my own family and how none of us would be brave enough to do such a thing. But that doesn’t reckon for the long Finnish tradition of sauna, where familial nudity is commonplace from birth.

I eventually dispensed with a sat on the towel. It felt strange, exciting but totally non-sexual. It was weird to be sat naked amongst relative strangers. The sauna was a lovely experience, but I couldn’t last in there as long as the rest of the family. Eventually Katja and I had to run the length of the jetty and leap into freezing water. It was summer but still felt freezing cold.

I loved it, though! Just the whole sauna experience and culture. By the time I was drying myself off with my towel it felt like the most natural thing in the world. Something I wanted to do again. A year later, I would do it again, travelling to stay with Katja, not as part of school, but a private holiday. School was out and daylight went on past midnight in that northern latitude. The second time Katja’s parents were out, she invited some friends over, her brother invited some friends over, and we had a sauna followed by a communal skinny dip, BBQ and drinking some vodka. Again, there was much communal, casual nudity, but the whole thing was entirely non-sexual. Even their friends who were boyfriend and girlfriend remained much more ‘hands off’ with each other than I’d have expected in a similar situation, even a dressed occasion, in England.


What I’ve never done, but want to do in the future, is experience a Nordic winter and maybe roll in the snow after the sauna rather than leap into the lake. I think that would be so cool!

A fully nude Katja takes her place in the sauna while an initially covered Deborah sits lower, where it’s cooler.

Debs initial misgivings about being naked in front of the first naked man she’s ever seen are soon forgotten as they run to the jetty

Deborah

(Credits : thanks to SL avatars Henry [Katja’s brother], Dolores [playing Deborah] and Anne [playing the role of Katja] in the SL photos above. Photographs were taken by me, Ella)

Indoni : their heritage, their pride

While the computer is back up and running fine, I lost all my bookmarks during my ‘crash’. That’s not as critical as it sounds as I, like many of you, visit the same sites again and again, so getting them on screen and marked again is a relatively easy job.

It’s a bit more difficult with many of the photo sites, many Tumblr sites, I visit for material to illustrate the blog. I don’t know the names of any of them, so rebuilding that links page has been this afternoon’s task.

While that’s been a bit of a tedious task, leaving me cursing Apple’s ill-fated ‘upgrade’, it has turned out to be a bit of a blessing in other ways. I’ve had to seek out pages, rather than just use my ‘go to’ pages, and this has led to me discovering new pages that differ, a little, from the tried and trusted sites.

And so it was that I landed on the Indoni. My heritage. My Pride site. This is a South African ‘beauty pageant’, of sorts, with the emphasis on men and women expressing their pride in their cultural history.

bnCultureSchool

This means connecting with the traditions of various African tribes, and as you can see from the photo above, it means routine ‘toplessness’ for many of the tribes involved.

I explored further, because recognition of cultural diversity is important to me, in the context of both the real world and Second Life. There’s far too much homogenisation of the world, and the loss of tribal cultures is being keenly felt around the globe. Not just in places like Africa or South America, but in Europe too, where regional cultures, languages, cuisine, dress and so on are being squeezed out.

 

To see people take pride in their cultural heritage is encouraging.

There used to be a time when SL was more culturally diverse than it is now, and I have a couple of SL friends who tried to promote their ethnic heritage within the game, but report that it has become more difficult in recent years due to the lack of clothing available, hairstyles, and sims on which to live and promote their ethnic heritage. I’ll be examining that in a subsequent post.

Ella

11am on the 11th of the 11th.

alison cemetery2_001_PES_20171111c

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

***

At 11am on the 11th of November, 1918, World War 1, ‘the war to end all wars’, ended.

Here in the UK and in Commonwealth nations, that war, the subsequent WW2, and all conflagrations since, are remembered on this, Remembrance Day.

The symbol of Remembrance is symbolised with the wearing of a poppy, a flower that grew freely on the battlefields of France and Belgium, its blood red colour recalling the blood lost on those battlefields.

No excuses for this being a non-naturist post. It’s a day of sombre reflection in the UK and Commonwealth nations, as well as recalling others, the Irish soldiers, the Czechoslovakian and Polish pilots of the RAF, who fought to overcome the scourge of fascism.

Our world is increasingly divided and the ugly face of fascism is sometimes seen as being on the rise again. That must be opposed in all shapes and forms. Today, of all days, we recollect the ultimate price paid by so many to make our world a free world, and give thanks for the sacrifice they made.

We will remember them.

Ella

The High Sierras

Thank goodness for back up files!

This week I got notification of a new update for my Mac, High Sierra. I’ve never had any issues with Apple before, thought nothing of it, clicked ‘OK’ and…

…a few minutes later I was looking at over £1000 worth of scrap electronics!

The update had failed and reduced my computer to…nothing!

Fortunately one of my friends is a computer whizz, and he had it up and running again the following night (yesterday). All of WordPress is online, so nothing lost on the blog ; all the drafts of ‘work in progress’ are there. Most of my stuff was backed up. I back up everything once a month, sometimes more frequently. But I’ve lost some photos taken since October 23rd…about two weeks worth of stuff. Disappointing but not too heart-rending. Of course, I’ve no had to begin ‘rebuilding’ the programs on the computer (easy enough, but time-consuming) as the computer was made to re-work by ‘downgrading’ back to the previous ‘Sierra’ OS.

So that will be occupying me a bit over the weekend. In fact, it’s probably a good thing, ultimately, as nothing ‘crucial’ was lost (a lot of personal photos mostly, but I can back those up from camera HD disks in due course)

So there may not be the usual slew of weekend posts this weekend. Of course I’ve numerous ‘works in progress’, but it’ll be a balancing act between finishing those off and getting my computer back to how I like and know it.

Bear (bare!) with me while I get it up to speed again.

Ella