Ella: Do you consider yourself to be a naturist, Sue?
Xiu Mei: No. I’ve visited naturist beaches in SL, but it’s not something that is part of my every day SL existence.
Ella: But you don’t mind posing nude for SL Naturist?
Xiu Mei: No. I’m against censorship and, more importantly, the subjugation of women, so when I see these sorts of things going on in -in inverted commas- ‘my country’, then I’m open to the idea of making a little stand against those attitudes against women, primarily, and the attitudes that reflect freedom for all mankind.
Ella: ‘My country’ in inverted commas. Can you explain?
Xiu Mei: I’m Hong Kong Chinese, or more specifically, half-Chinese. My mother is HK Chinese, my father was part of the British presence in Hong Kong. He’s a retired Royal Hong Kong Police officer. I grew up there, but we came to Britain (Britain left HK in 1997) after it was handed back to the Chinese. So I grew up in a middle area. Most of my friends were Chinese, and I grew up with that culture, and feeling Chinese more than British. Of course, fifteen years later, just about half my life, I feel more British in a daily sense, but still feel Chinese. It’s kinda hard to explain.
Ella: I noticed you weren’t wearing an Asian avi.
Xiu Mei: They’re expensive, and don’t look overly Chinese, or Asian. So I use what is probably intended to be a ‘white’ skn, and tweaked the eyes for a more oriental look. It probably reflects my reality a little bit.
Ella: So you still have links to Hong Kong?
Xiu Mei: Lots! I have friends there, and aunts and cousins. I’ve returned several times and did actually consider taking a job there about three years ago. I keep in touch, both with real, breathing links to it, and also following news feeds or listening to the radio via the internet.
Ella: I explained about the Ai Weiwei situation. How do you feel about that?
Xiu Mei: That’s Communist China for you! At least, that’s what I’d assume to be a prevalent attitude.
Ella: What do you think of the photograph?
Xiu Mei: It’s hardly ‘pornographic’, as claimed. It’s hard to determine the women’s ages, but it’s really quite sweet. The lady standing looks like my Mom! It looks like a celebration of life, of humanity, to me. And the attitude that this is dirty, or disgusting, made me want to pose for SL Naturist, just as a way of expressing my solidarity for the rights of all of the names you’ve told me about.
Ella: OK, let’s get down to business then! How did you feel about posing?
Xiu Mei: I’ve had my clothes off in SL before! I’m comfortable with it in the right circumstances, but I’ve not wandered too many nudist beaches. A little bit at the start of my Second Life, but not so much recently. It was quite liberating!
Ella: Would it encourage you to visit SL naturist sims?
Xiu Mei: It’s not something that has formed part of my SL much until now, but I wouldn’t be horrified by the prospect. I’m unlikely to explore the idea much, I think, unless I were to meet friends who used those sims, or I got an invite, or I met a guy who embraced the idea.
Ella: Do you think attitudes in China will change as a result of the Ai Weiwei and Zhao Zhao situation?
Xiu Mei: I doubt it. But I think we must be expressive in our demands to say ‘this is art’ and support the publication of photographs like this. Of course, it’s less to do with art and more to do with freedoms. The Chinese fear personal freedoms. OK, there’s a huge dichotomy within the country. The likes of Shanghai and HK would have thriving sex industries, porn, all manner of western sexual freedoms, but it isn’t the reality for the overwhelming majority of the nation, and particularly the nation’s women.
Ella: Sue, it has been a pleasure talking to you and I’d like to thank you, personally and on behalf of SL Naturist’s readership, for taking part in our photoshoot.
Xiu Mei: It was fun, thanks for inviting me, and it was great to make a little SL stand and a reflection of RL censorship and sort of interact with events in the real world.
(Xiu Mei Ohmai was talking to Ella via inworld chatlogs, and IMs and notecards. Please note you can click on the thumbnails to make the pictures larger)