We do try to keep, ahem, abreast of nude news around the globe, and let this inform how we approach the blog, both in the ‘magazine’ posts and the stand alone posts. Our SL naturist activities may be steered slightly to reflect what’s going on in the wonderful world of RL naturism.
I was therefore exceptionally interested in this article, which promotes the health giving benefits of naturism. While one or two of the points raised may be debatable, I’m not sure comparing the naked rat with a furry rat has any scientific basis at all, there are some thought-provoking points raised. Certainly the point about Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, being much more readily absorbed (just don’t overdo it and burn the skin!) is valid. And the point about naturists being much more tolerant is probably equally valid.
The article is certainly worth a read if you want to set your brain off on certain avenues of thought.
I have to say that I regard naturism as easily lending itself to a healthy lifestyle. It can often revolve around good, healthy eating, exposure to the benefits of sunshine (but be careful out there!) and lots of exercise. I don’t mean that we suddenly become gym-freaks, but it leans towards plenty of swimming, walking, sometimes cycling, and then there’s nude hiking for the particularly active. Below, naturist Karen shows us the way at Eden’s Outdoor Gym.
First, some sit ups
Then some one armed press-ups
And then some weights! (This looks like hard work!)
‘Warming down’ with some yoga
And finally a nice shower. I’m just feeling tired watching Karen work out!
We’ve all seen the photos and heard the story. 30,000 virgins dance for the King of Swaziland in a ritual stretching back decades.
It creates the impression that the country is a haven of bare-breasted beauties, despite there being evidence that, culturally, Swaziland is a nation in which a modest form of public dress is encouraged, to the point where there has been an effort to ban miniskirts.
Part of the argument appears to run that in a country where there is an HIV epidemic, something has to be done to discourage rape and, thus, the spread of the disease. I can’t say I’m fully conversant with the facts, the background, or the attitudes of men in the country to rape, so it would be remiss of me to pass judgement.
What I will say is that in the likes of Lobambo, the capital, women are much more likely to be wearing ‘western’ style clothes, whether ‘immodest’ or not, and in the rural areas, where traditional dress prevails to some extent, that traditional dress leans more in the direction of modesty.
The ‘bare breasted beauty’ is, therefore, somewhat of a myth, the Reed Dance apart.
In that context, it would appear that being topless isn’t a fixture of the culture, and that it only becomes a matter of public acceptance in the context of the Reed Dance, a ritual in which young girls dance for the king.
Look at the photos carefully and you’ll find a mixture of traditional/tribal hairstyles and modern western ones, alongside mobile phones (cellphones) and modern sunglasses. And into this mix comes the ready acceptance -if only for the duration of the dance itself- a quiet acceptance that toplessness is acceptable.
Interestingly, the image above, of white girls in a sort of tribal attire, shows them covering up. I’m not sure whether this indicates different attitudes apply, or if this is actually from the Swaziland reed dance, or some replication of it.
Our ‘profile star’ in this issue, Mtendere, did a photoshoot in a more westernised style on the profile page, but we also managed to get her to pose in Massai costume (it was available from Peace & LOL, which no longer seems to exist). A male version is also pictured, featuring one of Mtendere’s friends.
Mtendere says ‘these outfits are from a time when there was much more cultural diversity available in SL, and when it was possible to live life as an African, in African sims. I mourn the loss of such locations.’
It looks as though a ready acceptance of toplessness -or full nudity- outside the context of naturism, has taken a backwards step in SL, and it doesn’t look like anytime soon that we could see Swaziland’s Reed Dance, or an approximation of it, take place in SL.
It has been my long-held belief that naturism is closely connected to ‘hippy’ values, tolerance, respect, ‘peace and love’ and that sort of thing.
And, yes, a bit of ‘skinny dipping’ or public nudity is often part of the rock festival landscape.
Skinny dipping at the lake, Woodstock Festival
Hippy couple at Woodstock, 1969
Naked girl feels the vibes, Woodstock, 1969
The innocence of those times, a feeling that the music and the counter-culture held a power that pointed the way forward for society as a whole is maybe reflected in the cover to the ‘Woodstock Two’ album (above), featuring a bunch of naked children on a rock stage. Not a scene that is particularly favoured today, given the manner in which the magical innocence of the 1960s has been swallowed up in a much darker era we live in today. For that reason we’ve deliberately blurred the cover.
One of the places I’ve indulged myself in naturism is at the naturist beach close to the mountain-side village of Mojacar in Spain, a place popularised by hippies and artists in the 1960s. At least, popularised in the modern era, it has been inhabited since the times before Christ. And I can see how it still continues to operate as a magnet for those wishing to pursue an alternative lifestyle. Along with rabbit-warren streets filled with art shops in the village of Mojacar itself, you can sweep down to the sea past alternative lifestyle shops and galleries before immersing yourself, naked, in the warm Mediterranean Sea. An oasis of calm far, far away from the high-rise apartment blocks of Malaga and Marbella further along the coast. In fact, I’ve long held the hope that, one day, I’ll be able to operate my own small sim in SL, and ‘Mojacar’ is the location on which it will be based. That said, to some extent, there’s no need, as Tess’s Naked Dreams sim (part of the Eden estate) does replicate it to a small degree…a series of apartments on a hillside, in white.
I note that the Russians, having missed out on the Woodstock vibe first time around, have in recent years established the Empty Hills festival. A fair bit of communal nudity appears to be part of the landscape there, too.
(Above: two scenes from the ‘Empty Hills’ festival held in the Kaluga Oblast or Koblensk Oblast regions or Russia)
With this in mind, I decided to embark on a ‘hippy trail’ in SL. Call it my ‘gap year’, or ‘backpacking year’, if you will :). The rule was to simply immerse myself in the concept of counter-culture ideals, and follow a course through SL where hippy ideals, including nudity (if not naturism) was part of the landscape.
Deciding to take the trip ‘in character’, I bought one or two pieces of wardrobe, strapped a guitar across my back and set off, an SL search immediately leading me to ‘The Commune’, a counter-culture sim with its own blog, which you can read here. The sim is run by Sedi, and she writes the accompanying blog too, and appears very pro-active in coming up with fresh, new and exciting ideas to give the sim some pizazz on a regular basis. I like this idea very much. Sedi has drilled down to a specific theme, is open to ideas from users within the broad boundaries of that theme, and both sim and blog fully embrace the ideals of that theme -a kind of alternative lifestlye focus.
I guess that naturism within SL is like that too. It’s a specific lifestyle, and this blog and a couple of others by sim owners (I’m thinking Brenda, Tess and Gray for Eden, Naked Dreams and Su Casa respectively here) drill down into that chosen lifestyle and stay focused on it.
What I like about Sedi’s blog is that she’s externally linking to items out there in the real world, suggesting books to read about the counter-culture and so on, so that there is ‘homework’ of sorts for blog-readers, and they can immerse themselves fully in that counter-cultural lifestyle and familiarise themselves with ideas and concepts surrounding that lifestyle.
So it has been, recently, with this blog, as we’ve stepped beyond the boundaries of just SL naturism, to blur the edges between what’s inworld, and what’s out there in the real world. This issue of SLN, Issue 9, attempts to do the same and it’s a theme we’ll pursue and develop in the future.
Of course, it’s not new, either to Sedi or ourselves to take this approach. When I first came into SL five years ago there was a much greater sense of ‘education’ on the grid, with various RL entities having a virtual presence. That’s much less common now, but perhaps the pendulum is swinging back again. While some sims may be issue-driven (the like of the Palestinian sim springs to mind), generally SL’s ‘educational’ aspect has diminished. But hopefully, with the likes of Sedi blogging ‘the counter culture’ and this blog focusing on a specific lifestyle and attempting to educate on the matter to some degree, we can now see some fresh shoots of education re-appear in SL. Of course, as a caveat I have to say there has always been an educational presence in some respects inworld, so please don’t write to tell me that x, y or z have maintained an educational inworld and blog presence for 10 years! 🙂
The Commune isn’t a naturist sim, but certainly looks as though it is exceptionally naturist friendly. 🙂 We like this!
A game of ‘Truth or Dare’ at The Commune ends up with everyone naked 🙂
© Sedi http://scribbling-sedi.blogspot.co.uk
I think we should like to explore the whole hippy ideal a little bit further in SLN.
You would have imagined, now that we’re into the second decade of the 21st century, that the ‘topless’ debate, which probably began in the early 60s, with Rudi Gernreich’s monokini, would have been won, lost, done and dusted by now. The debate’s now 50 years, half a century, old!
Peggy Moffitt modelling Rudi Gernreich’s monokini, 1963
Throughout the 1960s we had ‘women’s lib’, and ‘bra burning’ (although that was a nice conflation, in the context of the times, relating to draft card burning in protest at the Vietnam War, and an echo from the 1870s, when Elizabeth Stuart Phelps urged women to burn their whalebone corsets).
Yet the debate rages on, and in some ways has become front line news again, with the actions of the Femen group (whom we’ve referenced on the blog before), and the actions of the likes of Moira Johnson, who regularly appears topless in New York as a form of feminist action to highlight inequality. She has a Facebook and tumblr web presence, for those who wish to connect via these things.
Moira Johnston topless on the streets of NYC
Even in a non-sexual context (and topless sunbathing or publicly topless, as in Moira Johnston’s case, must surely be seen as non-sexual), with breasts being utilised for the purpose for which they exist -child feeding, there’s still a collective intake of breath from the patriarchal society which seeks to keep them hidden, undercover and out of sight. Various countries have different approaches to the issue of breastfeeding in public, with ‘the developed and allegedly ‘civilised’ West some distance behind ‘the Third World’.
‘Breastfeeding and human lactation’, a book by Jan Riordan, claims that in the likes of Saudi Arabia it is not uncommon for a veiled mother to freely and openly breast feed her child. (see pic, below)
Other countries, such as India, where public nudity might be frowned upon, take an equally enlightened view to public breastfeeding.
Attitudes to public toplessness, dress and ‘immodesty’ in Swaziland, to take one example, are varied according to context, and the foreigner’s perception of ‘the Reed Dance’ are such that I’ve written a separate article on this, found in SLN9, here.
‘Topless’ is now widely accepted at beaches all over the world. And not before time!
But what about the street?
Or in an airport?
I think the problem with ‘topless’ in certain locations is that it remains unsuitable (just as males with their shirts off is unsuitable in some situations). I’m not convinced Moira Johnson’s activism is ‘suitable’ in the context of shopping, but it’s important to realise that it’s activism like hers that pushes the argument to the forefront of debate. Only by doing what she does will that debate be move forward so that women have the fundamental right to be topless, if they so wish, in locations that are suitable -swimming pools, beaches, sunbathing in a public park.
It’s a difficult debate to grasp properly. On one hand, breasts remain sexualised by (male) society. We de-sexualise them, to a degree, by making them more visible, everywhere, and so men don’t take that ‘phoaar!!!! titties!!!’ approach that they currently do. But in the long run we don’t want to see nipples, male or female, in the checkout queue at Walmart/Lidl’s/Tescos, do we?
In what will become something of a ‘theme’ in magazine issues of SLN, we’ll take a whistle-stop tour around the main SL naturist sims on a regular basis, report on any recent changes to them, and get our intrepid photographers to document life on those sims 🙂
I have to say that it’s terrific to tp into any of our favourite naturist sims and find plenty of activity taking place. Is it because it’s summer? Is it just an organic build up of avatars discovering, liking and returning to a place? Is it a salutory lesson for sim builders that if you stick with your vision you will build an audience? Are too many people building sims, failing to find an audience immediately and giving up on their dream?
Either we’ve missed it before, or it’s new, but the Eden Tiercel sim is new to us. That’s the great thing about Eden. It is so vast that there’s always something new to discover each time you visit. I can pretty much guarantee dropping in, wandering around and finding something new and exciting to enjoy.
You may have noticed photos credited to Diane Toxx. Diane is our new SLN staff photographer (don’t worry, Harry’s still going to be contributing! 🙂 ) and we’ll be introducing Diane fully in a subsequent SLN post. One of the great things about having her on board is that she’s been exploring the various sims with fresh eyes, and maybe spotting things we take for granted. In the two photos above, taken at Su Casa, she’s explored the little island off the main part of Su Casa.
7 Hills re-opened a while back. In its former guise it was legendary, and it rather looks as though the aim is to build up the sim, slowly and surely. There are lots of recent additions to it, including the barbecue area and the bar. These new developments are well worth checking out.
Reporting by Pookes, Barbara and Ella.
One of the people I’ve had as a friend, pretty much the entire length of my SL, is Justine. Unfortunately, she’s an irregular user, partly a result of the job she does in RL, one that will involve long hours and regular periods away from her computer.
But she’s an interesting character, as she is pretty much ‘living the dream’ many naturists would like to live.
What follows is an interview, or series of interviews/IMs, that have been conducted over many months (the initial plan was to have her profiled in SLN5! : Ella) and involved me ‘interviewing’ her off and on, and eventually getting her online long enough to conduct a photo session for us.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself first.
Q: Which is what makes you such an interesting person for us to interview. What do you do, and how did you get into that?
J: I won’t say what it is I do now. The fact that I’m English, and working in a very small sector means that it would be relatively easy to track me down in RL, so you’ll forgive me for not giving my current employment. What I will say is that I’ve previously been office staff for a naturist publication and worked for a naturist holiday business that went out of business a while back. I’ve also been part of the staff in a couple of naturist campsites in France, and worked in a restaurant in a naturist location in Spain. I’m not sure how I got into it. I grew up naturist. My parents were naturist. My father has passed away, but my mother would still head for the beaches given half a chance, and she’s in her 70s now. I was just in the right place at the right time. I asked for a job and got it. Everything else has followed off that.
J: Yes. We operate in the season from Easter until the end of October. I’m trying to squeeze a year’s salary into 6-7 months work, so yes, long hours and hard work and not much time off. But it means I can indulge in a lifestyle I adore.
Pookes interviews Justine in the cool air of the church at ‘Naked Dreams’
J: Home is Spain now. I would imagine Spain will always be home from now on. I really can’t see myself returning to England. I’m essentially unemployed in the winter months, so my daily naturism would be the indoor pool at the complex I live on. A daily swim and occasionally days that are warm enough to permit a bit of sunbathing. If I can pick up some waitressing in the winter it’s a bonus. But my job is basically naturist related, in summertime.
Justine and Pookes at Naked Dreams
Q: How often do you get to play SL?
J: Irregularly! Almost not at all in summer. Winter time’s better for me. I’ve time on my hands, and that’s when you’ll find me in SL much more often.
Q: Do you have a favourite sim?
J: Each has a different feel to it, so I tend to drop into each according to mood. I’ve no definite favourite. I just appreciate what each of the builders have provided for us.
All Mtendere photos taken at Tulip store
Pookes: You’ve adopted an African appearance, specifically that of a Massai tribeswoman.
Mtendere: Yeah. I liked the look, which isn’t truly represented in the photos. The full look has African tribal clothing…a spear…headdress…short hair…the lot! I’m keen on cultural diversity. I think it’s something we need more of in Second Life, both in terms of avatar appearance and the sims they inhabit.
P: And yet you’re not an African Massai tribeswoman
M: (laughs) I doubt many of us are what we say we are in SL. I’m a black American woman, so the look kind of fits. I joined SL at the same time I was doing some genealogy research and from what I discovered, the two fitted together pretty well…the African tribeswoman and discovery of my RL roots, which may -I’m not absolutely certain- actually have Massai roots. I’ve certainly got the height to say that I might have Massai blood (laughs)
P: You say the look isn’t representative of your entire SL.
M: No. It’s certainly softened and westernised a bit for not only these photos but everyday SL. There’s not enough Africa in SL for me to indulge that fantasy element of it on a daily basis, so I do have to run a more westernised look, in terms of hair, clothes, and the places I visit.
P: Are you a naturist?
M: Not in the real world and not in Second Life either. It’s not realistic to call me a naturist. What I do have is a relaxed attitude to nudity in Second Life because I’d like to roleplay it in terms of, well, a need for less clothing (laughs).
P: Communal tribal nudity.
M: Hmmm….well…maybe not tribal in a way. That implies ‘black’ to me…the uncultured black man or woman. We still have tribes in the Amazon where clothes haven’t imposed themselves too much. In Africa, that former innocence to nudity has been somewhat lost. And that’s sad that the white man has imposed his values on the rest of the world and cultural diversity is under threat. While I’m not naturist, I would certainly embrace nudity in a ‘commune’ sense in SL. And if I discovered I was actually part of ‘x’ tribe in Africa, from centuries ago, and they live out in the wilds and conduct themselves naked in a part of their lives, I’d have no problem in being naked in that context.
The theme of SLN9 being to blur the lines between Rl & SL naturism, I thought it might be useful to provide a potted history of the naturist/nudist movement in its modern incarnation. Note that, in this ‘blurring’, there is clear evidence of ‘real life’ naturist photography used throughout Issue 9.
Naturism basically begins 100 years ago, when Paul Zimmerman opens the first naturist club near Hamburg. Of course, Zimmerman wasn’t working in isolation. Nothing in society springs from nowhere. Instead, it’s likely that his decision to do so was based on the zeitgeist. Thoughts about physical activity, exercise and so on would have been part of medical thinking (then as it is now), and the benefits of sun and light might well have been recognised.
Of course, this step forward only comes after a step back during the (British) Victorian era. At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, nude bathing would have been the norm. By the end of it, swimming costumes, for fear of alarming public respectability, were the norm.
But the nudist movement, as naturism would have been known then, took hold in Europe, before suffering a further setback during the Nazi era in Germany, when the practice was banned, although many nudist clubs renamed themselves ‘sports clubs’ to negotiate their way around this ban.
At the same time, the beginning of the 1930s, nudism was taking hold in the USA, and by the mid-30s the land of the free had established one clear breakthrough, with male full-body swimming costumes falling out of favour and morphing into the swimming trunks we know (and sometimes loathe!) today. By 1936 male topless bathing was pretty much established as the swimming costume of choice. Odd, I think, that it took a mere two years between males ‘offending public decency’ and swimming trunks becoming the favoured style of dress, when compared to the ongoing debate over female toplessness (see an article on the topless debate elsewhere in SLN9). While America took a firm and clear position on the topless male, it thereafter lagged behind in naturist development. That’s not so say that there are no American naturists, there are thousands!, but in terms of ‘free’ beaches, naturist ‘villages’ and so on, America continues to lag behind.
Post-war, naturism took hold in a big way again across Europe, with Germany and France leading the way, as well as portions of ‘the Eastern bloc’ (as was). Behind ‘the iron curtain’ naturism was very much part of society in places like East Germany, the DDR.
By the 1970s legal naturst beaches are springing up all around the world, in places as far apart as England and Australia, and what was previously seen as the fenced-in ‘nudist camps’ of a few enters the mainstream with public visibility.
I know there will be those who will point out ommissions, but the purpose is simply to establish a few key pointers on the map of naturist development over the past century.
For each step forward there is also a retrograde step. With the development of naturist beaches (and towns/villages) around the world we’ve also seen a direct decline in ‘landed clubs’, that is, naturist ‘camps’ with their own property. Membership of these has declined, and aged. Younger people no longer need to undergo membership procedures, abide by rules and so on. Now, it’s as simple as turning up at a beach and stripping off. As simple as booking a holiday in a location dedicated to naturism, be it the camping facilities for naturism offered around France, or the naturista urbanisations (gated communities, with nudity readily visible on public roads) in Spain.
With the right hair, moustache, pose and suitable photographic colouring, Don makes a credible ‘vintage nudist’
I suppose I represent part of this younger generation (albeit from the perspective of being a 30-something). I’ve never belonged to a naturist club, but I do enjoy regular naturist holidays. Most people I know of my age, and younger, do the same and feel the same way. It doesn’t occur to join a club in rainy Britain when it’s as easy (and probably as cheap) to forego membership of a club and book a week somewhere with guaranteed sunshine.
You can undertake further research into naturist history here, here, here (pdf file), here, and here. (I’ve tried to give those links a bit of geographic spread so you can read how the movement developed in different countries).
Geographically, there are odd anomalies in the way naturism is approached in various territories. America takes a prudish approach to the naked body in a naturist environment (or in its media) while there is a burgeoning ‘accepted’ (t0 a point) porn industry. Poland and the former East Germany could be seen as having been totalitarian regimes during the Soviet era, yet citizens freedoms amounted to widely accepted naturism.
Ella (additional reporting by Barbara)