National Geographic (& Amazon River)

We’ve all seen copies of this long running magazine without, I imagine, as much as flicking through a copy.

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National Geographic has been published since 1888, and from 1896 has been featuring nudity, almost certainly exclusively with regard to ‘primitive’ peoples, or ‘noble savages’.

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I mention this because I was recently talking to a person (in the real world) who said that the magazine legitimised nudity when he was a teenager in the 1970s. Because it was ‘primitive peoples’ it was OK for him to view these things, everywhere from his school to his parents purchasing copies at the local newsagents. He suggested that the feeling may well have been that copies of a naturist magazine wouldn’t have been considered acceptable, by either his teachers or parents, but unclad women in ‘primitive’ areas of the world was fine.

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(Above: from (before) 1944 to the 1980s, nudity has been featured regularly in National Geographic)

Indeed, he suggests that the magazine was his only regular source of semi-clad women. I wasn’t aware of the magazine as ‘eye candy for teenage boys’, but I can understand how and why they might have had such interest in all things geographic. Of course, from our perspective in the 21st century we can look back at 30 year old magazines, before the internet made all manner of nudity available to all, and regard them as bit exploitative. I imagine there was something of an editorial policy that suggested that we, the ‘enlightened, religious west’ were somehow more advanced for embracing clothes and that we knew ‘shame’ and the need for the body to be covered. (Who, again, is it who is more ‘enlightened’?)

Scouring the internet will reveal that ‘tribal nudity’ is something of a…I’m not sure if ‘fetish’ is the right word. It’s certainly something internet users do regard as ‘a thing’, at least. It would be very interesting to know how much of this ‘thing’ had its seeds in the minds of men of a certain age reading National Geographic.

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We’ve done our own National Geographic front cover (photo and mock up by Diane, based on the original cover -top of page)

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I’ve said before how SL is enriched by cultural diversity and how, also, this diversity has diminished in recent years in SL. While Amazon River, the location where our mocked-up photo shoot took place, concerns itself only with one eco-system, it is the benchmark of what can be achieved. While visiting, I ran into Tadeseu and Samomopopucu, two avatars who discovered Amazon River, began role-playing within it, and who have adopted a ‘tribal’ approach to their avatars. ‘We wanted to live SL very much as we might as members of a jungle tribe, the look, the experience, everything. Gradually, as we’ve played it, we’ve both been able to adopt something of a tribal look -tribal tattoos, hairless bodies, good looking skins of darker tones’.

They’ve also been surprised how immersive and educational Amazon River has become to them. ‘We both read about it a lot. Not exclusively the Amazon, but other areas under threat from ‘civilisations’. These tribes have had a same way of life for thousands of years, and then civilisation comes along to threaten them, or wipe them out, within a few generations. How does that enrich the globe? To lose those languages and rituals, the innocence of nudity…’.

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Amazon River prides itself on being ‘eight regions, one river’, and is certainly somewhere worth visiting in SL if ‘something different’ is what you yearn.

Ella

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