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.
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.