I suppose we have some sort of unreal image of Vietnam thanks to a plethora of films about the country (see the scene from ‘Full Metal Jacket’ above) and its attitudes to sexuality and nudity.
Its first ever nude photographic exhibition took place last September, and photographers are working hard to create a clear demarcation between nude art and vulgarity.
Hmmm…that sounds a little familiar to those of us striving to create a demarcation between naturism and pornography.
The reality is that, since the Vietnam War and whatever attitudes prevailed before 1975, they’ve since hardened under a Marxist-Leninist socialist republican system of government (i.e. Communism, a failed political ideal). Hence the tiny steps being taken by a few (click the links above to see how artistic, non sexual and relatively bland their approach to nudity is).
It’s surprising, therefore, to read that naturism is gaining a foothold in Vietnam.
Whilst swimming and exercise based events are being undertaken a little below the radar, it’s always pleasing to learn that our lifestyle has a place whatever the political system in place!
They say shedding their clothes makes them feel uninhibited, a rare chance to stray from the pack in the one-party state where social compliance and strict norms are taught from a young age.
Though public nudity remains taboo in much of Asia, nudist swimming clubs have popped up in conservative China, and tourist-haven Thailand boasts several ‘naturalist’ retreats mostly for foreigners, while public bathhouses have long been popular across Japan and South Korea.
But nudist bathing and beach-going is rare in Vietnam
“Vietnamese people should be more open when they talk about nudist bathing. We shouldn’t be so modest about it like in the past,” said naked bather Nguyen Thi Thuy, wearing nothing but the hair on her head. [eh? Has the trend for depilation reached Vietnam?]
This is currently of particular interest to me, as one of the plans for 2018 on SLN was to do a kind of ‘Around the World in 80 Nudes’ series, highlighting naturism as a lifestyle in various real world global locations. There won’t be 80 posts on it, of course, but we plan to try to highlight naturism in lesser known spots (for naturism) around the world. As such, the links that highlight some acceptance of nudity and naturism in Vietnam make it a prime reason why I’m logging this as the first stop on our global tour, and commencing the series a week early.
Incidentally, the appearance of bare breasts, at least, used to be much more commonplace in Vietnam as it was right across Asia. Just for info purposes, the top photo identifies ‘a young Annamite woman’ (in French). Annam was the name for Vietnam until the end of the 2nd World War.
As for the Vietnam War…well, nudity could certainly be found in the war zone itself, with a soldier seen here taking a shower fed by a bucket hanging from the barrel of a tank.
Interesting reading. The war zone nudity brought to mind Mr. T’s (hubby) dad’s war time stories about nudity. He was a WWII navy veteran who served in the Pacific. He related several stories about bathing facilities being set up on various islands so army & marine troops could take long overdue showers/baths. And for many of the naval personnel as well. He said it was quite common for hundreds of men to be fully nude in these open areas with local villagers and enlisted female personnel constantly walking by and observing them without much concern on their parts. For the men he said they were so thankful to get a hot shower they could care less who was observing them. (Ms. K )