Getting comfortable with nudityANNA TURNER
While I was flicking through the most read stories on our website lately a story about a naked Kiwi surfer caught my attention - and apparently a lot of our readers' attention too.
The woman in question seems to have no problem being butt naked in public. She goes nude surfing, letting it all hang out, and doesn't care who sees (up to 100 random men in the water, it appears).
And the best bit is, she's not some skinny supermodel-esque woman. She's just your normal Kiwi chick with a bit of bum, a bit of tum, who has no problem with putting her bits on display. Good on her, I thought.
But, I began wondering, how much nudity really is normal? Is it cool that this lady feels so comfy being in the buff, or is it just a bit strange?
I mean, there's no way you'd catch me surfing nude in public. I often have dreams when I suddenly realise I've forgotten all my clothes and am starkers in the middle of the street. And I can tell you, even in dreamworld, I most certainly do mind who sees me.
But is that perfectly reasonable or is it a result of my own body hang-ups? It's not that I am ashamed of my body. In fact, I think it's quite nice (most days, that is). But something still just feels deeply private about, well, our private parts.
Pondering the subject, I decided I needed to canvas a wider audience. It seemed an appropriate conversation to have at the pub (well, it seemed appropriate after a few drinks, anyway). And there was such a divide in response, I was captivated.
Some people seemed absolutely fine with the concept of public nudity. One female admitted she had naked bungy-jumped (quick to point out it was a no camera zone and in a foreign country), had skinny dipped regularly while travelling overseas and even used to have "naked days".
Others broke out in a sweat at the mere thought of anyone other than their significant other catching a peek of skin.
The thing was, there seemed to be no direct correlation between nudity and body shape. It wasn't just stick-thin people who didn't mind being nude in public, but a whole range of body shapes. Being a swimmer, I've witnessed the same thing in changing rooms over the years.
There are always the changers who prance about in the nude, bending over and soaping up in the showers without a care in the world. In my experience, these ladies are usually the older and heavier ones.
Then there are those who wrap themselves in towels, completing a delicate dance of getting changed without letting anything slip. These ladies are usually, and I am generalising here, younger and fitter than the former.
As a teenager, I would have died if my friends had seen my naked body. My swim squad were definitely of the getting-changed-under-the towel sort, even though we saw each other in our togs every single day.
(Side note: I was having a conversation with a male friend the other day about this. He could not understand how a female would be embarrassed to be seen in her knickers, but happy to walk around in a skimpy bikini. I agreed it was weird, but somehow there is a distinction.)
As I've grown up - and ironically, have a much less fit body - I've relaxed about being nude. I still don't flaunt my naked body in the changing rooms, but I really don't care if people catch a random flash of something.
My old next-door neighbour used to regularly swim in her pool in the nude - and she was 97. I always used to tell people about her nude breaststroke and say I would become a nudist when I hit my 70s; letting my wrinkly body be seen by the whole world.
It got me thinking, why did it no longer seem embarrassing to be nude when I was older? Was it because I would be, presumably, no longer desirable to the majority of the world? Is being nude only potentially shameful if people enjoy the sight?
My friend pointed out to me the other day that I will never again be as fit or as firm as I am right now. One day I will look back on today's body and probably wish I'd engaged in naked skiing or scuba diving.
I thought about her reasoning and it seems sound. While I think it's safe to say you won't see my parts swinging from a bungy cord anytime soon, I might try one of these "naked days" at home or go topless on a beach somewhere.
A very secluded beach...
Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Tell me, how do you feel about nudity? Are you comfortable being naked or do you think some things should remain private? Would you do a public activity, such as surfing, in the nude?
- © Fairfax NZ News
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