Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Art and Naturism

Today Taiwan’s cable television stations reported on a university student posing nude for painters, and enjoying it. “I feel natural when I pose,” said Lu Chung-wei, a third-year literature student at National Chengkung University in the central Taiwanese town of Taichung.

Her words represent precisely what naturism is all about. Nature and naturalness. Feeling natural, feeling good. While being naked.
Often in Asia, the only opportunity for social nudity is given by art. Over the past few years, Taiwanese students have tried to organize naturist chess and ball games at an arts center in the southern town of Kaohsiung. The activity sounded just like a normal naturist sports game, but in order to win acceptance, it had to be presented as art. The arts center didn’t have a roof, but was closed off by walls from the outside.
In that case, the media played a negative role. After extensive media attention, the students’ school showed “concern” about the sports game. In the end, the lack of understanding forced the students to “dress up” and give up on naturism.
Late last year, a Taipei theater group included a short nude dancing scene in a long play, but attracted the attention of the police, who took photographs to study whether the play broke any laws. Protest from viewers, art lovers, and the local government – which had financed the play – turned police away and the play went on.

While art or nudity on stage cannot be considered naturism, they can introduce the public in Asia to social nudity, to being naked in a non-sexual context. And that's what I hope more and more Asians will understand. That there is nothing inherently bad about being naked. It is something you can enjoy, alone or together. With family, friends or strangers. Nudity is natural. Nudity is free. Nudity is enjoyable. Naturism is not nudity for nudity's sake, it is being naked because it is enjoyable.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

From an Adriatic Rock Island to Asia's Mr. Naturist (2)

Years later, I returned to Yugoslavia as a backpacker, moving my way up along the Adriatic coast, one of Europe’s most beautiful, with its islands and bays. When I reached the picturesque village of Biograd na Moru – or Belgrade on the Sea – I decided to stay on and relax for a couple of days. There, in the tiny harbor, I found fishermen advertising for trips with their boat. The signs on their boats were accompanied by the abbreviation FKK – which I knew by them was the German term Frei Koerper Kultur or Free Body Culture, the normal German name for naturism.

The boat reached a small uninhabited rocky island and set us off until 5 pm. The island was just a clump of rocks with trees on top. I followed the other boat passengers on a narrow sandy path and around the corner ... I found naturism. Slabs of rock, not real beaches, with people lying around sunbathing, or swimming around, naked.

That was my first day in naturism. And you could tell. All day long I kept lying on my belly while the other people, men, women, and children, went into the water.

I waited until my second day there until I became brave enough to walk around myself, holding on to the uncomfortable rocks and constantly on the lookout for sea urchins, round black animals covered in painfully long needles that seem to grow everywhere along the Yugoslav coast.

To paraphrase the expression, a small step for mankind, but a huge one for me. I had taken my first step into naturism, and I would never look back. From that trip to Yugoslavia on, I would always try to find a naturist beach or resort on my following holidays.

Why? Because now I understood what freedom is. And comfort. The feeling of not having to wear anything when it is suitable not to wear anything. The feeling of just lying in the sun, under a soft Mediterranean breeze. Swimming in the blue water. Without clothes, without swimming trunk, it feels even better.

In the next installment of this modest series, I will tell you about my later experiences with naturism overseas.

Monday, February 16, 2004

From an Adriatic Rock Island to Asia’s Mister Naturism (1)

As promised, here is the first installment in the story of how I came to naturism.
I still remember vividly what my first encounter with naturism was. It involved a dark night, a barrier and not a single naked person. I had booked an organized trip with a travel agency to the country then still known as Yugoslavia. The flight arrived at night, and as was the practice with organized trips, a bus picked up all the tourists at the airport to start a long and tedious journey from one hotel to another.

One place was different though. I remember the bus stopped at a barrier. This gave the whole place the taste of a frontier. I wondered at the time what place this could be. We were in the part of Yugoslavia close to Italy, but surely the bus wasn’t supposed to cross into Italy. Up went the barrier, and past it went the bus. A small group of tourists disembarked in this place in the middle of what looked like a pine forest, and then the bus left.

I only understood the significance of this place and of the barrier two weeks later, when I was on the bus going in the other direction, back to the airport. This time, the bus trip took place by day, in the hot sunlight. Again the barrier, but this time there were actually people walking around in the forest. They were covered, not from head to toe, but only head and toe: they were wearing sandals, straw hats and sunglasses. Nothing else at all. There were men and women, of all ages. None of them bothered to cover up as the bus went past them. Never even having heard about naturism, I was partly shocked, partly fascinated, as any male teenager would be by naked people.

And that was my first contact with naturism. In the next installment, I will tell you of my first experience AS a naturist.

Naturists and Clothes

Reading an article about a French fashion observer in Japan has suddenly kindled my enthusiasm for marketing, style and fashions. The man runs around town observing the clothes people buy and wear.

What? A naturist interested in clothing, I hear you ask?
Hey, even naturists wear clothes. Sometimes. I must admit, I’m not really interested in clothes. I’ll only go shopping for clothes if I really need new ones. I then walk into a store looking for the item I need. When I see an item with a look and a price tag I like, I try it on. And if it fits, well, I buy it straight away and get as quickly out of the shop as I can.

But let’s get back to the topic of naturism and clothes.
Shouldn’t naturists reject clothes – “textile” in the naturist jargon – altogether? Of course. If you live in a region where the sun never sets, where it’s never too cold or the sun never threatens to scorch you, you should. Or if you live in an environment where you never meet people who are not naturists and do wear clothes, you should. Yes, there are places like those, in North America and Europe, and I would be very happy to live in those. If I did, then I’m sure my choice would be never to wear clothes.

But unfortunately, the world is not perfect, and especially here in Asia, it is often difficult to find a space of your own where you can be naked if you want to. Too bad, and that’s one of the things I would like to see changed.
I would like to see the setting up of 100 % naturist environments in Asia. Where people can stay indoors without clothes, or walk, swim, do sports outside without clothes. Two years ago, I remember reading something about a Thai tycoon planning a naturist resort in his country, but since then I’ve heard no news about it. I just hope the project comes along. If it does, it’ll form a magnet for naturists all over East Asia, and I would be one of the first people to go there. Such a resort would also be a model for all of Asia.
If a resort shows that naturism works in Thailand, why shouldn’t other countries follow "suit"?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

International Naturists Association

Monday, February 09, 2004

From an Adriatic Rock Island to Asia's Mister Naturism

Coming up on this blog, the story of my personal journey from outsider to fan of naturism.
From spotting a separate resort behind a barrier close to the then Italian-Yugoslav border, over a rock island in the same country, to free naturist beaches in Greece, the United States and the Netherlands, to the world of officially organized naturism.
That's how I moved along over the years, and why and how is what I will be telling you in the next installments of this blog.
My ultimate aim is to help out with the promotion and organization of naturism in Asia, and allow Asians to enjoy the same naturist environment Europeans and Americans already have. In other words, I want to become Asia's Mr. Naturism.
Come back and read more soon.
My plan is first to promote this blog site on naturist sites, and then tell my story.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Naturism is Family Fun

Last year, a local politician in the Taiwanese islands of Penghu launched the idea to open naturist beaches to attract more tourists. The idea never got off the ground, but the reaction TV interviewers received from the public was typical. "This will teach the children bad things," one middle-aged woman told TV.
The same Taiwanese would probably stare their eyes out at nudity on TV and in magazines and newspapers, but they still regard social nudity as a problem rather than as what it is: a pleasant and innocent lifestyle.

That is the main thing about naturism that people in Asia should be told about. Just look at any naturist beach in, say, Europe. Naturism is family fun. On naturist beaches, you will see fathers, mothers and children doing what families on other beaches do: play in the sand, walk around, lie in the sun, play in the water and swim. The only different with other beaches: nobody wears any swimming suits.
It's only when you've done that yourself, that you realize how much fun it is, how "normal" it is. Sunning, swimming, walking without clothes. And nobody will stare at you, nobody will say anything, nobody will even notice. That's the beauty of naturism. America and Europe are already onto it, it's time Asia also jumped on the bandwagon.

The best way to tell you in Asia about the joys of naturism is to tell you about my own experiences. Which are similar to the experiences of most new naturists in Asia and elsewhere.
I first came upon a naturist resort by accident, before I even knew it existed. Then the next year, I went specifically out of my way to find a naturist beach. And I got used to it, I got to like it. So much, that I didn't want to go back to the old way of holidaying. And I didn't want naturism just on holidays. I wanted to find naturism in my home country, in my home region. First only in summer. Later I wanted more. The whole naturist lifestyle. Not just during the holidays, but also any day I wanted it. Because of the environment I live in, that hasn't been possible as much as I wanted it, but I'm trying.

And I'll let you know more about my own experiences in coming to naturism in my next post. In the meantime, warm naturist greetings from a cold and rainy part of Asia.