Sunday, November 21, 2004


Consternation in the southern Taiwanese city of Chiayi this week. The weather was sunny, so what did four young Russian women do? They went to the local park, and started sunbathing. Wearing bikinis, with one of them, lying on her chest, undoing her top. An innocent enough phenomenon, had it been Europe or the United States. But this was Taiwan, and even more surprising, the relatively rural south.
The TV cameras showed the ladies were soon no longer alone, but a couple of hardworking gardening employees – male of course - were enthusiastically pruning the bushes nearby.
The fact that this otherwise banal item made national television just shows how unfamiliar Taiwanese still are with the human body. During summer, ladies – most of them local – have been revealing more and more bare skin, in keeping with worldwide fashion trends. But in an environment where white is still beautiful and any tendency toward a dark skin is not, it is extremely rare to see people actively sunbathing – and wearing so little clothing at that.
At least, the Chiayi Incident, if we can call it that, showed that some people there were more broadminded and ready for the bikini age: a local woman interviewed by the TV station said what the Russian women were doing was great and there was nothing wrong with it. A small step in the direction of naturism, but still a big step for Chiayi!