Saturday, January 31, 2009

Italy Again

The latest copy of the Italian naturist magazine Info Naturista arrived in my mailbox.
Inside, a far too short report telling me that the Croatian naturist resort of Valalta celebrated its 40th anniversary. Forty years, that means it was opened in 1968, in what was then the communist country of Yugoslavia. Communism always used to have this image of being very conservative and prude, but Yugoslavia was certainly an exception, welcoming naturists with open arms that long ago.
I had the pleasure of staying at Valalta, near the picturesque town of Rovinj in northern Croatia, in 2004. It was a great experience, and I only wished there were resorts like that closer to East Asia.
Back to the Italian magazine: other articles mention a swimming competition, the naturist author Pino Fiorella, a proposal for a law on naturism at the Italian parliament - now there's good news - the publication of a book on naturism in Italian by Monia D'Ambrosio under the title "Il Corpo Nudo - Sociologia della Nudita" or "The Nude Body - Sociology of Nudity" which you can find at the publisher The magazine also has a theoretical article about naturism which also describes the early history of the movement in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The battle to keep a beach with the poetic name of Lido di Dante near the historic city of Ravenna on Italy's east coast in naturist hands is apparently still continuing, with Info Naturista publishing an open letter to the city's mayor. The campaign will sound familiar to activists worried about similar changes for some famous U.S., Canadian or Australian beaches. The magazine closes with some funny cartoons, including one in which a naturist wife berates her husband for watching a TV show with footage of 'textile' women dancing.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Zhang Ziyi

Pictures of Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi showed up all over the Asian media yesterday. Zhang in a red bikini, Zhang topless, Zhang with hardly anything on walking and suntanning on a beautiful beach with her boyfriend.
Is the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" actress a naturist? Hardly likely, but she obviously does enjoy sunbathing without the illogical hindrance of a bathing suit.
While Zhang was absolutely right to undress on a beach, there were two things absolutely wrong.
First of all, the pictures themselves. Zhang was not on a public naturist beach or otherwise, but on a private beach on a private island near the French Caribbean island of St. Bart. The small island is reportedly owned by her boyfriend, New York businessman Vivi Nevo. In other words, there shouldn't have been a photographer there. If a beach is private property, you ask the owner before you shoot pictures. It's that simple. 81 pictures of Zhang in various poses and stages of undress were posted on Chinese and Hong Kong pictures, and then shown again in newspapers and on TV stations all over the region. We're not doing so because we believe in privacy. Shooting pictures on a beach is allright, but shooting pictures of a particular person can only happen if you first bother to ask and obtain her/his approval. On a naturist beach, the rule in principle is that you don't take pictures of other persons.
The other thing that was absolutely wrong was the alleged reaction of many Chinese Internet surfers to the Zhang pictures. They didn't condemn the photographer, but Zhang, for "losing face," for taking off her clothes on a beach, for frolicking with her boyfriend. A completely wrong reaction, blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator, but understandable up to a point if you've ever been on an Asian beach where it sometimes looks like even the bikini has not been imported yet.
I just hope the whole paparazzi circus is not going to turn Zhang Ziyi off from topless or nude bathing. If you were on a private island, would you want to wear a swimsuit?

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