Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Italy 2009

The latest edition of the Italian naturist magazine Info Naturista, the official publication of the Italian Naturist Federation tumbled into my mailbox again recently.
The opening editorial seems to do away with the classic differentiation between naturists and nudists, where the former are often environmentalists, vegetarians, peace activists, followers of natural medicine opposed to consumerism and alcohol, and the latter are just people who take their clothes off but keep all their other vices intact.
The difference doesn't matter, the editorial says, as long as all followers respect their bodies, each other, and the environment. The main expression of naturism is nudism, the article says.
The latest issue of the magazine has general writings of a philosophical nature as well as straightforward holiday reports - such as one bilingual English-Italian report about the Vritomartis resort on the less-frequent southern coast of Crete. The naturist hotel has no fewer than six - 6! - beaches in the neighborhood where naturism is the norm. You can find more information at, even though that part of the world will be mostly considered too remote for us residents of Asia. Pont Rouge in the Canadian province of Quebec might be a more likely destination.
The magazine concludes with the reviews of the activities of Italy's regional naturist organizations, including the everlasting campaign to keep the Lido di Dante beach near the historic town of Ravenna in nudist hands. There is also an extensive review of the naturist resort Le Betulle near Turin, which is run by the head of Italian naturism himself, Gianfranco Ribolzi.
If only Asia could have such naturist resorts and beaches, and such naturist magazines.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shushu and Yaoyao

Taiwan seems to have different star celebrities every week, and for the past days we've been regaled, if that's the word, with Shushu and Yaoyao.
Who are they? Minor models whose claim to fame is that the racy ads they appeared in were first banned from television, and then from the outside of the Taipei Arena and the outside of buses as well.
The ads were deemed to be treating women as objects. Both were designed to attract players to computer games - a predominantly male domain - and featured unrealistic images. One of the models - and don't ask me to tell Shushu from Yaoyao or the other way round - appeared in a T-shirt with a very deep cleavage, a safety helmet, and a pneumatic drill as she was racing through a street. There are many scantily clad beautiful young women in Taiwan, but none of them are construction or road workers. The other model was dressed up in all kinds of gear, nurse, bunny, student uniform, etc, and looked equally silly.
After complaints from women, the government's National Communications Commission banned the ad from TV. The Taipei City Government then banned it from its domain - the sports arena it runs and the buses it supervises.
Nothing wrong with that, since those ads, just like many others in Taiwan for furniture stores and motor shows, did not show any relevance between nudity and the objects for sale. It became more tricky when some people started complaining about excessive cleavage in ads for ... bras. How else are you supposed to sell a bra? Those are ads aimed at women, trying to sell products only women are supposed to wear. So, the campaign against exploitation threatened to go off the rails and become a campaign against any form of nudity.
Luckily, there was a new countermove on the pendulum and young college students argued there was nothing wrong with women showing off their shapes and curves for their own purposes.
Too bad the whole Shushu and Yaoyao situation is unlikely to bring about a healthier way of thinking about nudity. In Taiwan, many still consider the bikini, 61 years after its birth, to be racy and outlandish, and I'm only talking about the beach here.
A book like the one in the picture - a Belgian book about breasts by women for women - is still completely unthinkable in Taiwan and in most other Asian countries. Any publisher attempting it would face public and government wrath. Even a more modest book about nudity - by my 2008 Real Naturist of the Year Pan Ying-hua - was never widely released and only remained available locally and over the Internet.

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