Saturday, July 25, 2009

Naturism, Italy, and the Law

Thanks to the Italian naturist magazine Info Naturista I receive, I know that Italy is about to take a giant step forward toward naturism.
A group of seven senators have brought a bill to the Italian parliament for the 'decriminalization and legalization of the practice of naturism.'
Their arguments are mainly economic: if Italy remains the odd one out on naturism, it will miss the income from thousands of naturists who will spend their holidays elsewhere.
The argument is absolutely right: France and Croatia are famous for not just their nude beaches, but also their completely naturist resorts, where men, women and children can spend their family holidays together without the fear of being gawked at by non-naturist outsiders. Spain and Greece also have countless naturist beaches, and a growing number of naturist villas, apartments and small resorts.
Italy really is the odd one out. There are only a handful of naturist clubs catering mostly to local members and to limited groups of foreign naturists, but large-scale seaside naturism is virtually not in the picture.
The senators made their call for the legalization of naturism in Italy on World Naturist Day, last June 7, and we'll make sure we watch how it will proceed. The key supporters come from the Radical Party, a small group within the leftwing opposition, though it has to be said that unlike what many outsiders think, naturism is not a left-right issue, so there is no direct fear that because the right has a majority, the law will not pass.
Senator Donatella Poretti's piece in Info Naturista notes that there are 500,000 Italians who practice naturism inside the country or abroad. Europe has about 20 million people who practice naturism, sometimes only during the holidays, while the United States has 40 million. In other words, the senator says Italy is missing out on 60 million potential visitors.
The proposal also mentions that the naturist beach areas should be clearly marked to warn non-naturists.
As far as I can see, this piece of legislation should find no opponents - Europeans are already completely used to topless sunbathing, while naturism has been winning ground, as images of the naked human body without any sexual connotation have become more acceptable.
If millions of naturists can enjoy holidays in Spain, France, Greece, Croatia and more northerly countries, there is no reason for Italy to stay outside. An orderly introduction of naturism to the country would benefit everybody.
The Italian legislation could also form an example for Asian countries, where unfortunately true naturists are still a small, fragmented and misunderstood minority. Instead of having police going all nervous about three topless Brazilian athletes on a Taiwanese beach during the World Games, maybe we should have the Italian type of legislative proposals instead.
You can find the full Italian legislative proposal in the original version on Senator Poretti's blog at

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Topless in Taiwan (2): The World Games

Here we go again. The same city - Kaohsiung - the same beach, the same phenomenon. Topless foreign women.
But now there's a new element to the game. The 8th edition of the World Games started in the southern Taiwanese city last Thursday, so whatever happens around it receives immediate attention.
The truth this time: three young Brazilian ladies, apparently members of that country's beach volleyball team at the games, enjoyed the beach and the sun so much, they took their tops off to sunbathe. TV footage only revealed one of them sitting upright, two lying face down.
But that was enough to get the whole media mob and the local police into high gear.
The police convinced the ladies to put on their tops, while the media reports had the required shocked locals exclaiming how topless sunbathing did not fit in with local culture, and how some local children might have seen it. For extra ammunition, they also found a Russian couple saying there were no topless sunbathers in Moscow. Probably right, since Moscow isn't exactly a prime beach destination. A young woman said the foreigners should respect local habits.
A man with the Brazilian team said it was the ladies' first day in Taiwan, and they were so happy at seeing the sun and the beach that they didn't realize things were different here.
Too bad they are, but then anyone wearing a bikini in Taiwan is still labeled a 'hot chick' in the media, and topless is completely unheard of. Even by the many Taiwanese who have traveled overseas apparently, since there is not a vibrant beach-going habit, so overseas the Taiwanese will mainly stick to shopping malls and historic monuments.
Too bad. I would've hoped that for once, the police and the other curious citizens would have looked the other way, and considered the topless bathing what it was - a symbol of internationalization during the event during which, according to local propagandists, 'the whole world will be watching Taiwan.'

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Topless in Taiwan 36.7 degrees

Two young European women sunbathed topless on a beach in Taiwan.
How do I know? Because Taiwan has numerous 24-hour TV news stations, and in Taiwan, a topless woman on a beach still counts as news.
The duo was spotted on a beach popular with surfers in the Chichin district of Kaohsiung, the country's second largest city, in the south. Of course, some people had their camera phones out and recorded the 'news,' which then was broadcast with the two young ladies covered up by a 'mosaic.' To be fair, so were their faces, so they will not be hassled during the rest of their stay.
The local surfers did not seem surprised or shocked, taking it all in good stride. One member of the public interviewed on television said the topless sunbathing 'did not fit in with local people's customs.' Fair enough, but in the meantime, television news broadcasts go on and on about all the 'spice girls' at one of Taiwan's biggest rock festivals, Ho Hai Yen this weekend on the island's northern coast. No topless bathing there, just a lot of bikinis, which in Taiwan still counts as 'spicy.' Some 20 years ago, you could go to a major beach resort and still see young women wade into the sea wearing long, flowery dresses, so at least, there is some progress.
The reaction of the authorities to the topless 'incident?' Send in more guards walking along the beach to prevent more such incidents from happening.
And all this while temperatures are reaching record levels for the year, 36.9 degrees centigrade on Friday and 36.7 on Saturday. Can you really blame anyone for wanting to go topless?

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Naked Friday at the Naked Office

The Office is a world-famous British comedy series about goings-on at a company office, which launched the international career of Ricky Gervais. It was so popular that the United States had it remade in an adaptation to local situations, with Steve Carrell in the lead role.
The kind of office I mention here, is also on television, but it is a real office, at a real company, with real people, not actors. A British ad agency felt it would be a valid experiment to see if people interacted better if they were working naked. So what did they do? Instead of instituting a casual Friday, as many companies in the West do, they went one step further and launched a Naked Friday.
That's right, on Friday, all employees at the company can work without anything on. Nobody is forced to participate, and two members of the staff chose to stop at their underwear. The result of the experiment will be shown on a TV show, "The Naked Office," on British station Virgin 1 on July 9.
While I don't know whether working naked really improves the environment, the show is likely to help the positive image of nudity. You don't have to look like a supermodel to be nude, and doing things nude, from the obvious like swimming and sunbathing, to cycling and now working should not sound as crazy as it still does.
If you live outside Great Britain, you probably won't be able to watch the show, but in the meantime you can read reports from the Daily Mail at and from a broadcasting site at The TV show site is at

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Nude and Pregnant

Yes, Demi Moore did it before, and many have followed since. But in Japan, where public images of nudity are still extremely rare and frowned upon, the picture of a nude pregnant woman on the front page of a newspaper is still something to be talked about. So much so, that the recent case even found its way to news broadcasts overseas, in this case Taiwan.
Hitomi Furuya is a pop singer who sold more than 8 million records over the past decade under the name of hitomi. While not as well known as Ayumi Hamazaki or Namie Amuro, she nevertheless can be counted as one of the top singers in celebrity-crazed Japan.
Obviously, she did not pose nude and pregnant without a reason. There is a new album to be sold, so stirring up some talk came in handy. Nevertheless, having a pregnant woman pose naked is a positive thing for naturism and body image. It shows you don't have to look thin or near-emaciated to have a beautiful body and show it off. Naturism is for every body, not just the young and sexy, as many Internet forum posters still seem to believe. Each time you read an article about nude beaches, there is the unavoidable 'complaint' that there are too many people, that they are disgusting, that they should not be showing themselves to others.
A true naturist knows that naturism is not about showing off, but about enjoying nature in one's most natural state, regardless of age, gender, or looks.
Look for a picture of hitomi at and skip the introduction.
Meanwhile, over in China, students at Shanghai's Fudan University, one of the country's most renowned institutions of learning, decided to mark their graduation a little bit differently. They had nude pictures taken, some of them frontal nudity, while running about at night or posing inside buildings. The pictures were just good fun, ended up on the Internet, and on TV shows across the region. A comparison was made to the famous nude student runs at a Philippines university, a tradition which has been going on for decades. Maybe the new economic power and the boom in lifestyles and modern international tastes in China will also include an interest in naturism. Recent reports also mentioned the reopening of a nude beach somewhere in Sichuan, China's most populous province, which suffered a massive earthquake last year.

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