Skinbook, Nacations: I See Naked People in the News

BlogHer Original Post

Blame it on the Victorians, on our Puritan forefathers or on deep-seated sexual repression, but we remain fascinated by nudists.  Even the most mundane act can attract incredible attention simply by removing a fig leave here or there.  Walk the dog while wearing a cowboy hat?  Sigh, boring. But walk the dog while naked, with or without your cowboy hat.  You are now more newsworthy than the proverbial man who bites a dog. (If you are a naked man who bites dogs, don't expect those paparazzi to leave anytime soon.) 

Michaelangelo's statue of David


Nudists fascinate us.  Not just their naked bodies -- in fact, stories about nudist activities usually don't reveal skin.  But reports about the stubborn insistence of a lifestyle focusing on intentional, communal, non-sexual nudity drive us crazy.   Why does this niche crowd of body-positive folks who wear their nudist badges on their non-existent sleeves confound us so?

Time magazine recently took the naked bait and ran a nudist story.  They reported that Skinbook.ning.com, a nudist social media network based in the U.K., was created so that nudists could have Facebook time being nude without all kinds of pesky clothed people around.  According to Time:

The rules for Skinbook are clear: No pornographic images or headless torso shots. Don't leave sleazy comments under people's photos. Boot out any "creeps and voyeurs," as site executives call them, who manage to make it past the vetting process for new members. "For younger people, nudism is free from politics or activism. It's purely recreational," explains Skinbook's 25-year-old co-founder Karl Maddocks.

The Internet probably doesn't really need more breasts and buttocks, but the aggregate of content on the web doesn't matter to the individual user who wants to post her non-headless torso or his non-pornographic naked-golf hole-in-one victory pose.  Me, mine: Social media is nothing if not accommodating to our desire to make our mark online and to meet our tribe.  Even if your tribe is naked.  

Skinbook would be an ideal place to advertise your naked business.   Do you run a lovely tourist spot for nacations?  Skinbook it! Have an event to promote, perhaps the summer schedule of the acclaimed Naked Girls Reading series?  Thumbs up! You don't really need a huge advertising budget if nakedness is involved, though.  The media will do the heavy lifting for you.

Nudists say they are living the Freudian naked-dream: that in shedding their clothes they are freeing themselves from repression and connecting with a pre-fall natural comfort with their bodies.  Others make political statements with their nudity. Are we vicariously attracted to their freedom or sense of power?  Do their stories interest readers like a performance of Hair in the park?  Or is the draw simply a middle-school level attraction to bewbs and naked butts?

Things get complicated with nude stories centering on rogue messages that aren't as pastoral. Like the janitorial company that offers nude (or specialty costumed) housecleaning services.  The Nebraska business was exposed by CNN and local news outlets this week.  Sounding less like a nudist lifestyle proponent and more like an entrepreneur, the owner of the business said in an interview posted on KETC.com:

"We are strongly set on that we are not soliciting sex and we are strictly here to clean. If you want something other, you're going to have to take that up with that person there, but I don't condone it at all," Carroll said.

It definitely tends to change things when money is charged for nakedness, or if it serves as a pretense for prostitution.  Or does it?  Will we ever be able to look this issue in the face, or are the nipples of the naked just too distracting for our culture to cope with?

Deb Rox blogs at Deb on the Rocks, where she strongly recommends generous applications of very good sunscreen if you decide to dabble in nakedness this summer.

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