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Dear media, enough with the double entendres.
An open letter to all media organisations covering nudist or naturist events. Enough with the double entendre and sly innuendo. Treat your audience with a modicum of intellect.
We have all seen the coverage, usually at the end of a news segment where an event is covered with a wry smile and a heavy sprinkling of risqué language. I imagine that the editors or producers are afraid of spooking the advertisers and censors or are trying to reduce the complaints to the relevant broadcasting standards authority from the moral majority, many of whom are yet to understand that social nudity is about as sexual as a church picnic in the bible belt.
Social or non-sexual nudity and recreational nudity, are about ordinary people doing ordinary things, but doing them while not wearing any clothes. These people have overcome the ideas of body shame and embarrassment that society seems to insist accompany any naked body. Most of the time, recreational nudity occurs in the privacy of home or at a specific naturist venue and is largely invisible to the wider public.
Occasionally, events will spill out into public areas and society is slowly becoming more accepting of events that embrace nudity. There is still a very long way to go before these events are fully accepted, but events like the World Naked Bike Ride and the seasonal Naked Gardening days seem to be accepted without too much fuss.
Too often media organisations seem to make light of any naturist events that they cover, with the result being that the reports don't take the content seriously. If the report isn’t taken seriously, then the general public is less likely to engage with the topic seriously. Many people take their cues about social acceptance from the media, and if the media treat an issue in a suggestive or titillating way then people are more likely to regard social nudity as something to be laughed at.
To be fair, naturist organisations will sometimes invite the media to report on events to promote the group or specific activities, but these events should be reported factually and in an informative way. It is important that these naturist groups be more insistent with reporters that their work takes a more balanced tone, and avoid minimising or trivialising the event.
I find it interesting that if a group of naked people are seen out and about, there may be some disapproval from the public but largely the group is tolerated and in some cases cheered on. When a single person attempts the same journey, the public response can be quite different, and individuals have found themselves up in court defending indecency charges. Thankfully here in New Zealand, most of these are thrown out as being naked in public is not illegal. Offensive behaviour on the other hand is and it may take a court case to establish that one person’s sense of offence does not meet the threshold of indecency.
Why is a group of people engaged in naked activities seen as non-threatening, and yet an individual doing the same activity is seen as offensive and can be perceived as an affront to society?
Why is a celebrity like Britney Spears posting nude pictures on social media seen as a sign of a confident and strong woman taking control of her own image? And yet an ordinary person displaying the same confidence and control is censored and ridiculed?
I leave media organisations with this challenge. Next time you are reporting on a nude or naturist event, try presenting it as a healthy alternative to be considered rather than as a snigger-fest more suited to the schoolyard. Why not report on the cost to the environment of the clothing industry? Why not report on the improvement in body confidence experienced by participants? Why not present informed and balanced coverage without trivialising and joking?
I am of course being selective in my criticism. There are articles reporting on nudity that portray outrage and offence as if the very fabric of our society is in danger of collapsing if someone walks naked through a field and is seen by some concerned citizen. That is a topic for another day.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.