Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How nude were you?

Dang – I didn’t get my naked bottom in the paper. Monday morning witnessed an incredible mass photo shoot of 5000 naked people at the Opera House. Expectations had been for about 2,000 brave souls – and do bear in mind Monday was the first day of the Australian autumn and true to form whenever you are contemplating taking your clothes off in public the weather had turned a relatively cold and chilly 20 oC, but in the event over 5,000 bared all in the name of art and togetherness. Check out the Sydney Morning Herald Article for a photo of what it, in a headline worthy of The Sun, calls the “Five Thousand Bum Salute” and note the tan lines – you can tell they are Aussies.

The photo shoot by Spencer Tunick was part of the Sydney’s Mardi Gras Gay and Lesbian festival but turned into just a general celebration of the human form in all its assorted shapes. I am really cross with myself that I failed to be sufficiently switched on to get in on the act as I think it would actually be very moving and incredibly liberating to be part of a huge mass of naked humanity. Snorts of disbelief at this point from my nearest and dearest, as all this protestation about the joy of human nudity comes from the woman who goes into contortions on the beach trying to wriggle into swimmers behind a postage stamp sized towel. This changing behind a towel mentality is a sure giveaway of being a Pom on the beach as in the same situation Aussies strip off with the minimum of fuss and towel waving.

Based on our experience, attitudes to nudity differ hugely by country. When our children were toddlers we were back in the UK where we caused mass hilarity by kitting them out in Australian all in one Bananas in Pyjamas, lycra sun suits – these dinky little outfits may be part of the UK summer now but I can assure you that in the early 90’s they were enough to mark us out as bizarre beach goers. In Australia, toddlers run around with sun protection on but quite often scuttle around naked or with no pants – as indeed our children did in the UK. However when we moved to the US it quickly became apparent that child nudity in any form was frowned upon – I never dared test the water on adult nudity as apart from a general clapping of hands over eyes I suspect I would have got arrested if I had tried to change on the town beach, towel or no towel. Some British friends of ours moved into our American town with a two and a half year old boy who ran round naked in their front garden under the sprinkler and then got a anonymous package on the doorstep with a pair of child’s swimming trunks and a note saying “This is the way we do things here” – and that told them, didn’t it!

If Mr Tunick wants to do another mass shoot next year – I’ll be there. I do know though that no sooner have I shed all my inhibitions and clothes, that I will find I am standing next to my headmaster, greengrocer, fitness instructor, Phil from the coffee shop, husband’s boss or indeed anyone I know and my cringing form will be immediately identifiable amongst the crowd by the neon pink blush suffusing my entire body.

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