Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Recycling last year's costume, because it's not every day that you can get away with wearing a bloody prom dress. :-p No extra blood this year (that's awfully messy, and it was kinda chilly out, so I wanted to wear a jacket while out trick'r'treating). If you must, just think of me as Carrie's little sister, who got her big sister's prom dress as a hand-me-down. -_^

Monday, October 26, 2015

Spread Love

I was browsing pictures online one day, and I saw a photo of someone who had written the phrase "spread love" on the soles of their feet. Call me a pervert, but my first thought was, "then how come those legs aren't spread?" And that's when the idea hit me to do a spread eagle shot with the words "spread love" written along the insides of my thighs.

There's just something about a spread eagle shot that is so matter-of-fact. It's inviting, but it's also shameless. I think that's why a lot of people disparage it. It's too blatantly sexual. But that's what I love about it. There's no dancing around the issue - this shot is about sex. Maybe not the act itself, but certainly its direct implication. And there's something refreshing and free about that.

I imagine this image would make a bigger splash if the model were female, but I do what I can with what I have. I think it would be fantastic if this shot started a trend among all those who hold a liberal view toward pornography and human sexuality. Those who think the true obscenity in our culture is violence, not pornography. Those who embrace and celebrate sex and its role in providing pleasure in people's lives.

Or, just all those who love spread eagle shots and want to share that love with the world. So if you're one of those people, go ahead and take all your clothes off. Grab a marker (tip: use a washable marker) and write the words "spread love" along your inner thighs (remember to write from your right knee to your left, unless you're going to be shooting in a mirror). Then spread your legs and take a picture of yourself. Finally - and this is very important - upload it to the internet, and share it with the world!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nudism vs. Naturism

Question: Is there a difference between nudism and naturism?

Short Answer: The terms carry slightly different connotations, but practically speaking, they may be used interchangeably.

Long Answer: There is no official consensus about how and why and in what contexts each of the two terms is used, or where their definitions overlap. In some cases, "naturism" can be understood to be the European analog of "nudism", and so the two terms are really interchangeable. When somebody says that they are a naturist, or are practicing naturism, then unless they go into more detail, you may infer that they are really just indicating that they are a nudist, or are practicing nudism.

That having been said, some people do differentiate between the two terms. Naturism seems to take on an added connotation above and beyond nudism - one that may, depending on who you ask, encompass associations with outdoor recreation and/or a "healthy living" perspective. By this logic, you could consider all naturists to be nudists, but not all nudists to necessarily be naturists.

Some people prefer the term "naturism" because of its connotation with nature - it is a more innocuous (and less conspicuous) word to use in mixed company, and avoids the stigma that many textiles associate with the word "nude". I, however, prefer the term "nudism" in part because I support transparency - if the lifestyle is about going nude, then why not just own up to it, instead of trying to beat around the bush with less suggestive, and thus more opaque, terms?

I also prefer "nudism" because it doesn't carry the added weight of "naturism"'s connotation with nature. Not that I don't like that connotation - as a nudist, I am very pro-nature. But I find that it can be a bit limiting in some respects, as if to suggest that if you practice at home, indoors, or if you live what some may deem an unhealthy lifestyle (e.g., one that involves drinking, smoking, lazing about instead of getting exercise and fresh air and eating healthy), or if you engage in arguably "un-natural" grooming practices (like shaving), or have any tattoos and/or piercings, then you're not really a part of the lifestyle.

As important as I believe nature is to the enjoyment of nudism, the bottom line is that it all boils down to the fact that what makes nudists and naturists different from the rest of the population is that they like to be nude! So why make it more complicated than that? The term "nudism" is pretty all-inclusive - you don't have to join a club and pay membership dues, or follow any kind of esoteric rules. If you like being nude for anything other than sexual reasons, then you are a nudist! (Not that there's anything wrong with liking to be nude for sexual reasons - it's just that that isn't nudism).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Conversations with a Nudist

Inspired by this article, today we ask an unconventional nudist his opinion on some common nudist taboos.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Let's start with the issue of "clothing optional" versus "nude only" resorts. Do you have a preference?

A: As a die hard nudist, who prefers to be nude wherever and whenever possible, there are times when even I prefer to wear clothes. So I don't really see the problem with a "clothing optional" dress code. After all, it's a vast improvement over "textile only"! And it's more inclusive, right? On the other hand, I think nudists and would-be nudists sometimes need a little push, to maintain the proper environment of a nudist venue. What's nudism without naked bodies? It should be a soft push - not "disrobe or get out!" - but a push nonetheless. That's why I support having conditional rules, like "nude only" in the pool area, or in the sauna, or during sports competitions, weather-permitting. That way people can opt out if they're not feeling adventurous, but if they want the full experience, they'll have to join in.

Q: As any man who has ever considered engaging in nudism knows, the fear of getting an erection can be the source of much anxiety. How do you feel about nudists' approach toward erections?

A: The default policy among nudists on erections is to cover them up, but I'm not sure this is the best approach. Like nudity, arousal is a state of being, not doing. Sexual behavior is frowned upon in nudist contexts for legitimate reasons, but sometimes arousal occurs unexpectedly. Although it should not be encouraged, rushing to cover up just emphasizes the idea that there is something vulgar or shameful about the male genitalia in its engorged state. On the contrary, like flushed skin or hardened nipples, it is a natural and beautiful part of the human anatomy. So why hide it?

Q: Why, indeed. On the other hand, it could encourage a more sexually-charged atmosphere. Do you think nudists are too strict when it comes to the topic of sex?

A: Not necessarily. My views occupy a subtle middle ground. I think we should strive for a compromise between a sex-positive approach and a family-friendly atmosphere. I don't claim that will be easy, however. What I don't want to see is nudism being swallowed up by the swinger lifestyle. I believe that life is a sensual experience, and I think nudism is compatible with that view, but out-and-out sexual activity is another matter. When I engage in nude recreation, I want to relax with friends, and play outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. I don't want to be propositioned by strangers looking for sexual encounters.

Q: I'm sure a lot of nudists feel the same way. You said that your view of life as "a sensual experience" is compatible with nudism. What's your opinion on exhibitionism?

A: To be perfectly honest, I am an exhibitionist. But before you jump to conclusions, I'd like to state that I don't regard the stereotype of the trench coat flasher with much esteem. I find the idea of "exposure" to be exciting, but not purely in a sexual way. Besides, even the fear of a negative reaction is enough to trigger anxiety. That's why I like nudism - I can be exposed in a welcoming atmosphere. That doesn't mean that I'm constantly aroused - 95% of the time I'm engaged in nude recreation, I'm not even thinking about exhibitionism. But if it adds a little spice to the experience, like the jalapeno on top of your burrito, then all the better. I'd be surprised if a large percentage of nudists weren't exhibitionists to at least some extent. As long as they're capable of behaving themselves, and following the rules against open sexual displays, where's the harm?

Q: I'm definitely getting the sense that you walk a fine line between what one may consider "conservative" and "progressive" views of the nudist lifestyle. Are you more likely to support beauty pageants or body acceptance?

A: I don't think beauty pageants are evil in and of themselves, but body acceptance is definitely important to the nudist ethos. I'm a person who appreciates the beauty of the human body, but I don't believe you need to be "beautiful" by anyone's standards in order to be happy, or to enjoy yourself, or just to be comfortable in your own skin. If you look good (or think you look good), that's a bonus, not a requirement for living. Nobody deserves to be criticized for their looks. Everybody has bad hair days - even supermodels - but that doesn't mean you have to give up on it being a good everything else day.

Q: I like that approach! We've talked about exhibitionism - how do you feel about voyeurism? Is it okay to look at people's bodies?

A: Sure! Witnessing the great variety of bodies people have is one of the hallmarks of the nudist experience. As long as you're polite - no staring or rude insults, and no sexual behavior or creepy come-ons - there's nothing wrong with looking. And occasionally you're bound to see something you like. That's one of the privileges of being a nudist. Being able to acknowledge the beauty of the human body is one of the things that separates nudists from the rest of the population. In the textile world, voyeurism is too often accompanied by an invasion of privacy, but nudists don't consider the sight of their naked bodies to be private in the same way.

Q: What about so-called "gawkers" - non-nudist outsiders who get a thrill from peeking at nudists? Nudists aren't generally kind to them getting an eyeful, are they?

A: No, not generally. Nudism isn't really a spectator sport - unless you're actually playing a spectator sport nude - and having people peering over the fence snickering at you is rude and uncomfortable. Those people deserve a stern warning. But otherwise, I think a lot of people are just really curious about nudism, even if they're not ready to try it themselves. Sometimes they respond in an immature way, but I think that can be part of the long process of acceptance. What the world needs is more exposure to nudism, not less. Except insofar as it protects us from very real external hostilities, I think it's time for nudism to go mainstream, and stop hiding itself behind tall fences in hidden compounds on the outskirts of nowhere.

Q: That's ambitious! Now, you said that nudists don't consider their bodies to be private, and that nudism needs more exposure. I'm curious what your opinion on photography in nudist venues is.

A: I said that nudists don't consider the sight of their naked bodies to be private, but even that is too often restricted to narrow contexts. Nudists seem to have an unholy fear of cameras. As a photographer, my opinion may not reflect the majority of nudists, but I think this is extremely unfortunate. The fact that there are a lot of unscrupulous voyeurs out there prevents me from photographing one of my favorite subjects - nude recreation. And it's ironic, because of all people, why should a nudist care if somebody snaps a picture of them naked?

Q: Right. Why do you think they care?

A: It's a complicated issue. Some nudists keep their lifestyle a secret, and are afraid that they would lose family, friends, or their job, if it should get out that they enjoy nude recreation. Frankly, I think the solution to this is for nudists to come out en masse. There are plenty of perfectly normal people in the population who are nudists - not freaks or fringe perverts - and the more the public realizes this, the less stigma people will be exposed to just for engaging in nudism. That more people would probably become interested in nudism as a result of its increased awareness is just a bonus!

Other people are concerned about anonymous perverts on the internet doing "unholy" things with their pictures. I don't know how to say this more delicately, but...who cares? Who does that hurt? To me, it seems to be nothing more than an extension of the puritanical mindset that envisions sex as a sin and a vice - that for somebody to experience pleasure from an unapproved source is unacceptable, and that we have a social responsibility to prevent that from happening. But if you ask me, if some anonymous stranger who I will almost certainly never meet - or even speak to! - happens to derive a little bit of enjoyment in what could quite likely be an otherwise dull and depressing life, just from viewing a picture of me, that's no skin off my back. More power to them.

Q: That's a noble - even humanitarian - perspective. But are there limits? What about children? Do you think it's acceptable to photograph children in nudist contexts?

A: I think it's important that we all take the necessary precautions to protect our children from the dangers that lurk out there in the "wilderness" of modern society. But I also think it's our responsibility not to take those precautions too far, to the point that they're doing more harm than good. Photographs do not capture people's souls. They're just images. And yet, it's become very rare to see depictions and advertisements of the nudist lifestyle that feature children. And I think this does a grave disservice to the lifestyle.

A lot of people question if nudism is appropriate for children, when the truth that any parent knows, is that children are literally born nudists. They have to be taught to wear clothes. People also frequently confuse nudism for an adult lifestyle. What are we telling the world when the only people who appear in nudist images are adults? We're giving them the impression that when we say nudism is "family-friendly", we're lying to them. And then when people do occasionally see an image of a child engaged in nudism, it's that much more alarming. I think nudists need to embrace nudist photography featuring children, to show the world that we have nothing to hide. Because nudism needs children - they're what's keeping it wholesome and pure.

Q: Thank you for your time. This has been a very enlightening discussion. I'm sure it will give me lots to think about over the next few days!

A: It was a pleasure!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fitness, Virility, Nudism, and Revolution

Honestly, I considered shooting these without the erection. I even considered putting on a pair of briefs, to cover the nudity and make them more accessible to a wider audience, as a "safe" demonstration of the aims of fitness and physique. But in my work, the art always runs the show. The shots were just more interesting with the erection, and I find it counter-productive to cover up the human body when you're putting it on display. These shots are honest, and if some people can't handle the truth, then it's their misfortune to be distanced from it.

As far as realism goes, it's difficult to keep up an erection for an extended period of time when you're exercising (the rest of your body needs that blood flow), but this isn't a documentary of a fitness regime, it's a symbolic representation of what fitness stands for. What it aims for. And, quite frankly, I think there's a sexual component inextricably linked to that. It's not PC to say so, but I'm concerned with reality, not illusion. There's something instinctively sexual about the virility of a finely toned body - by the presence of the erection, I'm merely making explicit what usually remains implied. And while some will argue the merits of a more subtle approach, part of my intention is to force people to think about that sexual link, when most of the time it passes through the subconscious mind unnoticed.

I think the ancient Greeks understood that the human body is a work of art - especially when sculpted to perfection (and I'm talking about flesh, not marble). They painted and sculpted representations of it, but they also celebrated its source, in the form of athletic competitions ("Olympic Games") that were an equal blend of aesthetics and practical demonstration - the virtue of beauty not just as a theoretical principle, but as a pragmatic one as well. I might gain some enemies by saying this, but I think this is what modern nudism should be about. We should resurrect the ancient Greek ideals that link beauty with bodies. I'm not opposed to the principle of body acceptance - I think people who do not have sculpted physiques should in no way be criticized or disadvantaged, or made to feel inferior, and there's no reason their bodies can't be celebrated as beautiful in their own way. But I don't want to pretend that there are not benefits to be gained from putting physical work into your body, and that one of those benefits is the aesthetic principle of beauty.

I would love for modern nudism to incorporate the tradition of admiring beautiful bodies into their curriculum. It doesn't have to be in the form of the much-maligned beauty pageants of the past, but sports competitions - like volleyball tournaments and nude races - are a great start. It may even be a good way to get younger demographics - athletic types more or less in the prime of their youth - to join nudism. Along with this adoption of the notion of "body beauty" it would follow that cameras and nude photography would have to be re-accepted into the lifestyle. Instead of a blanket prohibition, there would be an allowance for those wishing to capture the beauty of the human body on film. I find few themes more inspiring than beautiful bodies photographed in the practice of nudism, and yet modern nudism is a huge obstacle to this discipline.

I feel as though it is not "kosher" to talk about beautiful bodies in a climate where body image disorders are an epidemic, and especially not to talk about the sexual appeal of bodies when you practice a lifestyle that goes to great pains to divest the public of the notion that there is any intrinsic connection between naked bodies and sexual feelings. I do not intend to be a maverick, a subversive agent, though it may be true that I am. I am certainly not unsympathetic to the plights of those who do experience body image distortions, or an inordinate amount of stress and pressure to adhere to unrealistic standards of beauty, or to those who do practice a lifestyle centered around nudity that would be thrown into chaos and destruction with the introduction of sex.

I am merely acting from a perspective in which aesthetic, erotic beauty - of the human form - is a priority. It is a priority to me because it affects me very profoundly, in a way that I could only describe as rapturous. Happiness is a vague and elusive feeling. Companionship is hard to find, and rife with complication. Beauty, in my eyes, is pure, and total. I choose to pursue it, and yet I find my pursuit frustrated at nearly every turn, by outside agents - agents of a society that is either prudish to an extreme, or otherwise obsessed with vulgarity. I do not prioritize the pursuit of beauty over the well-being of others, but neither do I believe that the pursuit of beauty is inherently damaging to others. To whatever extent beauty may cause another problems, I am willing to address those problems and search for a solution whereby the suffering of others, and of society on the whole, is alleviated, without obstructing the pursuit of beauty, and without contributing to societal decay by humoring the toxic neuroses of others.

Tell me, then, how there is anything wrong in what I am or what I do, or those ways in which I might propose to remodel society, or certain subsets of it, for my convenience, but not my convenience alone? And if there is nothing, then please explain to me why the public obstinately refuses to stand aside of my way.