Monday, July 14, 2008

Article: Get naked, be happy

Posted in the Ventura County Reporter


“I think therefore I am.”

— Philosopher Rene Descartes

I am beautiful. I am happy. I am.

In the last issue of the VC Reporter we printed the article Naked Ambition, the story of local nudists who want Bates Beach to return to its former iconic self, a clothing-optional destination.

Not only did we write the story, but I personally attended this nudist gathering.

And there I was, in a summer dress, and everyone around me was naked: Tall, short, young, old, thin, overweight, white, black, hairy and the hairless, and every body type and ethnicity in between. While some were more willing to exhibit their nudity in front of the camera, the one thing they all had in common was that they were happy.

When it comes to body image, these people seem to be just fine about their appearance or they were hiding it really well. But I noticed a person can’t really hide shame when they are naked.

Why can’t my generation, the children of the baby boomers, appreciate every body type?

We have come to some foregone conclusion that if our bodies aren’t perfect then we need to be ashamed of being naked or being seen naked.

How did we get this way?

Maybe we should turn off our televisions and start looking at the world around us.

Now, I am not condoning an unhealthy lifestyle that leads to weight gain, but if we look around us, none of us are perfect. We are all getting older, we are all dealing with slowing metabolism, and we all hate gravity.

But why do we feel shame about these natural processes?

The human body is a beautiful thing. From our youth to our twilight years, the body is the essence of life. And when I was around these naturists, it was not about staring at what is typically covered. It was about being open and free, supposedly the way before Adam and Eve ate that apple.

And for those out there who think only older people get naked, let the truth be told, these nudists have been shedding their apparel for most of their life, most of them starting in their 20s.

And being naked means being sexual?

Well, not with these folks. I think the grill was getting more action with the assorted hot dogs and buns.

These people weren’t acting sexual. No innuendos, no vulgar comments, nada. And to be quite honest, I haven’t heard of any sexual assaults upon these nudists, but rather people who are clothed.

If we want to put to put the idea of being a naturist or being critical of one into perspective, think of this philosophy.

It appears that the things we love or hate most about others are the very same things we love or hate most about ourselves, which leaves me with a few final thoughts about the situation at Bates Beach.

One that pertains to the Golden Rule: Treat others the way we want to be treated. By the same token, if we are critical of others, then we should expect to be criticized. If we are judgmental of others, then we should expect or even desire to be judged.

But in truth, no one really wants that.

Then I thought of a phrase that really seems to sum it up for all nudists who do not want to be judged, just as they do not judge others: Get naked, be happy.

For them, it’s really that simple and for that reason alone the clothing-optional status of the Bates Beach should be restored by state officials.

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