Monday, March 9, 2009

Utah Conservatisim: Anatomically Correct is Offensive

Offended neighbors get Utah park statue moved
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah state park moved an American Indian-inspired statue of a humpbacked flute player Thursday after objections that it was offensive because the male figure is anatomically correct.

Officials at Edge of the Cedars State Park moved the sticklike figure from in front of its museum to a spot behind it so it can't been seen from the street, park manager Teri Paul said.

The park, in Blanding, is the site of an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin, as well as the modern-day museum.

The sculpture is a modern interpretation of a Hopi symbol of a flute player. Made by artist Joe Pachak, it has welcomed visitors to the park for 19 years.

It raised objections only recently from a group of Blanding's more conservative residents, who were concerned that the figure has male anatomy, Paul said.  [read the article at USAToday]

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sunlight as a palliative ...

I came across this piece in a magazine I was reading the other day while waiting for coffee at the corner espresso joint.  What caught my eye was the description of the physiological and emotional effects sunlight has on the skin and body.  Just the day before I'd emerged from my bedroom to the sunlight on my back deck and decided to lay out in the sun instead of staying in that darkened room recuperating from my latest round of therapy.  When I finally came in near the end of the afternoon I felt more energized and feeling good about myself than I have in weeks.  
What particularly seemed right was the statement about UV encouraging the release of endorphins . . . the 'feel good' hormones.  Particular to my condition . . . UV also is responsible for Vit D production . . . particularly important to strengthening the bones.  But most of all it just felt so incredibly great to be in the embrace of the sunlight.

Sunbathing on my back deck

Sun tanning process : Understanding the physical and psychological benefits

Actually sunbathing is very relaxing, sensual - giving off a feeling of having a solar massage and leaving us with a kind of sense of unwinding and happiness and perhaps even peace. 

(Note: this may be related to an increase in the release of endorphins after a dose of ultraviolet rays). 

The sun tanning process feels good on a psychological level too. A number of sensual affects have been noted..women may feel more physically attractive-even thinner, men may feel more masculine, and emotional good health is boosted. 

The skin is a medium for emotional expression:

Also, interestingly enough - the skin is essential to self-esteem, the skin is a medium for emotional expression, sun tanned skin could suggest wealth; success and tanned skin could lead to social advantages. Looking at this we can see that having a tan is tied in with how we see ourselves and also with how we think other people see us. It's like a fashion statement. 

There are several goals in mind among the sun tanning population when they go to tan. 

Health is not the only benefit of sun tanning:

There are a variety of reasons people who want to tan, also want to tan quickly. 

  • there are people who tan to play outdoor sports
  • there are those who want to prepare their bodies for a beach holiday
  • some folks who just simply want to look good and feel good
  • people who seek relaxation
  • then there are those who are aware of the health issues and have skin conditions from psoriasis and acne.

Don't you think too, that the modern urge to sun tan may well be a form of compensation?

Some of UV's positive effects: Production of Vitamin D

Many people now live under semi-permanent protection from Ultra Violet rays leading perhaps to a 'UV deficit'. Scientific findings on some of UV's positive effects such as the production of Vitamin D necessary for healthy bones, improved blood flow and the easing of certain skin conditions, seem to support our feeling of 'urging' to tan as form of compensation. Some practical reasons also motivate people to tan. 

Boosting the skin's protection 

A program of seasons indoors boosts the skin's protection mechanisms, building up the naturally occurring melanin and the thickening of the skin's 'horny' layer. A surprisingly number of people have sensitive 'skin type 2' and wish to have a controlled and gentle tanning programme (like me). Unfortunately 'skin types 1's' are not allowed to tan at all.

Mainly, to tan is do what comes naturally. If we approach it sensibly we have nothing to lose. The body itself has its own defences, as we've seen, the main one actually being the tan itself, guarding our skins health by moulding us to our environment.

New health benefits are appearing each year in reports made by scientists discussing biological effects of light, not just UV rays by invisible light. Some findings are . . . Sunlight is vital for good health. Sensible use of UV rays (solarium and sun) are far more beneficial to health than previously realised. Although unacceptable risks do exist they are usually from over- exposure or abuse. More serious health threats come from under-exposure. UV light could be described as 'natural medicine'. UV light brings down high blood pressure. Vitamin D oral supplements not found effective, only vitamin D produced in the body from UV rays. (Boston summit USA 2001-39 lectures-60 scientists). 

Interesting stuff. Let's wait for the next summit.

Article: Everyone’s a Little Bit Nudist

Originally published in the Feb 27, 2009 issue of  the Garfield Messenger, a local Seattle High School Newspaper.  Members of the SLUGS (myself included) were interviewed for the article.

Everyone’s a Little Bit Nudist

Show yourself, you little textile!

Kate Guenther


Published February 27, 2009

Some people regard nakedness as a private matter. They shower naked—alone. They dance naked —alone. They receive a buttocks-focused massage while naked—with the massage therapist, but otherwise alone.

Others find a certain dangerous appeal in nakedness. These thrill-seekers run naked through the streets at night, teasing neighbors with glimpses of their pale, fleshy secrets.

Still others see nakedness as a lifestyle. They go without clothing in the belief that the practice nurtures the mind, body, and soul.

These are the naturists.

Naturists believe that the human body is not bad, ugly, or illegal. They enjoy the world at its most natural by experiencing nature in the nude. Unlike the term nudist, which merely indicates a preference for being nude, the term naturist indicates the choice of an active, natural lifestyle that includes indoor and outdoor clothing-optional recreation.

In Mount Vernon, the Lake Associates Recreation Club (LARC) boasts hiking trails and waterfalls. Kaniksu Ranch hosts the annual Bare Buns Fun Run. Forestia Snoqualmie, near Issaquah, offers the annual Nudestock, a naked day in the park with live music. Featured bands include the Boys of Greenwood Glen, a “drinking band with an Irish problem.”

Unfortunately, most resorts in Washington aren’t open year-round, and the temperature at Oregon’s legal nude beaches isn’t always ideal for bare skin. Naturists have to look elsewhere during the winter months. They often look to nude recreation events clubs, which provide the events without the vacation price tag.

Sun Lovers Under Gray Skies (SLUGS) is a Pacific Northwest club devoted to clothing-optional activities. The SLUGS website features an events calendar filled with nude swims.

Naturist websites frequently refer to the welcoming environments of their respective resorts and clubs. Richard, current president of the SLUGS, said part of being a naturist is recognizing that people come in all shapes and sizes.

“Feeling ashamed of your body is a learned behavior,” he said. “It is not healthy.”

The modern quest for less shame and more health began in Germany, where nudist colonies sprouted up in the early 1900s. Then, in 1929, a German named Kurt Barthel moved to the U.S. and founded the American League for Physical Culture. It was the first nudist organization in the U.S. and still exists today, although it operates under a different name—the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). The AANR and The Naturist Society (TNS), founded by Lee Baxandall in 1980, are the two leading naturist organizations in the U.S.

Today, the AANR has more than 50,000 members in North America; TNS has 182 members in its Facebook group and an unknown (but presumably great) number of actual members.

Despite the popularity of both, recruiting for naturist activities can be tricky.

The AANR website references those universal experiences of young nudism —skinny-dipping and streaking. It promises that participating in clothing-optional activities will renew that carefree feeling. It also includes pictures of attractive nude families treading water in sparkling cerulean pools.

The LARC website provides reassuring testimonials from first-time nudists. One woman wrote that she felt safe at the LARC because “where would anyone conceal a gun?”

In another testimonial, a woman named Alice Anderson assuaged many a first-timer’s fears when she wrote, “They [the nudists] looked me in the eyes when we spoke.”

Anderson also wrote of the shame she felt toward her body for decades. After years of unhealthy dieting, she decided to attend a clothing-optional barbecue with a new friend. Upon arrival, she was amazed to see people of all ages having family-friendly fun together without clothes, embarrassment or judgment.

It didn’t take long for her to join in.

To be clear, the fun at AANR- and TNS-associated clubs and functions is always locker-room appropriate. All laws still apply. Lewd acts in public are still illegal, although the porn industry may imply otherwise.

Michael, a member of the SLUGS, said that the club is strict regarding public displays of affection, but that some non-AANR resorts allow suggestive dancing and other questionable activities.

Outsiders might believe that naturism itself is a suggestive activity. But Michael said the erotic appeal of being nude with nude people faded within ten minutes of his first naturist experience. After that, he simply had an overwhelming feeling of “being home.”

“I knew what the rules were and the rules made absolute sense for the first time since childhood,” he said. “I was free to be the child I once was.”

Michael praised chaste social nudity as a way to combat the media’s ever-sexual portrayal of women. He said television, magazines, and movies teach boys that the female body is always erotic, turning curiosity into sexual perversion.

Richard said that textiles, or people who prefer to remain clothed, react in one of three ways when he tells them he is a naturist. Some react in a negative, uninformed manner; some say they don’t see anything wrong with naturism but wouldn’t participate; and some are impressed with the courage necessary for the lifestyle.

Fear of the first reaction is why many naturists don’t publicize their preference for nude recreation.

“Some employers have codes of conduct that limit the activities they allow their employees to participate in,” Richard said. “They might misjudge the naturist activities for something lewd.”

But as they say at TNS, “nude is not lewd.” Nude is also not crude. Even naturists’ babies aren’t allowed to defecate on public property—so they wear (gasp!) diapers.

“No one wants a rampant pooper decorating the place,” Richard said. “Necessity for clothes is not lost on nudists.”

Shirley Gauthier, longtime AANR member, echoed Richard’s sentiments about necessary clothing. Her lifestyle is “nude whenever possible and clothed when appropriate, with behavior I never have to apologize for.”

Gauthier volunteers for the AANR Government Affairs Team (GAT), which works with communities to protect, preserve, and promote nude recreation.

“Often a piece of legislation sponsored by a concerned legislator and directed toward a strip bar will have potential unintended consequences for family nude recreation,” she said. “We then approach the legislator to consider the impact that the bill might have on nude recreation.”

Efforts like Gauthier’s make it clear that naturism is more than just a secondary hobby.

“I wish I could better explain the enormous emotional release and healing that my experiences with SLUGS have brought me,” Michael said. “I feel more spiritually and emotionally healthy than I have for most of my life.”

Event: UNCLAD - The Fine Art of the Figure

“UNCLAD - The Fine Art of the Figure” is an annual exhibit celebrating the nude figure in art. This highly anticipated annual event draws thousands of visitors together each year for an experience that is unexpected, somewhat provocative, and highly engaging. The intrinsic nature of the subject has motivated artists to explore and push their boundaries, producing a show that inspires, opens minds, starts discussions, stirs emotions, and touches lives.
Since its inception, UNCLAD has been a phenomenon that has taken on a life of its own. Eight years ago, Gayle Picken, who was married to a sculptor and managed their Camano Island gallery, decided to celebrate her husband’s birthday in an innovative fashion. She invited several local artists to participate in a nude art show at their gallery and, much to her surprise, her phone started ringing off the hook. Artists she didn’t even know asked if they could be in the show, excited they had found a venue for displaying nudes. That first year, 29 artists participated, crowds poured into the gallery, and the show was born.
Since then, the show has grown exponentially in terms of numbers of participating artists, quality and diversity of the artwork, and attendance. Last year the show featured artwork by 95 artists from across North America and attracted over 3000 visitors. More than 30 volunteers helped with planning, promoting, setting up, and greeting visitors during the show. 
As UNCLAD expands to become a festival known throughout the country, the core idea remains the same as it did during the very first show. The stark-naked truth is — that this show called UNCLAD is all about having fun in the business of art. For so many people–artists, art enthusiasts, and the community in general–UNCLAD provides excitement, pleasure, anticipation, and a great source of inspiration. 

Our mission with UNCLAD: to create a beautiful art event that engages people in the world of art and inspires artists to push forward.
Nude Showing will be on Saturday March 14th from 7PM to 9PM
Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center
Address: 27130 102nd Ave NW, Stanwood
Driving Directions: View Map
1. From I-5, take Exit 212 (Stanwood - Camano Island) and head West.
2. In about 7 miles, you’ll come to a light at 102nd Ave NW (Bank of America & Bob’s Market). Take a RIGHT on 102nd Ave NW.
3. The Floyd Norgaard hall is 2 blocks on your left. Parking is available at the church lot behind the building.
Where to Stay in Stanwood:
The Medallian Inn in Arlington is only 15 minutes from the UNCLAD 2009 show. For reservations call: 360-657-0500. Mention the UNCLAD art show for a special rate!
Experience 4-star luxury at the Tulalip Resort featuring 170 spacious rooms and suites, delicious dining choices, the world-class T Spa and the outstanding work of Tulalip tribal artists. Only 30 minutes south of the Unclad show. Reservations: 866-716-1762 or
Over the Mark Clark Bridge on Camano Island, there are several Bed & Breakfast Inns to choose from. Turn your visit into an island getaway!
For more information about the other fine Bed & Breakfast Inns on the island, see Camano Island Lodging 

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