Regardless of what you may think of nude bicyclists, nude maids, or nudists in general (“naturists” for the politically correct out there), consider this the next time you step out of the shower or the tub: there’s a nude in your bathroom. You.
Granted, you probably have hair sprouting here and there, but ultimately, unless you engage in some unique form of clothed cleansing, you’re just as naked on a regular basis as the rest of us. Perhaps that means lunging to and from the clad to naked state in the comfort of your bathroom; perhaps it means wandering through the house in puris naturalibus; or perhaps it means riding buck-naked down the streets of Coventry in England on the back of a horse. Whatever the extent, we are all, under our various states of dress, as naked as the day we arrived on this earth: a wet, squirming bundle of vulnerable humanity.
So why not enjoy it — or better yet, take advantage of it? There’s strength in nudity. Just look at the attention these bare bicyclists drew:
Gathering June 7th at Sunset Beach in Vancouver, they took off their clothes and took to their bikes to protest our dependency on oil. Vancouver is the birthplace of naked bike riding, at least as social action; a group called Artists for Peace originated the practice in January (yes, January), 2002. Oddly, in Spain, the Manifestación Ciclonudista rode naked in June of that same year, also protesting oil dependency, but neither group was aware of the other. Nevertheless, the movement grew: the first international World Naked Bike Ride occurred in 2004, and one can now join a World Naked Bike Ride in over 20 countries around the world.
Granted, the power of nakedness can be used for good or evil, as shown by the nude maid of Tampa, Florida. This entrepreneurial young woman demonstrated her clear sense of the power of nudity by charging a middle-aged man (whose wife was away) $100 an hour to clean in the nude, and then allegedly stealing over $40,000 in jewellery. It makes one wonder where she hid the loot.
Has this naked appraisal of nudity left you uncomfortable? Perhaps not everyone is ready to enjoy its power. Fine, then just enjoy the perks, such as meandering along Vancouver’s Wreck Beach at Pacific Spirit Park in bare-bottomed bliss, or, for those of us who prefer indoor bathing, skinnydipping at Newton Wave Pool in Surrey. There, for the low price of $10 per adult or, if under 19, free, one can join the Skinnydipper Recreation Club. Members may frolic naked in the indoor waves on the second Saturday of every month from 9:30 to 11 p.m., beginning this July 12th. It’s taken a long time for the agreement to be reached: the club was told in March, 2003 that their skinnydipping privileges were revoked, possibly thanks to a story about their swims that ran in the local paper. It took a lawsuit to get their rights back.
But I’m not a nudist!, you may argue, as you clasp your towel more tightly to yourself. True, to be a real naturist, you must step beyond the privacy of your home, alone, and out in the flesh with your family or friends, or even strangers. Perhaps you’ll take part in one of Spencer Tunick’s mass nude photography shoots, rest at the Four Seasons Nudist Resort 40 minutes from Toronto, or join a Polar Bear swim in the buff. We each decide at what level we will embrace our nakedness, but the reality is that underneath the Armani suits, the Value Village vintage shirts, the lululemon labels, there is a stark-ravingly real, authentic nude. We’re each of us part of the nude club: it’s free to all, regardless of age, race, or gender, and we became card-carrying members the moment we were born. If only there was somewhere to put the card.