Guest Blog by: Nicolette Barischoff
After I first came out as a naturist to my family (made up of Burning Man hippies and ultra-conservative Christians likewise), reactions ranged from “Yeah, I somewhat figured,” all the way to “Did Not you do this a few years past?”
I have pretty much always been nude. It’s hard to pin down when or how that happened. My parents were both fairly conventional non denominational Christians, and the importance of modesty was stressed at me early and often. It just did not actually require. I remember countless lectures on the sanctity of a girl’s modesty, the mysterious and unexpected weight of obligation which was a Woman’s Body. “You’ve a woman’s body, now, you can’t simply go around without thinking!” I recall quiet, careful, urgent asides reminding me how vital was my job in making certain that guys weren’t frightened / filled with unshakable lust / given erroneous notions about me. I wasn’t trying to embarrass them, I just never quite deciphered what there was to be embarrassed about.
Quite simply, my brain fires in random directions to make my muscles do all sorts of bullshit that I did not request them to. I don’t walk; I use a wheelchair to get around, or if I am at home, my hands and knees. I have always needed more help than most individuals. That usually meant help getting dressed or using a particularly inaccessible restroom. When my parents were not around, that meant help from close-strangers. This modesty, this easily shattered virtue that I was supposed to guard more attentively than a girl guards anything else, had to be drop in an instant if the conditions demanded it.
How, then, was I supposed to button myself back into my modesty after I Had just had a stranger pull my panties up for me? How was I supposed to understand when to care about who was pulling up my panties, and when to not? It didn’t take long for me to understand that nobody had any really great answers. If strangers picked by chance and I was on a naked sailing cruise in the British Virgin Islands 6-7 years could gaze upon my nude body without turning to stone, just who exactly was I protecting? The children? Myself? No, I still didn’t give a shit. Guys? Not even gonna dignify that one.
I suppose what I’m saying is, despite the efforts of my exasperated family, I never learned modesty. It never felt important. I have to lay on a floor to pull my pants up. Am I to lay on the cold linoleum of the bathroom with the warm comfort of the living room’s eighties carpeting just a few feet away? Fuck that. I ‘m used to folks who shouldn’t see me nude seeing me nude. They all lived, and so did I.
Still, I never took that dip and called myself a naturist. Old ideas die hard.
My first ever experience with intentional public nudity would not come until I was twenty one, on one of those big European Faculty tours, faced with my first French plage. The atmosphere was a disclosure. I ‘d understood that European seashores were usually topfree, but I wasn’t anticipating the absolute naturalness of it. Bodies of shapes and sizes, naked to My feelings have not changed much since: with neither snarky comment nor creepy leer. Kids and their mothers.
And their mothers’ mothers.
Grownup sisters. Locals and obvious tourists. And adolescent boys weaving through them all, utterly unfazed, as if they have seen this every day. Because they’ve. I looked over to my newish boyfriend (who would later get promoted to full partner) with a question in my eyes. His response to that question was that it wasn’t up to him. It was my body, and therefore up to me. Up to me. Off the top went, as fast as I could get rid of it.
And, oh, holy crap, there I was. It is strange to comprehend our society does not allow our breasts to feel ocean air. And then that feeling, that sweetness of liberation and exhilaration and daring, passed. Surprisingly fast. And then I was simply a human, one among hundreds, existing as I was most comfortable. I never looked back from that.
Nicolette Barischoff Getting Nude and Painted for BodyPainting Day
I’ve been naked in public a lot since then, among other people and, occasionally, all by myself, the naked voice of reason among a bemused and clothed crowd. The wonderful girls of the Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Gratitude Society were kind enough to compose an article about me. But to date, I’ve never participated in an art project on the scale of Bodypainting Day. On Saturday, I’ll strip to your skin in the centre of Manhattan with a hundred other lovely people, all professionally painted, in full view of a city that could not understand me, and I ‘ll feel more comfortable than I ever do wearing garments.
It is challenging to have an optimistic body image when you are disabled. Individuals approach disability with such a spectrum of assumptions, and thoughts about what you should do or be or how you should behave. And this never includes having a body. That old notion of modesty comes additional hard when people are not used to thinking about what you might look like naked. That’s why I am doing this, why Bodypainting Day is so crucial that you me. It’s the supreme expression of body-positivity. It is artwork and acceptance and independence. It’s an exploration of our relationship to the body, and a direct challenge to the infantile belief that most of us “simply should not be seen naked.”
I genuinely hope you will join me.
Learn more at www.bodypaintingday.org.
About the Writer: She can be reached on Twitter at @NBarischoff, or on her site nbarischoff.com, where she talks about writing, impairment, and body-positivity. She likes being nude, and if that doesn’t irritate you, she likes you also.
Young Naturists & Nudists America
Tags: body image, body painting, feminism, modesty, public nudity, topfreedom and topfree equality
Group: Body Image Blogs, Naked Body Painting and Unclothed Body Art, Naturist Site, Social Nudity Websites
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Guest blogs written entirely for Nudist Portal.