Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Hail the body beautiful

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Nudism is when we are stripped of our most obvious status signifiers - and we are all equal. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Nudism is when we are stripped of our most obvious status signifiers - and we are all equal. Photo / Michael Cunningham

I would love to have been blessed with a killer Cindy Crawford/Rachel Hunter body. You know the type - curvy, topped with great boobs and tailed with a rounded butt but moderated by a tiny waist and long legs.

Girls with bodies like that have options. The dumb ones can be a rich man's darling, lounging about in a teeny white bikini on a multimillion-dollar gin palace, like a modern-day bowsprit.

They can be worshipped and adored and spoiled with private jets and oversized gems and couture gowns until such time as their beauty fades and they're upgraded, like the yacht and the cars, for the next best thing.

The smart ones realise their time at the top is not going to last forever and that, eventually, those perky upright boobs are going to look like walk socks with golf balls at the bottom of them, so they parlay their gorgeousness into a superannuation fund.

They set up their own businesses, built off their own fabulousness, selling promises to people who think that by buying the product they'll get the package.

Whichever option these freaks of nature choose, the savvy option or the easy road, you can rest assured you're not going to find them sunbathing at Ladies Bay.

People who look good without their clothes are few and far between, and they know their value. They're not giving anything away free.

Most of us don't look all that flash naked. We can look okay in our clothes. We can truss up the saggy bits, suck in the lumpy bits and elongate the dumpy bits through artful and judicious choice of clothing.

Naked, however, we've got nowhere to hide. We're on our own. The babe with the fabulous legs is revealed as the flat-chested neurotic with an eating disorder. The overbearing chief executive on the multimillion-dollar salary is exposed as the sad dude with the paunch, the grey pubes and the moobs.

And that is one of the reasons why naturism, or nudism, is appealing to some. Without our uniform of clothing - and the clothing we choose to wear is as much a uniform as any army's - we're on our own.

Stripped of our most obvious status signifiers, we are all equal. There's also the fact that swimming naked feels good. And once you get past the initial "Good lord" reaction to a group of naked people, the shock factor wears off pretty quickly and they start looking like the ordinary humans they really are. I know this because I had to interview members of a naturist sun club back in the day.

Most people don't have a problem with other people getting their clothes off - provided the filthies, as Darrell Turner calls them, don't spoil things. Darrell, who is doing his PhD on nudism as a form of deviance and is a nudist himself, says the exhibitionists, mainly men, who take over nudist beaches and turn them into pick-up places are a real issue. Perhaps there needs to be a little more self-policing among the nudist community to ensure clothes-free beaches become family-friendly. Or naturist families should swamp Ladies Bay, crowding out the unsavoury element, a sort of flesh-mob.

I think the council should bow to the inevitable, too, and put up signs warning that certain beaches are known as nudist beaches. That way, if you're offended by the sight of naked bodies, you can follow the advice of the gentleman in that old song The Streak and say: "Don't look, Ethel."

- Herald on Sunday

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