In case you aren’t familiar with the genre, here are some clues from the Web site. The most prominent feature on the splash page is a “Genius Guide to Hair Removal”. (“We braved waxes, strips, lasers, and needles to bring you the six best ways to get follicle-free.” Scary stuff!) There’s important breaking news from the wider world. (“Eminem checks into rehab.”) And serious, soul-searching conversation in the message boards. (“What color eyeshadow should I use?”)
You get the idea.
However, don’t despair. There is real gold inside. Namely, the article mentioned in the headline. The subtitle is “Rebecca Onion gets naked at a naturist colony and receives moral support from a nude 18-year-old.”
Rebecca is the writer (and photographer) of the article. Did I say photographer? Yes, there are photos. But pedos needn’t bother running out to the newsstand to get something new to wank with. There are these dirty little black bars in all the photos, covering (and drawing attention to) all the body parts you’re not supposed to look at. (Which is sort of fitting, since you can find the magazine at your local supermarket, close to the tabloids that use this sort of device so often… the tabloids that appeal so much to the dregs of humanity, such as alien-abduction cultists, crime-story addicts, and fundamentalist preachers.)
Waitaminit. What’s wrong with looking at the places under the black bars? This is a story about nudism, no? Never mind. Forget I even asked.
But seriously, naturism owes Rebecca a sincere round of applause. According to Carolyn Hawkins of the AANR, Rebecca is “the first writer to come to Cypress Cove and actually get naked in order to report the story”. This is definitely not true. Just a little fishing around in my files turns up a 1992 article (from Self magazine) by Amy Engeler who visits the Cove and strips naked. I feel quite sure it’s not the first, either. Indeed, Cypress Cove has been around since 1964, and the plot line of a young female reporter visiting a nudist “colony” and disrobing to get a story has been a cliché at least since Doris Wishman’s 1961 cult classic Diary of a Nudist. Sorry to burst the bubble, Carolyn and Rebecca, but them’s the facts.
However, what I said about Rebecca still goes. Because whether or not she’s the first, she says, “I’d be lying if I said I’m not proud of that.” And better yet, she admits that even though “I can’t say I’m a convert to nudism,” she also says, “I heartily endorse how good it feels to go skinny-dipping.”
Rebecca, if you ever read this, whether you realize it or not, you’re more than halfway there. Most people, in fact, do find that they like being openly naked (if they’ll just give it a try), even though few want to be burdened with the label “nudist” or “naturist”.
But please, Rebecca, don’t ever use that “colony” word. You know how nudists hate it. It’s as offensive to many nudists as “nigger” is to a person of color. Just don’t do it, OK?
All that being said about Rebecca, let’s have an even greater round of applause for Jessica Harpin, the teen nudist the title refers to. She’s the real heroine here, since for almost any teenager in her position, it takes real fortitude in the you-know-what to go public about admitting to the pleasure of being naked. (Something that rhymes with “crass malls”. I’d say “true grit”, but that sounds uncomfortable in this context.)
Jessica’s part of a naturist family, and has been going to the Cove with her parents since she was about seven. Nudity is normal in the family. “We go naked at home,” she says. And Jessica’s been different from many (most) kids raised as nudists. “A lot of kids end up not wanting to take their clothes off anymore once they hit puberty,” she says. “That never really happened to me.”
Inevitably, the article trots out the usual AANR talking points, such as:
- “Naturism opens you up,” Jessica says. “It helps you learn to be comfortable with yourself.”
- Jessica says nudism got her through the awkward years, in some ways. She doesn’t have body issues, she says, because “there are people of all sizes here… you look at [someone’s] mind, and talk to their face.”
- She adds that nudism is a good equalizer because “nobody has to show how rich they are. I’m more comfortable in the nude than when I’m wearing clothes.”
Articles like this one have been appearing in women’s magazines for many years (since 1992, anyhow). (The AANR pays good PR money to see to that.) A little more recently, attention has been moving to the younger demographic, as magazines catering to that have proliferated. Rumor has it there will be a similar article next month in CosmoGIRL as well. Stay tuned.
Originally published August 21, 2005