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The problem with nudity, is that there is no problem

(Published by The Malay Mail on 12 September – censorship rules ironically prevented the photos from inclusion in the original article!)

At least not in Europe. I was telling my Malaysian friend who was visiting us in Paris recently how we ended up camping next to a nudist beach in Corsica this summer. Imagine my surprise when she trumped my story with talk of nudists in Malaysia.

“And it wasn’t just nude sunbathing” she continued, revelling in the effect this sensational news was having around the breakfast table, but “an international naked sports event” hosted in Penang with participants from Burma, Philippines and Malaysia as far as she could recall.

I watched the YouTube clip “Penang Nude Sports Games 2014” (just to confirm she wasn’t making it up) of the gamely competitors performing “crab-walks” and “sprints”, in all their naked glory, along the palm-fringed shores of Penang National Park. Funny. Although the “Gangham style horse-dance” featuring a lady wearing nothing but body-paints riding her naked stallion bareback across a sandy stretch of Teluk Kampi was a little odd. You never know, this unusual ‘sport’ might be just the thing to kick-start the 2016 Olympics on the beaches of Rio.

Laugh we may, but I understand this naked sports-fest provoked outrage (at the government level at least) with talk of jail sentences for the Malaysians involved. According to section 509 of Malaysia’s Penal Code Act 574 — a “word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a person” — carries a maximum five years in jail, a fine, or both.

Now I personally wouldn’t bare my bits in public but I don’t have a problem with others that do, provided it’s in the right place. Our naked Olympians were evidently enjoying their nudity, however they were daft to choose Malaysia — where ‘more not less is best’ when it comes to dress code — to get their kit off, even if the location was remote.

France (unsurprisingly) is very supportive of the nudist movement. It kicked off in the 1920s and by the 1950s had its own association called ‘Fédération française de naturisme’ that actively promotes “a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.”

As I was saying earlier, purely by accident we camped next to a naturist beach on the French island of Corsica last month. The tiny beach was spilt into “plage textile” and “plage naturiste”, the latter well-marked with signs indicating the nudity zone. A fact we discovered on our first day, when my youngest lost his way and came running back to tell us the news that “people at the end of the beach didn’t have any clothes on!” He was a little confused, very amused but not at all upset.


Camping Villata is a “naturist resort” on the east coast of the French island of Corsica, owner Liliane Agostini told me “to book early” for the 2015 season

The day before we were due to leave I ventured onto the naked side. I received several hard stares for wearing my bikini and I felt quite self-conscious (I learned of the strict no-clothes-on-beach rule later).

I imagined it to be full of beautiful twenty-somethings, but it was very family orientated with people of many differing ages, shapes and sizes, all nude, save for the older boys who I noticed wore board shorts while playing beach volleyball with their dads. Two windsurfers ‘sans textiles’ were out in the bay. A group of ladies sat on their beach towels, chatting with legs demurely crossed. That’s what I saw, all in the name of journalism, naturally.

I spoke to a French mother who was on her way to the campsite reception. This was her family’s fourth visit to the naturist resort Camping Villata. “Why naturist?” I asked her. Without hesitating, she replied: “When you are wearing a bikini people stare at you, your body, more than when you are naked. Being naked, I feel more free, it feels really good.” However, this year they were spending more time on “plage textile”, as her two eldest children, 14 and 11, both in the throes of puberty, had become shy and chose to preserve a little modesty.

Ironic really, that she should feel wearing nothing attracts more privacy, whereas wearing a swimsuit is carte blanche for anyone to ogle.

The skimpy bikinis and Daniel Craig tight speedos on our side of the beach were threads away from nakedness in any event; it made me wonder what all the fuss is about.

Aren’t we all born naked? Doesn’t everyone spend a little time naked each day? Didn’t our ancestors walk the earth for thousands of years without a stitch of cloth? Why shouldn’t people have the right to express themselves through nudity, without the threat of a jail sentence?

The problem with nudity, is that there really is no problem.

“Corsica Nude Sports 2015”?

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