Naked Truth

Social norms regarding nudity in this country have strangely regressed in recent years. For definitional purposes, let’s just use naked and nude interchangeably, to describe unposed, asexual lack of clothing on a human body. 

In the last twenty years since returning to these sun-blessed & bleached shores from a long period of overseas expatriation, it has been astonishing to observe the veils of ‘modesty’ increasingly practised by punters in our public change rooms. And elsewhere.

As a regular pool swimmer, I am exposed, as it were, to the changing habits, pun intended, of my fellow man when he puts his cossie on and takes it off in the communal male change room. Males under the age of about 40 often cover themselves with a towel in the process. Only older blokes seem relaxed about our own nudity. 

My informant from the female change room says that it’s worse there, with grown women leaving for home in wet cossies rather than change, or contorting themselves to cover up all body parts during the process.

In this era of pervasive pornography, with every kind of naked activity on display, you would think people would feel more comfortable in their own skins. But maybe the cover-up is a nervous social reaction against all that licentiousness online?

Male change rooms now even have cubicles for privacy, often used by boys to cater for their natural modesty. But surely developing a healthy attitude to normal nudity should be part of growing up. As in the good ol’ days of my youth!

A new societal paranoia about pedophiles roaming the land ravishing young children is also probably to blame. Out in public spaces, the suspicious look of vigilant parents if I should dare to speak normally to their precious offspring is palpable.

Our English traditions and segregation in schools may have hampered a healthy attitude to outdoor nudity and indeed social mixing generally, but why have we become so excruciatingly modest indoors in the last twenty years?  

Even the iconic male Speedo swimming costume (dick stickers, oh really!), which was ubiquitous in my youth, is now mainly seen as a swim training aid. Recreational swimming elsewhere and on the beach now requires board shorts for guys. 

Strangely though the new fashion in female swimwear is a very revealing g-string with full buttocks on display, which looks like the thin edge of the wedge (another pun intended), towards more promiscuity. But apparently not, au contraire. 

The Bondi swimming baths is leading the puritanical fight with a rear (and front) guard action in this counter-revolution of cover-up, which now seems mandated in both their change rooms? 

Where will it all end?  Go figure.

(Photos by Christine C, many thanks)

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