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nude diningA restaurant scheduled to open in London in June will be the city’s first clothing-optional eating place (London’s first nude restaurant has a waiting list 16,000 names long, The Washington Post, April 22).

That’s a lot of people who are very eager to take off their clothes before eating dinner. And why not? For one thing, they won’t have to worry about what to wear, will they? Despite the many reasons that nude dining makes sense, most Americans won’t be able to get past one thing: Nudity is about sex and voyeurism.

Here’s what the article says: “…the restaurant is not a bunch of guys trying to create naked dining for attention, but more of a nudist social experiment that aims to give people a space to challenge their assumptions about nudity, modernity and what kind of behavior we consider natural. In essence, [the owner] claims, consuming food in public sans clothing is ‘an act of rebellion.’

“’When you get a chance, you take your clothes off,’ [the owner] told The Post. “’When you get in bed, you take your clothes off.  When you go to the beach or a sauna, you take your clothes off. It’s natural.’” (Note to European guy: When Americans get in bed, they were pajamas. When Americans go to the beach, they wear ridiculous, constricting bathing suits—even little children. And, yes, even in saunas, most Americans don’t take off all their clothes, or they at least wrap a towel around their sweaty torsos).

Yep. I’ve been to a lot of nudist resorts and, trust me, you don’t go there to leer at the nude bodies. Oh, you might initially, on the first visit—but it wears off in about a half hour (when you discover that the vast majority of the bodies are not worth leering at, including your own). After the initial thrill/terror passes, you realize it’s the experience—the delicious, relaxing and freeing sensation that comes from not wearing clothing in a social setting. Everyone I know who has tried it enjoys nudism immensely.

Meanwhile, though, on this side of the Atlantic, any mention of social nudity (or, really, nudity of any kind) earns you a leer or a wink or some off-the-wall indication that you must be a sex addict or something just because you like taking your clothes off (or gets you in the Washington Post.) Hey, I am a sex addict (or as close as you’ll come to finding one—the notion of sex addiction is ridiculous and insulting), and not wearing clothes in a social setting is not about sexual arousal. Nudity, especially outdoors, is very sensuous, for sure. But not sexual.

Nude restaurants, nude cruises, nude bowling, nude hiking, nude resorts, nude beaches, nude housekeeping—can we get past the “nude” thing and just take off our clothes?

If you’re not a nudist, why the hell not? Defend yourself! Just kidding. You’re not into it, that’s fine. But what about this pervasive, anti-nude sensibility that makes it impossible for someone (me!) to, say, walk in the woods nude? Or vacuum nude without closing the curtains (see nude pic below the form!)?