Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just Like on Betazed

Star Trek fans may recall that the nude wedding is standard on the planet Betazed (Troi's homeword). Mr. and Mrs. Musings were wed fully clothed, but know people who had naked nuptials...

Weddings exposed: Bride and groom bare it all

Lana Gerseten
Columbia News Service
Feb. 20, 2008 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- On a sunny, August day in the Berkshire Mountains, 600 guests stood waiting to witness Pamela and Lee tie the knot. But as the bride walked down the aisle, no one marveled at her wedding dress.

She wasn't wearing one. And Lee, her husband shortly to be, wore little more than a top hat and bowtie. As for the audience, some people wore hats and others had shawls around their shoulders, but most did not dress at all that morning. Only 12 were fully clothed.

"We worked for many months to craft a ceremony that was very expressive of our thoughts and our beliefs," Pamela said. Having a nude wedding was "so expressive of who we are," she said. "It's so natural, it's so unpretentious."

Pamela and Lee, both in their 50s, are part of a growing number of nudists opting to have nude weddings to complement their lifestyle. As nudists, they eat, sleep, exercise, and sometimes work in the raw. For them, nude weddings are simply a natural extension of their everyday life.

At the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), where 50,000 members can now choose from over 270 clothes-free and clothing-optional clubs and resorts throughout the country, nude weddings are more popular than ever.

Staffers at the Kissimmee, Fla.,-based organization say their office had invitations to more than 25 nude weddings last year, up from just one or two a few years back.

Nude weddings have also become commonplace on nude cruises, which have soared in popularity over the last few years. Bare Necessities Tour and Travel, one of the largest clothes-optional cruise lines, regularly charters cruises with over 2,100 passengers, a far cry from the 36 that set sail in 1991. In 1992, when the first large cruise was offered, no requests were made for wedding ceremonies onboard.

On the most recent large cruise, 15 couples had ceremonies at sea. In fact, because the demand for nude weddings has become so great on the cruises, Nancy Tiemann, president and co-founder of Bare Necessities, became a minister so she could preside over the ceremonies herself.

The growth of nude weddings is part of a larger trend in nude recreation, which is fast reaching record numbers. "Nude recreation is entering the mainstream," said Carolyn Hawkins, Public Relations Coordinator at AANR. According to AANR, nude recreation grew 75 percent during the 1990s. Today, AANR estimates that the industry has grown to $440 million, up from $120 million in 1992.

In fact, nude recreation is becoming so popular that nudists now have their own resorts, cruise lines and most recently in January, a flight chartered specifically for a nudist day trip. Throughout the country, a growing number of nudist resorts offer everything from naked volleyball to naked karaoke.

For couples like Pamela and Lee, who lead a nudist life, having a nude wedding is a way to focus on each other rather than the extravagance of a traditional wedding. Their outdoor ceremony, which they estimated cost between $2,000 and $3,000, was an added bonus against the backdrop of a booming wedding industry whose prices continue to soar.

According to a study conducted in 2005 by the Fairchild Bridal Group, the average wedding in the United States costs over $26,000. By contrast, most nude weddings take place outdoors, and the best part of all -- no wedding dress to think of.

"Couples who get married in the nude are closer to God, the universe, divine energy," said Rev. Jo Ann Pessagno, a minister who has presided over 80 nude weddings, including Pamela and Lee's. "Their emphasis is on the ceremony and the words as opposed to the flowers, the place cards, what kind of wine they're serving, what kind entrees, desserts."

When Bob and Judy Callene had a nude wedding aboard a Bare Necessities cruise on Valentine's Day 2002, many of the ship's 2,000 passengers showed up to support the couple. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed wedding cake, Champagne and dancing in the ship's restaurant. "My husband said it was the best $40 ever spent," said Judy, still marveling at the low cost of their special day.

Mark and Cindy, who had a nude wedding in San Antonio in November 2001, put their wedding together in just six weeks and sent out e-mails rather than formal wedding invitations. Though Mark, 36, regrets that their families did not attend because they felt uncomfortable, having a wedding that reflected their nudist lifestyle was more important.

"My mom is just too old fashioned to understand," he said.

Nude weddings also remind couples that their lifestyle is about love and acceptance above all else. For Lee, "nudism is a great equalizer. You are the same as everyone. You're not wearing anything that would separate you from anyone else."

Nudists around the country balk at the mistaken belief that nudist communities are all about sex. To them, nudists are very accepting and close. "It's not a sexual thing, it's a spiritual thing," said Rev. Shirley Morgan, a minister in Manchester, Michigan who has officiated at nearly 40 nude weddings.

For each couple, the decision to have a nude wedding came naturally. "We got married this way because of our belief in having a healthy, honest, transparent lifestyle," said Pamela.

According to Lee, their wedding was exactly the way it should be. "God keeps sending us naked people, but we keep sending him people that are all dressed," he lamented. "One of these days we'll get it."

By the way, NM ignored all the news about a German airline with naked flights because (1) it's been done before and (2) it's just plain (plane?) stupid.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Be It Every So Naked...

Nudity in the home

Nothing so divides families as the issue of nakedness, says Marianne Kavanagh

The Telegraph (U.K.)

February 9, 2008

Outside the home, families tend to behave with a certain conformity. But behind closed doors, there is no such thing as standard behaviour. Some families keep guinea pigs. Others eat Marmite. Some watch The Vicar of Dibley. But no habit splits the nation so dramatically as nudity.

Some of us wander quite happily about in nothing but our birthday suits. Others view nakedness as a brief but necessary state between, say, a bath and pyjamas. But all of us have quite distinct opinions about whether or not we are comfortable stripping off in front of our children.

"I see it as my duty," says a friend, "to remind my teenage sons that this is what women really look like. It's no good them growing up thinking we all look like those airbrushed pictures in magazines." Others wouldn't dream of being seen in the buff, grabbing towels and dressing-gowns to cover the relevant dangly bits.

"It's purely practical," says one father. "Spend any time naked in our house and you'd freeze to death." Some change their habits as the children grow older. You share a bath with your baby and happily strip off in front of your toddler, but find yourself becoming increasingly modest once your child goes to school.

It's hard to rise above direct comments about a Rubenesque shape. "Mummy," said a friend's five-year-old admiringly as her mother left the bath, "what a big bottom!" "I think I cover up more now that the children are teenagers," says another mum, "but that's more for their sake than mine.

I don't tend to bother about being naked in the bedroom, because that's my domain."

"It's quite useful if I'm upstairs wrapping birthday presents," says Katie. "My 13-year-old hates seeing me naked, so I just shout 'No clothes on!' and I can hear him scuttling back down the stairs." If you're going to let it all hang out, you need a positive body image. Gravity takes its toll, after all, and the more mature human form seems to benefit from a little support. Perhaps this is what was behind the leaked email from Jeremy Paxman, presenter of BBC2's Newsnight, to Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose. Complaining about M&S underwear, Paxman wrote of the "widespread gusset anxiety" among his friends.

"I think nudity depends on whether your house has a lot of mirrors," says Louisa. "I didn't mind drifting about naked in my 20s, but nowadays I come across a full-length mirror and think, 'Bloody hell!'"

It's probably easier for mothers to strip off in front of their daughters, and fathers in front of their sons - it is, after all, a division we're used to from the days we eased our shivering children back into their clothes at the swimming pool. But the solidarity encountered when one sex heavily outnumbers the other can be alarming.

One father, who works away from home during the week, comes back to his wife and four daughters on Friday night and feels hopelessly out of place. "He keeps asking, rather desperately, 'Is that appropriate? ' because we're all wandering about naked," says his wife fondly. "But we don't take any notice of him."

If you find the idea of nudity in the home troubling, it may be because your parents were buttoned, braced and belted. We seem to pass on our ideas about nakedness to the next generation.

"When I was growing up," says a friend whose daughters quite happily sit about without a stitch on, "you couldn't lock yourself away modestly in the bathroom because the rest of the family would hammer on the door, shouting, 'What are you doing in there?'"

You might, on the other hand, decide to turn your back on a naturist upbringing. One friend, who feels in retrospect that her parents were complete exhibitionists, keeps nudity at home to a minimum.

"Be sensitive to your child's feelings," says Suzie Hayman, trustee of the national charity ParentlinePlus. "Young children are very free and easy, but most go through a modest phase after attending nursery school. Teenagers can find it very embarrassing if their parents are prancing about in the nude because of the whole idea of the opposite sex." Be sensitive, but also positive.

As Hayman says: "What's most important is to pass on the idea that 'My body is OK' and 'Whatever I am is fine', because the opposite message is so very harmful." In these days of cosmetic surgery and airbrushed pictures, you can't emphasise too much that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. But don't feel you have to strip off to prove it. After all, as TS Eliot once nearly said, your children might not be able to bear that much reality.

The bare essentials:

Reasons to go nude

• It's natural

• It's the best way to clean the shower

• Fake tan dries more easily

• You don't need to buy dressing-gowns

Reasons to cover up

• It saves on heating bills

• You might embarrass the children

• Clothes express personality

Mobile phones take pictures these days

Source: http://www.telegrap n/main.jhtml? xml=/education/ 2008/02/09/ enakedness109. xml