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#12392
Prof Green
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If WNBR is essentially a protest, it must be intended to cause a reaction. That may be from people saying it’s disgusting (see any discussion about it on Facebook!) or silly boys getting excited about naked breasts. By participating, you’re sort-of donating your nakedness to the cause. People will see you naked, they’ll complain that you’re doing something unacceptable, they’ll hide photos of you in their wardrobe for future – um – enjoyment, but you’re giving up some of your body-privacy in the name of safer cycling.

If it is essentially a celebration of freedom, a bit like Pride perhaps, you’re still using your body to make a point about your freedom to do what you like with your body. That point only gets made if people react to it, so maybe it’s still essentially a protest.

If it’s just an excuse to do some sunbathing (or rain or snow or hail-bathing) then does that make it a more private experience? If I want to spend time naked, I can make better use of the time if I spend it with friends or strangers in a big group. I’m then not trying to prove anything or protest about anything. I’m not looking for publicity. I don’t particularly want to be photographed, certainly not close-up. That’s not why I’m there.

If (here comes a huge over-stretch of reality) I was an 18-year-old female participating in WNBR, what happens when I want to become a primary school teacher or a vicar, or eventually a newsreader, MP or magistrate? Yes, I got naked as a protest. Yes I got naked as a celebration. Yes I got naked for fun when I was bored. Is there a scale of acceptability? I’ve never been any of those things, but I imagine protest is a good thing for a teacher or vicar but no-excuse in-yer-face exhibitionism is a bad thing for several careers.

I think I’d be happy photographing a group but not recognisable individuals, and the same if I was being photographed. I’d be happy photographing someone who clearly wanted to be photographed, and I’d have to assume they were happy with the (extremely unlikely) consequences if they ever fancied a career change.

I once came across a mixed group of topless friends on the beach at Bournemouth. They were enjoying their freedom to play some sort of football game whilst showing each other their bodies as part of their enjoyment. I was sad I didn’t have my camera with me – I saw someone else take a photo and they essentially posed for it, but I sometimes wonder how they felt the next day when they were back at work thinking of each other’s bodies and everyone who had seen them and kept photos.

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