I am asked more than once why I spoil my stories and artwork by putting naked people in them. I can’t help it. I am convinced by my stupid brain that all people are naked under their clothes. That nakedness is a part of the lives of every person born with a body. And if you want to draw on real life as the source of your ideas, nakedness is a real part of that. But only a part.
Still, they always seem to wonder, “How can you make the mistake of portraying naked people? It’s a sin. If God wanted us to be naked, we wouldn’t have been born with a full suit of clothes on… er… right?”
There was a large part of my life where I agreed with that assessment and felt a great deal of shame about my obsession with nakedness. In fact, if you remember that I have repeatedly told you that I was assaulted and sexually traumatized as a boy, you can understand how I might have developed a fear-filled aversion to nakedness.
I spent a good many years sexually repressed, and not willing to even wear short-sleeved shirts.
But one essential truth about human beings is that, whatever it is that you really are not able to have, that is the thing that you want the most.
I really wanted to enjoy the sensuality of being naked outdoors. I had been in Avery’s creek one time skinny-dipping with four of my friends back when I was eight or nine. And that brief bit of social nudism was addictive. I did, however, miss out on about three other opportunities to skinny dip with friends out of fear of being caught by adults without clothes (or by girls, as almost happened at Rusty’s birthday party.) I longed to be naked more, as I was aware that some of my friends had been.
Being comfortably naked is a childhood-sort of thing. And that leads to one of the primary sources of critics’ criticism. Nakedness is a sexual thing… so, depicting naked childhood in prose or in pictures must be a form of child pornography.
I, of course, would prefer to disagree. I am pushing the limits in this post, but the limits are still there.
In my stories and in my illustrations, I am not showing any sort of sex act. I am not showing any sort of arousal, or presenting nude bodies in a way that should cause arousal (in normal people.)
It is also not about genitals. You will notice, I avoid showing private parts most of the time. And when a nude figure is posed in a way where I can’t avoid showing them without making them bowdlerized with fig leaves, I never make that particular detail the focus of the picture. In the picture of dark-haired girl and bicycle boy, according to the rule of thirds, the focus of the picture is a natural choice between the face of the girl, the face of the boy, and the bicycle.
Of course it is much safer to bowdlerize with a bandicoot (sorry, I mean coati mundi, but that doesn’t sound as cool) whenever you know somebody is going to view it and hate it, and probably say so… or even report you to the Texas authorities because they hate anything they can justify hating you for with their WASPish blue noses in the air. I don’t care what critics think. But it does matter what trouble they can make for me.
I’ve gotten some awful reviews on Amazon over writing stories with naked teen girls in them, even though you have to read the work to understand there is nudity in it (a fortunate fact that protects me from illiterate trolls.) But the stories are not about sex and don’t qualify as pornography, so some of that was rejected by the Amazon reviewers of reviews. And some of that wasn’t rejected because even stupid and wrong opinions are protected as free speech… as long as you are not freely attacking someone or their work unfairly.
And now, at the ripe (and possibly fermented) old age of 65, I profess to be a nudist. Don’t worry your little head about that fact, though. I am not a radical sort of nudist. I waited until I was retired from teaching to become a nudist. I don’t post naked pictures of myself showing off my privates (except for one nudist organization website that I no longer pay dues for.) So, you don’t have to worry about seeing any of that here. I am a member of the authors’ group on Twitter who write books “normalizing naturism.” And I have one novel that is set in a residential nudist park, and a few other novels with nudist characters in them. But not all of my stories are like that. Even the ones that are like that have mostly characters who wear clothes most of the time. ;Some who even have to wear clothes in the bathtub.. So, as I continue to be a writer, and be ignored by most of the reading public, (and castigated by some who don’t ignore me,) I will attempt to write on without nudist-writer faux pas and naked indiscretions.