Well, not really. Zakkers has pointed out a TV documentary on Channel 4 which Triple P missed last week. Now Channel 4, which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, was supposed to be a high-brow channel catering to minority interests. Lately, critics have been saying it has fallen a long way from its original, lofty, educational values. The title of last week's documentary, My Daughter the Teenage Nudist, exemplifies this exactly.
Broadly, the programme made the assertion that more teenagers (of both sexes, but concentrating on the female makes a much more appealing title, of course) were espousing going around with no clothes on. Meanwhile, others in the programme were trying to recruit more younger people into the naturist movement (a particularly delicate task, we would think).
Anyway, there were perilously few teenage female nudists in the programme but one rather fetching twenty-five year old, Alex, (pictured above). Triple P, of course, thinks attitudes to nudity are bizarre in many countries but we don't particularly think that the naturist movement helps in delivering a better public attitude to nudity as they exist in a self imposed ghetto which, almost by definition, is keeping bodies hidden; unless you are a member of the club. The real issue for Triple P with naturists is that they do everything without clothes; a wholly fake existence. A properly adjusted society would, of course, expect appropriate clothes for different activities but not have a problem with, for example, nudity at the beach or in saunas (Agent DVD had an interesting experience of the different attitudes of continental women to the latter when working in Switzerland).
Attitudes to public nudity vary from country to country, of course, with Britain being somewhere in the middle. Although there are nudist beaches in the UK they never seem very popular (partly because of our weather) but there is certainly a fair amount of topless female sunbathing in those few sunny days we do get in the summer. But is this a trend that's increasing? British girls are happier to strip off when abroad and this is certainly more likely than thirty years ago, for example. We are not yet, however, relaxed enough about our bodies to not blink at the sort of public nudity (especially male) seen on the beaches of Northern Europe. The key thing here is that naked and dressed people mix freely and are not seperated into ghettos.
In America, things are more restrictive than here. Triple P's German friend B was given a warning by a policeman on Santa Monica beach for being briefly topless whilst she changed into her swimsuit; something that would have not caused any reaction on a Baltic (or even British) beach. In the UK, of course, being naked as a man in public used to be a criminal offence whereas a woman being naked wasn't. The Sexual Offences Act of 2003 now makes it clear that naked swimming or sunbathing is no longer an offence, whichever sex you are. Now it's only a problem if the intent is to shock.
So, it doesn't look like we are going to be inundated with teenage nudists any time soon, despite Channel 4's assertions. Triple P has only two stories about teenage, naked girls.
A few years ago Triple P was down in Chichester Harbour, one hot (we do get them sometimes) summer day, with a large group of friends and relations and we met up with another family and their equally extended group. Anyway there was much swimming off the beach and, afterwards, one young (fifteen we subsequently discovered) lady from the other group engaged us in an interesting (to Triple P, anyway) story about Roman ships' anchors being found off the beach. As she did this she stripped off her one piece swimsuit, towelled herself down and then got dressed. She was naked on the beach for maybe thirty seconds and all the time telling me about this Roman ship landing point. It could have been a sexual tease, of course (she had a fine, mature, body for a late teenager, with those perfect, hemispherical breasts that pre-gravity girls of that age have), and she exuded physical self-confidence. However we don't think so. She was just relaxed about being naked in a context where that would be perfectly natural (changing on the beach).
The reason we think this is because of our other story, which relates to a male friend who came home early from work one day to find his sixteen year old daughter and half a dozen of her friends naked in his kitchen, as they had been skinny dipping in his pool. None of them made any attempt to cover themselves up because, due to the age difference (he was in his mid forties at the time) they didn't regard him as a man, just an old person!
So, as the law here now recognises, the difference between acceptable nudity and unacceptable is the presence of some sort of sexual intent or situation. In films, the British Board of Film Classification is quite happy to let non-sexual nudity appear in a "PG" or even a "U" film which, forty years ago, would have required an "AA" or an "X" certificate. The 1971 film Walkabout contains several full frontal shots of Jenny Agutter and was originally classified as an "AA" (equivalent to "15") but the DVD is now classified as a "12".
In America there are some who seem to equate all nudity with sexuality. This, to most Europeans, is a very bizarre attitude but as long as people have this link in their minds we are not going to be seeing many more naked teenagers on the streets!