With that in mind, a unique chain of events unfolded a few weeks ago.
- My girlfriend came home in the morning and went to bed (naked).
- Very rarely does it happen that she forgets to lock the door.
- The weather turned bad during the day.
- Carol (not her real name - I'm using standard names again), who is a typical sweet motherly type in her 40's, left work and decided to stay at our place to avoid the slippery drive to her rural home and back the next morning.
- My girlfriend rolls out of bed and visits the restroom.
- Carol does a quick knock at the door and then walks in.
- My girlfriend says "hi honey!" thinking it's me, opens the door to walk out, and gives Carol a full frontal. She then says "oh hi!" and smiles on her way to the bedroom to put some clothes on.
The part that confuses me is that Carol felt really bad for catching my girlfriend in the nude. My girlfriend repeatedly said she didn't care at all about it, and we told Carol that we're naturists anyway so it's no big deal to us.
Carol is completely fine with us being naturists and all, and asked a whole bunch of questions about naturism. We told stories, and she thought it was neat and was happy for us but would never consider it herself. (The usual story...) Despite all this, she still felt extremely bad about catching my girlfriend naked! She kept saying she was sorry about it, even when she left the next morning.
This is how I believe the chain goes, when a textile (Alice) catches another textile (Bob) in the nude:
- Alice sees a naked body, and is a bit surprised but realizes that naked bodies do exist and are generally harmless.
- Bob is completely embarrassed: Body shame, bad luck of being naked at that moment, feeling vulnerable, whatever. Bob's life is changed forever, or so it seems.
- Alice feels guilty for embarrassing Bob, conveys that she's very sorry. Both pretend that it never happened, and both feel bad about it in separate ways.
Naturists have a different attitude in the second step: You've seen me naked? Good! That means I don't have to get dressed next time you come over...if that's OK?
Since the middle step is different, the final step should never happen. Why should Alice feel bad about seeing Bob naked, if Bob didn't care at all about it? Alice is not guilty of embarrassing Bob.
Next time Carol is over (assuming we get bad weather again), I'd like to investigate this further. Why, to this day, does she still feel bad about it? What other forces are at work? Does she feel bad simply because she's supposed to based on other experiences with textiles? I thought I addressed that in our evening of chatting, but apparently not.
A similar thing can be said about meeting a hunter while freehiking, and the GoTopless protest. The hunter avoided looking in our direction and seemed shy, as-if our nudity is some sort of blinding light. Carol did too after the initial sight. A majority of people at Chicago avoided looking at us as well, but we weren't naked and most probably ignore all protest groups. (Others, in all fairness, seemed to think this was the only time in their lives that they would see a breast and cherished it for all it was worth.)
Getting textiles to not feel guilty about seeing nudity would be a good step for general acceptance. If we can better understand the problem, or what leads up to the problem, then we have a better chance of correcting it early.
Maybe we're wrong about how we notify others? The signs at Haulover warn "ATTENTION - BEYOND THIS POINT YOU MAY ENCOUNTER NUDE BATHERS" Perhaps the right approach is something like "There's friendly naked people beyond this sign, and we won't mind if you stop over and chat with us!"