Monday, June 1, 2015

Can You Remember When Skinny Dipping Was Politically Correct?

The month of June has arrived.  That reminds The Bare Platypus that it was not too many decades ago when the covers of many magazines published at this time of year featured some idyllic skinny dipping scene set in a pond, stream, or other swimming hole.

June and July meant and end of the school year.  It meant fishing with a cane pole.  And it meant going for a swim with friends in your birthday suit.  Norman Rockwell celebrated this almost annually as an illustrator of the Saturday Evening Post. But it didn't stop there.  Calendars for feed---and seed---companies were affixed to the walls of the general store depicting this rite of summer.  Advertisements in newspapers too.

Nobody seemed to mind a cartoon or illustration of some bare butts.  Sometimes the drawings included a mischievous dog stealing the trousers of unsuspecting skinny dippers to run off with them, or a plot by the gals to make off with the clothes of the lads. All in good fun.  All of it deemed "politically correct."

A lot has changed since then. No doubt that there are more nudist clubs and official nude beaches than there once were.  Plenty of websites and blogs to celebrate skinny-dipping now, along with media stories.  There are also reality shows like Dating Naked and Naked and Afraid.  Perhaps more importantly, most of the afore-mentioned shows and articles present mixed genders in the nude. That's all progress.

But please excuse the Platypus for letting a sigh escape while lamenting that the forums and venues for celebrating the skinny dip have moved from your parents' coffee table and the magazine rack and wall of the corner barber shop.  You know: places where anyone getting a haircut would see them in a sort of "confirmation check" that the country thought this bit of summertime nakedness was normal, albeit among peers of the same gender.

Come to think of it, there are probably not all that many places that people even swim these days that are not either a public beach or pool visible to others, and that may have as much to do with what gets celebrated and enjoyed.  It no longer seems as easy to put swimming bare in the category of something every one (at least every boy) is gonna do once the school house closes and the weather turns hot.

For some readers of this blog, they may not ever remember a time when swimming naked was politically correct, and without overtones.  Over the years, suburban living, less secluded swimming spots, and even greater concerns about drowning and water safety have people swimming where people can see them --- attired in swimwear of course.

As Dickens wrote, "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times."