There is a bit of a dust up going on about comments about nudists/naturist by Ellen Degneres and Simon Cowell during a recent interview on Degeners talk show. If you have not seen the interview you can view it below.
It is fair to say that reaction from the clothes free community has been mixed. Some say “Hey its no big deal who pays attention to that stuff any way?” Others say “She is a comic she is supposed to makes jokes about stuff like that, she even made jokes about her sexual orientation.” Other have called Ellen a bigot and hypocrite.
I don’t think that these responses capture the real danger in that brief seemingly innocent repartee between the celebrities. My concern and disappointment comes from this. As a person who is a woman and a lesbian, two groups that have been stereotyped in society Ellen should have known better. I am not saying she should have scolded her guest (though I think Cowell could use some scolding), but given who she is I think she should been more sensitive to the way the beach goers were described. It was not to long ago that is was OK to have those kind of jokes about gays and blacks publicly. Now that is unacceptable in public discourse. Ellen should know that those kind of jokes reinforce stereotypes and those stereotypes fuel behavior that discriminate against the stereotyped group.
To the clothes free community I would like to suggest that there are several reasonsin addition to the one stated above, why this situation should concern you. First, one of the values of naturism/nudism is accepting people of all body types and not labeling people according to societal ideals about the body. I think this is one of the best things about naturism and something that can be a real positive in the broader society. What was said about all the nudist being ugly,fat people contradicts that value. Secondly I have had clothes free advocates tell me that the way to gain broader acceptance for the practice is to follow the path that the LGBTQ community took. In a sense to see the LGBTQ community as allies and be more accepting of them in the clothes free community as well. So this is an opportunity to gain an ally by educating Ellen and saying what was said was not appropriate and you should know better. If nothing is said then the opportunity for dialogue and sharing information is lost. Finally its been suggested that Ellen gets a pass because naturism/nudism is a lifestyle being gay is not. For me that doesn’t hold water because the very foundation of the clothes free life is that it is a natural state of being. We are born without clothes. So as natural as it is to be gay because one is born that way it is natural to be clothes free. If Ellen gets a pass because naturism is a lifestyle then the clothes free community might as well chuck the whole idea of broader social acceptance out the door and resign ourselves to the fringes of society. I believe social acceptance will only happen when people begin to see nudists/naturists as ordinary people who prefer to live in a natural clothes free state. To some degree this is what happened in the LGBTQ community people realized that they were not a bunch of weird deviants and perverts but brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.
So I will register my disappointment with Ellen response to Cowell’s comments. She did not have to dive in head first with him. She could have shown restraint and been sensitive to the fact that she was talking about real people who she had images of on a screen behind her. She should have known better.
As for Simon Cowell frankly I don’t expect any different from him. I think he is an over bearing jerk who represents the worst of the male dominant culture we live in. He might do well to remember that he went on the that nude beach and had no right to malign those people who were there enjoying the beach as it was intended to be used.
- Nudism/Naturism: When celebrities and others discriminate (blogs.montrealgazette.com)
- Nudism/Naturism and the Jennifer Aniston story (blogs.montrealgazette.com)
- Naturists – Are We An Acceptable Target (and Should We Be Bothered)? (getnakedgetawesome.wordpress.com)