My name’s Björ C. and I tweet pretty much daily under the pseudonym @IbanSaram. Like most naturist tweeple, my feed is made up of pictures from my own life, pictures and quotes I find on the internet that I think will either be informative or entertaining, and RTs (or retweets) of things the people I follow myself have posted on their feeds. I like to keep things light-hearted, but every once and a while things get a tad more serious.
This past weekend (21 and 22 December 2013) was one such occasion when things got more serious. It all started when I noticed during the previous weeks that some of the people I follow often post pictures of themselves, but they crop the pictures at the shoulders, i.e. the images may include their entire bodies from the toes up, but they end at the bases of their necks. Some of the images are rather good and the captions on some of them are indeed inspiring, but the more of those headless pictures I came across, the more I began to wonder about the message those images were sending to people who were coming across them for the first time and knew little or nothing of the naturist community.
I came to the conclusion, wrong or not, that someone who happened across those pictures would think to themselves: “Nice picture. And the caption says ‘be free and live freely’ or ‘there’s nothing unnatural about naturism’, but the person’s decided that it’s so wholesome and natural that they had to chop their own heads off to avoid recognition.” That’s not a message I wanted to risk sending – I am a naturist and that’s exactly the message I don’t want to convey. I want let people know that naturism IS a natural thing and there’s nothing wrong with it. That being said, on 21 December I made my own personal RTing policy change known by posting the following three tweets on my Twitter feed [edited to be read in one paragraph]:
I know I’m going to get some guff on this tweet, but here goes: I’ve decided for myself as a rule not to RT images in which the heads have been cut off. I feel I’m sending the message #naturism is something you have to be ashamed of when I do RT headless pix. I don’t mind it if people have hands, feet, or books in front of their faces, but headlessness/shame is not a message I want to convey.
A couple people “favourited” and “retweeted” what I’d written during the night; however, I noticed when I got up the next morning that five people had decided to “unfollow” me, which they are well within their rights to do, and I surmised that they had done so because of my “no-headless-RT” comment.
Shortly after that I received a reply in which a naturist friend of mine in the UK wrote, “Oh well and to think they call themselves naturists. If they are that ashamed of being seen naked then they’re not”, to which I replied, “I don’t want to sound too wise here, but they don’t mind being seen nude; they mind being recognised. There is a certain justification for it in countries with repressive, non-secular gov’ts, but elsewhere it’s uncalled for”.
That got the ball rolling in earnest: I was approached in the TN chat room, I received a handful of direct messages, and a few Twitter users answered me openly. All of them seemed concerned that I was either ignoring one of four things: people’s right to privacy, their own personal circumstances in less tolerant social environments than my own, the ongoing problems we as a community have of standing apart from “nudists in name only” [read: porn mongers, swingers and the like] or their family circumstances; furthermore, it was presumed that I was I was turning my back on newer members of the community or deeming the headless models “fake nudists”.
That is NOT my intention at all.
Allow me to reiterate: It’s all about the message. I’m not condemning or passing judgement on anyone. Although there may be a few exceptions to the rule, I simply won’t be RTing images that could convey the message that nudists are people who have to live in a fenced-off subculture or in secret clans gathered behind drawn curtains all the while fearing reprisal from the textiled masses.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here that I have absolutely no problems at all with people who have hands, feet, or what-have-you in front of their faces in their selfies if they feel that that is what has to be done in their own personal circumstances – or merely for the sense of art.
I’m glad my tweets have generated some sort of discussion in the naturist community and I’m looking forward to hearing other people’s opinions on this.