Who’d be a naturist PR woman? Well – I’ve worked in PR in the past. My job back then was to represent a controversial organisation, which plenty of people had negative feelings about. I felt it was often misrepresented. Is this starting to sound familiar?
I liked the organisation, so I found the negative people annoying. First, I had to get over that, and understand how they felt. Where did their bad opinions come from? You have to know before you can challenge them. And the challenge should be made without antagonising anyone. Never tell someone straight out that they’re wrong, even if you think they are. Once they’re bristling with anger or feeling insulted, they’ll never listen.
Sometimes it was tricky – but one thing I had was confidence. I believed in the organisation. I also knew plenty about it, not just what it does now, but what it’s done in the past. If anyone took me on, I could come back not just with opinions but also with facts. ‘Well now, I hear your views, but I’d like to point out…’ then I’d give them a different take.
So in the last few weeks, I’ve been helping my naturist club with a re-brand. Facing misunderstanding and wondering how to respond. What’s been missing for me is the confidence part.
I understand very little about naturism. Debates and discussions go on within the community. People hold differing views with passion. All this is great– the engagement shows that the topic’s alive and that everyone cares. But when you don’t know much yourself, it’s often not at all clear to you where you should stand.
To be blunt, I can help the PR team because I just don’t have a clue. It’s never a strong approach to take in job interviews, but here my know-nothing helps. I get how the naturist scene looks to people outside.
I also know why it appealed to me. I think I’m part of a cultural moment: a lot of folk looking at naturism and seeing something they’d like to be part of. But they can’t quite say why: the thing that they want has no name. I’m reaching for terms like ‘identity’, ‘authenticity’, ‘exploration’, to try to capture it.
Look in the media – newspapers, movies, TV – from thirty or forty years back. What you’ll think straight away, with your sleek modern eyes, is that everything looks so much rougher back then. Not every actor or front man or woman you’ll see is a hunk or a big screen beauty. Everyone’s thinner, for sure (that’s due to changes there’s been to our food and to how much it costs) but not every body is gym-ripped and toned. Not everything shines.
Maybe it all just became too shiny. We want to get under the gloss and experience us, as we are, before we were made to perform our own lives and be perfect. We’re sickening from it; it’s just not the way we experience living them. And I honestly think that naturism offers an answer. Or at least, a real and important part of one.
Now – if only we could find a marketing slogan to say so.
Photo by c paras, used under Creative Commons licence.