Too early for Christmas?

Is it too early for Christmas? I know that in real life you can see Christmas trees and decorations two or three days after Hallowe’en, which is far, far too early.

In real life I’d consider today, four weeks away, to be far, far too early for decorating. Two weeks time sounds about right to put the tree up and the lights out.

But this is Second Life, where anything goes, so I teleported over to Eden earlier when I got a call from Howie.

While he gave up publishing SLN earlier this year, and hence the blog’s rebranding as SLN2, he was kind enough to provide Trine, initially, and then myself with access to the home he doesn’t use, but still pays rent for, specifically for the purpose of us having our own blog ‘home’.

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The tree is up, and more than that, he’s affixed a new SLN2 sign to the wall of the building, so that our home is well signposted and if you’re sailing by on the Eden Naturopolis estate, you can drop anchor, step onto dry land and say ‘hi!’ if we’re around. A Christmas present from our continuing benefactor!

I’ve also been given some rights to allow me to re-decorate, so the furniture will go and it will take on more of an office look in the New Year (when the tree comes down).

We decided to celebrate this with a photo…

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If you think I’m not looking quite myself, that might be down to different glasses. I’ve taken possession of a new pair in real life this week, and decided I’d update slightly in SL to reflect this new look. I’m not actually coping very well with them, if truth be told, and have been swapping between old and new for the past 8 days. I think I need to go out and treat myself to a new pair in SL so I feel more comfortable in my avatar.

So yes, it’s too early for Christmas, honestly, but it had to be done. I fully expect much of the grid to follow suit next week when we finally enter December.

Ella

Scuba diving at Naked Dreams

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The photographs above reminded me of something…

…scuba diving at Naked Dreams! It’s a sim I’d not visited for some time, so I rectified that earlier with a re-visiting of Tess’s wonderful sim, majestic from the highest point of the island to the lowest point of the waters surrounding it.

Yes, as well as being an imaginative, beautiful build above water, you can get some scuba gear and search the waters beneath it, and although we’ve blogged this before on the original blogsite, it’s certainly worth blogging again.

Ella and fellow visitor Lee take in the sights of Naked Dreams

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One thing I’m noticing is becoming much more prevalent at naturist sims is the number of avatars who imagine that signs such as this, which outline the sim’s dress code, don’t apply to them. I’ve no idea who the avatar left of picture is, but clearly she can’t read. Here’s an idea, folks. If you aren’t going to go nude at a naturist sim, don’t visit the naturist sim. Go elsewhere!

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Former SLN contributor Abi at Naked Dreams (photo from our archive)

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Avatars take the boat from the main Eden landing point out to Naked Dreams (photo from our archive)

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Abi collects her free scuba gear (photo from our archive)

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Abi amongst the sea life beneath Naked Dreams (photo from our archive)

I’ve never scuba dived. That’s not strictly true, I’ve tried to scuba dive (not naked) but was terrible at getting the breathing right and abandoned the lesson fairly quickly. I just couldn’t get it, and the mouthpiece made me feel like I was going to gag. Lots of people I know just love snorkelling and scuba diving, but I’m afraid  that it’s something I’ll never truly live, so it’s great fun to be able to pop on an oxygen tank and go diving amongst the coral at Naked Dreams.

The scuba gear provided includes a wet suit, if you’re not naturist. However, as you’re on a naturist sim…when in Rome, do as the Romans.

Ella

Royalty, tattoos and nudity.

Second Life isn’t a constant naturist experience. Sometimes I throw some clothes on to go shopping! 😉

It was on one of these irregular trips beyond the naturist zones of SL that I chanced upon avatar Lavinia (or as her full initial SL name styles her, The Honourable Lavinia).

She had to be British, sporting a name like that. So I asked, and yes, she was indeed British, with an honorific name. ‘The Honourable‘ usually references the son or daughter of a Viscount or Baron.

‘I’m not posh’, Lavinia told me, ‘but I liked the idea of fantasising being posh, high-born, so I adopted the name. Then I got my Mum to play SL and she styles herself as a ‘Lady‘, hahah. Then we chanced upon an SL group called ‘Debrett’s Peerage’, which gives you a group title of ‘SL Aristocracy’, so we joined that. SL is all about fulfilling a fantasy, and I quite liked the idea of living an SL at odds to my own rather ordinary, working class life.

‘I did a lot of research on ‘the gentry’ in England, and I’ve run my SL within a certain framework accordingly’.

We repaired to a cafe to talk (I often like to do SL ‘interviews’ in an SL cafe if I can, it provides a relaxed ambience in which to talk to another avatar, plus it’s easy to find an empty cafe where you don’t get disturbed often) because I’d previously looked into the topic of royals being enthusiastic skinny dippers.

While we were talking, I noticed an array of stars across Lavinia’s tummy. Not very royal, I reasoned. ‘You’re wrong, though’, Lavinia told me laughing. ‘There’s a long history of royals being tattooed!’ A little research proved that Lavinia was correct. Royalty does indeed have a bit of a history under the needle.

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‘I’ve got several SL tattoos because, like you, people don’t think that ‘the upper classes’ would do such a thing, but it’s historically correct. There’s a small irony in that I’m not remotely upper class, and don’t have a tattoo, but for the sake of accuracy I maintain several SL tattoos. What I found out during my research was that royalty have also been keen advocates of piercings. Look no further than the Prince Albert penis piercing!’

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Princess Sofia of Sweden has a tattoo

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Princess Stephanie of Monaco has several.

‘The idea’, says Lavinia, ‘is that the tattoos I utilise in SL should be discreet, in the same way that real life royals might have them’.

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Lavinia keeps it discreet with an ankle tattoo

She also offered to strip off for the pages of SLN2. ‘It’s not something I’ve done before, but again there’s a kind of history with royals being comfortable getting naked, so it kind of fits the whole Lavinia back story’.

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Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

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Princess Diana

Princess Stephanie of Monaco

I’ve not posted the photos above to embarrass royals, but rather to show that if monarchy are supposed to be a symbol for their nation, from England to Monaco to Sweden and beyond, then ‘a semi naked royal’ merely reflects, and accurately captures, the mood of their nation. For most young French or English women, going ‘topless’ is pretty much normal behaviour. If we were to see a photo of royalty in Victorian swimwear we would, rightly, sneer at their disconnect with most of their subjects’ reality. And yet we are equally (well, the media are) astounded that (a) their females have breasts and (b) like to sunbathe in a style familiar with most of their subjects.

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We’ve also seen this in recent days with photos of America’s next First Lady, Melania Trump, posing naked in a previous life. So what? I’m quite enamoured with the idea that the First Lady had an earn-a-living, unsanitised life before the White House (the closest America gets to royalty).

Not that that’s unique to the next First Lady…

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Jackie Kennedy (by then Onassis) enjoys some nude sunbathing.

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And so Lavinia poses nude, reflective rather than contemptuous of those who bear titles.

I have to say that the concept of royalty, or those who hold honorific titles, embracing tattoos seemed odd to me. (Semi) nudity less so, as these events have been well documented in the media.

But rather than think of royalty as an elevated set disconnected from the rest of us, perhaps we should reflect that, in many ways, they take their cue from us, the ordinary people, and adopt topless or nude sunbathing, or going under the tattooist’s needle.

Ella

Postscript: Lavinia told me that she’s encouraging her RL mother, and SL aristocratic mother, to go under the tattooist’s needle as well, in a bid for an accurate reflection of real life. Unfortunately, as of now, her mother’s avatar appears to have been abandoned.

The death of David Hamilton

The apparent suicide of photographer David Hamilton, aged 83, was announced this week.

 

Hamilton also made films that he might describe as ‘arty’ but which many of us would regard as little more than soft-porn exploitative, as he favoured working with young teenage girls, sometimes nude, in his work.

I won’t use any of his imagery in this post, bar one, as even dressed his models are sexualised beyond their tender years.

Levels of child pornography were levelled at him over the years, with his approach being his trademark “Hamilton blur”, his photos often bathed in a very distinctive artistic vagueness, as the Guardian has it, a soft focus apparently the patina of ‘decency’ behind which, in my view, he hid.

Recently, one of his former models, Flavie Flament, accused him of raping her when she was thirteen, as told in a book recently published.

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And this is the only Hamilton image I’ll use, on the basis that Ms. Flament used it as the cover for her book in which she makes the accusations.

Hamilton described the accusations as ‘an abominable libel‘. A week later he took his own life.

The photographic history of naturism is littered with examples of exploitative photography of this nature. There are others, still alive, who’ve documented naturism is such a framework, and the whole thing leaves a very unpleasant taste. While ‘in real life’ naturism is certainly a wholesome, family lifestyle, there are those who -ahem- bathe their photographs in a very distinctive artistic vagueness as little more than an excuse for some exceptionally dodgy and unwholesome interest in teenage (and younger) children. Photographs of such an ilk have no place in naturism.

Ella

 

 

 

 

Cameras on naturist beaches

One thing I’ve noticed on naturist beaches in recent years is that cameras are in evidence. When I started out in naturism cameras were a big ‘no-no’, and producing one, or taking photos of others without express permission was liable to see your camera forcibly removed from you and the film (as it probably was back then, digital would have been in its infancy) removed in front of you, or the camera thrown in the sea.

With digital, cameras have got smaller, and would have good picture taking qualities even in miniature pens, glasses and so on, making it hard to detect ‘the voyeur photographer’.

So many ‘voyeur’ style photographs have been taken, and published, in the internet age. I disagree strongly with this, as I’ve stated in a previous post.

However, the irony here is that, with an explosion of naturist photographs, and representation of the ordinary aspect of the lifestyle, there’s been a little bit of a resurgence of interest in naturism in the internet years, possibly fuelled by a ready source of naturist imagery (I believe almost everyone has some underlying interest in the concept, as any bucket lists I’ve ever seen published almost invariably include ‘skinny dipping’ on it).

As a result of regular exposure to images, and in a society (certainly a European society) wherein nudity is ‘normalised’ people appear to be more relaxed about being photographed naked, either in private, or on their naturist holiday.

Yes, we take photos on our naturist holidays, of course we do. And when we’re on the beach we’d be aware that we could be photographed on the beach. I’m sort of OK with this, with caveats.

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Here’s a photo of my RL/SL husband, Jim. He’s the subject of the photo but I’ve inadvertently managed to capture another naked avatar in the background.

If I were minded to publish it on the internet, as a RL photo, there are those who might wish to crop Jim out and focus on the lady (let’s be honest, most nude photography on the internet is of women, for men), it’s going to be difficult for the voyeur/pervert wishing to focus on her.

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Because even in the digital age ‘blowing up’ the photo leads to a surfeit of detail. I apply these rules in RL. If someone is obviously taking a photo of their partner, and I happened to be somewhere in the background, I’m OK with it. I’m unlikely to be identified even if that photo makes its way to the internet.

However…there’s also a high chance that, on holiday, I’m involved in some activity with some of my children.

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Imagine a Mum playing in the background with a child. Well, I’d sort of expect the photographer to delete out of courtesy to the unintended subjects if he/she realises it at the time, delete when reviewing the photo, or crop out the unintended subjects and delete the original.

The absolute minimum would be that the photographer pixellates the child, and the mother too.

Cameras on naturist beaches are OK, up to a point, as far as I’m concerned, but not for everyone, so when photographing it’s vital to be vigilant not only about your own subject, but the background too. I’ve had some strange looks when turning up with a camera, and my rules are to point it at the ground when not in use, and to make it clear you’re photographing. At the time I was trying to point the camera out to sea, to take a photograph of an impressive yacht, and there was no one swimming between myself and the yacht. Even so, some sunbathers did keep a watchful eye on me in case I tried to photograph them. Which is entirely understandable.

If someone makes it obvious that I’m the subject of their voyeur photography I would, of course, be challenging them immediately. We can be more relaxed about cameras, within limits.

Note: The female in the photograph is one of my SL friends who posed accordingly for the purposes of this post. The ‘child’ in the photo is actually an adult avatar who adjusted their hover height to sink into the sand and appear smaller), and is another SL friend. We didn’t consciously try to set up these photos to illustrate the post. All participants were aware of the shots I was trying to set up. We would not encourage age-play, child-avis or role-play of a similar type in SL. Indeed, I’m uncomfortable being around child avi’s in SL, or petites, as I find myself questioning the motivation of those who feel they must adopt a child or petite avatar.

Ella

 

Photos : a policy guide

When I’m inworld and get talking to people, the topic of the blog often comes up. Some people have been avid readers for years (SLN would be relatively well known amongst some of SL’s naturist community) while others have never heard of it.

Promoting it has always been hard, as syndicating its presence amongst a wider SL community has always been hard. Blog aggregators tend to shy away from anything they consider to be NSFW.

These are the same aggregators who will constantly link to SL bloggers who will pose their models in a new outfit that leaves little or nothing to the imagination. Clearly the difference between being safe for work and NSFW is a diaphanous, see-through body stocking, on the basis that it has a price tag.

Worse, the model may be sporting a new weapon while posing, or have her legs wrapped around a male model in a provocative fashion. But that’s OK. The weapon and the provocative pose also have price tags.

Besides, why are you looking at SL blogs at work anyway? Aren’t you meant to be working? Little wonder I can never contact any arm of government when I need them (but can hum along to Mozart’s 41st Symphony).

It’s often conversations I have with other avatars that steer the blog, and this blog entry is no exception. The avatar I was speaking to mention the issue of photos, and that there was a specific tumblr site he visited which he said featured genuine naturists. I checked it out and I agree, it does contain some excellent genuine naturist photography. The problem I have with it is that most are voyeur photos, pictures taken of subjects without their knowledge or consent.

I’m uncomfortable with this. While, on one hand, these sort of photographs probably best represent naturism as it is, ordinary people doing ordinary things without make-up, a hair stylist or ‘a beach-ready body’ (all bodies are beach-ready…the entire concept of being a specific size or shape for it is silly and offensive).

I love to see these type of photographs. They’re the best representation of naturism. But they remain voyeur photos, so I try not to utilise these on the blog, much as I’d like to, if only to present some naturist facts, these being (a) not all naturists confirm to a specific type of age and body (b) it’s not some group orgy, it’s ordinary people doing ordinary beach holiday things like swimming, sunbathing and kicking a ball around (and c) some of these people have children and naturism is very much family-orientated (watch out for a subsequent blog entry on the manner in which some sick people have helped to further skew the idea of naturism by their fascination for child photography, something that means all of us have to tread carefully about how we present naturism. sometimes it seems there’s never been a naked family on holiday, ever.

Watch out for another subsequent blog entry about cameras on beaches, incidentally, something that has grown more acceptable in naturism in recent years. (Fallow season for naturist related posts? Don’t you believe it).

We will continue to persist with a policy whereby, to the best of our ability, we will studiously avoid utilising ‘voyeur’ type photos, even though they may well be the most accurate pictorial description of naturism.

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Probably genuine naturists, and I’m guessing this is France.

Photos of this type are OK as far as SLN2 is concerned.

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Probably a voyeur type shot, but as the subject’s identity is not

compromised I would still consider this to be OK for SLN2

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Definitely a voyeur shot, but the difficulty is rejecting such a normal, ordinary beach shot when the subject’s face is largely hidden from the camera’s eye. Hidden in that, apart to the subject herself, few of her friends might even recognise her. As a result, I’d probably use such a photo on SLN2.

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Definitely a voyeur shot, apparently taken from the other side of a river/lake without the subjects’ knowledge or permission. I would not use this on SLN2, hence the pixellation used on the photo, which did nothing to try to preserve the anonymity of the subjects. This type of photograph (without pixellation) is, for me, is strictly off-limits

There will be other photographs claiming to be ‘naturist’ but which we know, almost certainly, utilise models posing as naturists. I would be relaxed about the models being viewed face-on. However, as the models will almost invariably be specimens of ‘the body beautiful’ they do offer a skewed impression of how you must look on a naturist beach.

Ella

Dressed like what?

This isn’t strictly a naturist blog entry, but does have some relevance to ‘body confidence’, even within SL. And probably quite a bit to do with morality and behaviour.

I often meet people in real life who claim ‘oh, I could never do naturism’, with a variety of excuses offered as to why not.

I’ve got beyond the age now where my peers proceeded to go out dressed for the night with more cleavage on display than not, and nothing but a thong under their micro mini skirt. Sweetie, you’re already 3/4 naked on a cold December night, nipples stood out like coat hooks, and you think I’m the brazen one for being a naturist?

It’s not much different in SL. Avatars claim they’re not brave enough to go bare in a naked sim despite them not being a real thing! And then dress up like the RL friend we all had/have in the paragraph above, go dancing in SL with an evening that ends up with the rather ridiculous ‘oooh, so hawt, bawbee’ pose balls being utilised.

Anecdotally, more than of any real relevance to this post, when I started in SL, eight years ago this week!!!!! I used to go to a naturist sim called Manatee, which was busy, and contained a mixed crowd, some of whom were there for the the genuine side of naturism, and were experienced RL naturists with all manner of advice about RL naturist locations, while others would wander off to a more intimate area for some pixel bumping, or slex as SL sex is sometimes called.

One of the more senior members, senior in that she’d been in SL almost from the beginning, would wander off with yet another conquest, return some time later and shout ‘289!!!!’ or whatever in local chat, so we all could ‘hear’. Yes, that was the number of pixelated sexual experiences she’d had.

Worse, sometimes I’d log in two nights in a row and whatever the number was had leapt by 6 or 7. You either had to admire her stamina, if only to sit there at her keyboard cranking out a procession of SL moans, or dismiss her as the girl the boys all liked until they’d been there, after which they’d dismiss her -even in an SL context- as a slut or a whore.

She was a keen advocate of doing her (predatory) wooing in local chat, just so we all got to hear her ‘chatting up’ another semi-decently presented male avatar.

I’ve no idea if she’s still playing, but at that rate I’d suspect her number of Slexual partners would be approaching, or over, four figures by now.

I once remember speculating that, if someone were to invent an SL sexual disease (think of a cross between ‘Bloodlines‘ and the Mama Allpa hud -with which you can control your SL fertility…sex leading to getting pregnant or not as the case may be) she’d have infected a good percentage of that sim’s visitors.

I’ve kind of got distracted. The point is that in SL our appearance often creates preconceptions in others just as it does in RL. Our half-dressed real life friend, discussed above, is going to be a magnet for the most base of male behaviour. Dressing in a similar manner in SL is, without doubt, going to play on male behaviour, with many male avatars seeing the ‘cheap tart’ as someone who is going to deliver slex without too much hard work.

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Chaste and demure? Or ‘easy’?

Anyway, I came into this post to show the seasonal ‘snowflake back tattoos’ in the photo at the top of the page, from Lushish Katz (L$0 join fee, L$0 for the group gift) which come in white, faded and normal tattoo colours. It’s exactly the sort of gift that will have some avatars who claim ‘I could never go naked, even in SL’ heading for a topless beach, or scrambling through their inventory for their skimpiest bikini top, just to show it off.

Right next door to the Lushish Katz board where those snowflake tattoos are available is an SL&FO group gift (again, L$0 join fee, L$0 for the gift) of leg tattoos, as worn by our rather drunk model (‘Drunk’ AO, from the Marketplace, priced at L$10).

She’s dressed in an outfit from YDEA (again, L$0 join fee, and the outfit is also free…and YDEA have dozens of spectacularly good free outfits).

So, ultimately, this post has been a little bit about shopping for currently available freebies, but leads into how our choices of SL clothes impact on others’ perceptions of us, and how we perhaps have to take some responsibility for our actions ‘dressed like that’ when we’re bombarded with ‘hi, sexy!’ random IMs. I know this isn’t a popular viewpoint within feminism, whose current thinking is that regardless of behaviour, there’s no excuse for rape (which is true). Equally, and I depart from feminist wisdom in this regard, I think young women continue to endanger themselves by getting insensibly drunk, too drunk to consider the consequences. The clothes aren’t the issue, the consumption of alcohol is usually the defining element here.

Male attitudes led to the inception of the Slutwalk, which is a protest that our -womens- mode of dress is not a contributory factor to rapes or assaults. Correct.

Naturism conceivably has a role to play in all of this. Our naked bodies, within naturism, become a matter of fact ‘normality’, with all mystique removed, and for me, it seems that the adolescent male, through naturism, has much of his curiosity answered in grown up understanding what an adult or adolescent female looks like naked. I would argue that this leads to a greater sense of respect for females. People growing up naturist appear to have a much deeper sense of respect for each other than they do growing up textile. In a naturist world, no one is dressed ‘provocatively’ and no one is ‘asking for it’ due to how they’re dressed. Food for thought? It’s something I’ll be picking up on in a post later this week, with my observations of naturist behaviour amongst young people on my naturist holidays.

Ella

 

Baby, it’s cold outside

I’m looking out from my study window this morning at a landscape kissed with an all-encompassing frost. Winter has suddenly arrived.

Usually, winter only really arrives after Christmas, in January and February, and it’s slightly worrying that it’s making an appearance in mid-November. I’m going to predict that there will be days, over the next 2-3 months, where I’m stuck at home, with roads blocked and schools closed. I just have that feeling…

In that case, it will be a case of battening down the hatches, turning the heat on and logging into SL, or checking out the websites of some lovely naturist locations and imagining the sun on my back once more.

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I was up early, and my own back garden had a lovely blue tinge over the frost as night slipped away into dawn.

Nothing quite as splendidly Christmasy as the sim I visited to take some photos, and throw on a lovely warm coat I’ve never worn before, the ‘Vampire Hunter Alison’ coat you’ll find that came as standard in your inventory.

I’m not feeling Christmasy yet -it’s far too early regardless of what the shops say- but I am feeling wintry, and I have to say that it’s a period in the SL which, like autumn, makes for some fantastically atmospheric photographs. It’s also a period when you’ll find me dressed in SL.

Of course, there are some RL & SL naturist possibilities, as we can jet off to some sun-kissed beach in an instant in both spheres, and even at home there are hardy folk who will embrace naked ‘Polar Bare’ swims. Some RL swimming groups near where I live swim (textile) all the year round. Brrrr! Far too cold for me to try out, even in a wetsuit.

Ella