I thought I would jot some thoughts on how our recent brush with fame in “My Daughter, the Teenage Nudist” went whilst it is still fresh in my mind! First of all, I’m really glad about our portrayal in the documentary, and I think we came across pretty well. We were filming with the documentary crew for a long time and talked a lot about the politics of feminism and body image, and I’m glad that at least some of that comes across. The production company were pretty cool throughout, considering they could have properly screwed us over if they had wanted to! For those of you who have seen it, you can catch it on 4OD if your in the UK and here if your are from overseas.
I feel to a certain extent that the some parts of the documentary seemed a little de-contextualised, and it’s a shame that overall the result made the documentary less political than it could have been. The production company must have a lot of footage of me, Luke and Alex ranting about feminism, capitalism and body image on their cutting room floor! Although I think we always knew that going on a mainstream telly was always going to involve a bit of a compromise on politics, so overall I think we’re pretty chuffed with how it’s gone.
My biggest bugbear is probably the title – “My Daughter, the Teenage Nudist” along with being largely misleading (at least half of us were male and over 20), it seemed to promise furtive glimpses of underage feminine sexuality which ran contrary to what the documentary was about – being comfortable in your own skin. I guess that was Channel 4’s way of hooking in the punters.
Reading through some of the reviews in the papers, almost every one picked up on a conversation between Luke and two girls whilst flyering in Manchester, about how Darryl and Alex were pretty attractive, and whether or not this made them good adverts for body-positivism. I don’t want to speak for Alex or Darryl, but I’d wager that every person, no matter how conventionally attractive, has had doubts about their body image and self esteem at some point. This is pretty much the basis of the beauty industry – fostering hang-ups in order to profit from cosmetics, creams, and cover-ups. As such, going publicly naked represents a big step for anyone, regardless of how pretty other people think they are. And frankly, as astute as those girls statements were, I imagine the media’s reaction would be much more scathing if this was a documentary about older and well-weathered nudists, sadly. It’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Another thing I’m surprised hasn’t been raised much in criticism of the documentary is about how white we all are. There is a serious lack of diversity in the show, and the naturist movement/community as a whole. We talked about it a fair bit with the production crew (which didn’t make the cut), and have jotted down a few of our own thoughts on the subject, but would love to hear your thoughts on how this situation can improve – get in touch if you want to contribute articles to the blog, or have any good resources to share.
I hope I can speak for all of us when I say that we have been really overwhelmed with the positive comments, tweets and emails that have flooded in. Some comments have been amusing, others filled with anger (of the good sort), and more so have been incredibly touching. I’m sorry that we won’t get chance to respond to them all, but thank-you for them all the same.
Whilst I’m on the subject of thanking people, I’d like to give a shout out to my best friends and naked vegan comrades, Luke and Greta. You’ll probably recognise Luke from the documentary, and heard how his body-positive attitude has helped me come to terms with some of my own body issues. Greta wasn’t in the documentary as her family was worried about the potential of it being sensationalised and sexualised in the media (which in hindsight was well founded) but has really been a powerhouse behind making this project work, as well as doing some really fantastic campaigning around the media and ad industries perception of women and bodies.
We’ve met some good people through doing this documentary, and have come a long way since the documentary was filmed. Naked Vegan Cooking also has some exciting projects coming up, including naked clubbing and a pop-up restaurant which you can hear about if you subscribe to get email updates or to our events mailing list. Other ways of keeping in touch with us include facebook and twitter. And don’t forget if you fancy giving naked vegan cooking a try in your own kitchens you can submit your own recipes to go on the blog here.
With love, Jess
P.S. You might want to check out our housing co-op project : )