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Feeling stressed? Try nude therapy
By Prithpal Singh (todayonline.com)
Updated: 2004-08-20 10:26

The conventional wisdom is that nudism and Asians don't mix. That's what people tell me anyway.

A woman flushes upon reading a notice that says: "Naked Swimming Allowed (for males)" at a scenic spot in Lin'an city, East China's Zhejiang Province, Wednesday. The administration of the scenic-spot pioneers -- the first nude swimming area for men and women respectively in China -- will formally open to the public August 12, 2004. The idea took shape after eight local female college students were found skinny dipping in the area. [newsphoto]
So, it was not surprising a recent plan to set up China's first nudist colony near Hangzhou was put on hold after it sparked a furore among offended locals.

However, it seems it's a temporary setback. A local female official said: "We do still want to do it, once related regulations are sorted out. I would say there are as many people who support the scheme as there are opposed to it," she said.

Closer to home in Thailand, a Thai politician plans to build a nudist colony on an island leased from the Myanmar military government which frowns upon short skirts.

Senator Vikrom Isiri's resort on Saint Luke's Island will be near the tip of Myanmar's southern panhandle.

Yet it seems bizarre that many in Asia? where the Kama Sutra was born, where the phallic symbol is the object of religious worship and where nude communal bathing is not unknown? should greet the idea of a nudist colony with so much protest and moral outrage.

Quite coincidentally, I recently received a travel e-newsletter which dealt at length on the 73rd American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) Convention in Corona, California.

Nude recreation is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry in the US today and before anyone gets the wrong idea, consider the following credentials: The AANR has a membership of 45,000.

It's an award-winning member of the American Society of Association Executives and has received many awards from the Hospitality Marketing and Sales Association International (HMSAI).

It belongs to a number of other prestigious international tourism associations including a county Chamber of Commerce, and the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Nudist colonies, it would appear, have arrived. If China and Thailand will have nudist colonies soon and if nudism is such a well established and accepted recreation form in the US, is there room for something like this in Singapore?

Quite possibly, and for more than one reason. While a part of me laughs at the mere idea that something like this would fly in Singapore, I also have wondered at the common bathing facilities of our army camps and health club locker rooms, where I have never seen people of all ages so completely comfortable with nudity.

With a civilisation spanning 5,000 years, should nudity than be so strange and repulsive to us Asians and still associated only with with sleaze and notoriety?

First, we must overcome our prejudices. We should accept that nudity has a nicer flip side and can be regarded as any other recreation, as a business and as a tourist attraction. The resulting benefits to Singapore as a tourist destination, particularly in showcasing our diversity and open mindedness, could be immeasurable.

No need for multi-million dollar campaigns. Just an island, open spaces and an open mind.

In one stroke, we will banish away once and for all the unflattering staid international image we have today.

Having a nudist colony will position Singapore as the truly new Asian holiday destination coming into its own? confident and not afraid to be different and daring. It might even be enough to entice the AANR to hold its 74th international convention in Singapore!

Second and more vital is the revolutionary therapeutic effect it will have on the psyche of overstressed Singaporeans who are often considered as boring, inhibited, class-conscious and rule-bound.

Such therapeutic benefits are probably best summarised by what the AANR says: "Nude recreation embraces the joy of living and experiencing nature in the most natural way. To relax and to be nude is to let yourself be totally free. Nudists respect each other's individuality.

"Our own self-esteem is enhanced by our ability to accept ourselves as we really are. We find it easy to accept others regardless of physical size, shape or body condition."

Is Singapore in the mood for a change? Seems so. Then let's try out this therapy. It will do good for our inner health and mental sanctity and probably do wonders for our country's international image.

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