Why We Have Membership Restrictions

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We get a lot of questions along the lines of

hi im 52 m like getting naked want to meet like-minded people can i join ur group

No, unfortunately, you can’t. Our decision to limit who can join the group was not an easy one, and we feel we owe you an explanation of why.

There are already a lot of options around here for older folks to enjoy the clothing-free life. We have at least four naturist parks (FFNR, Lakesun, The Grand Barn and Sunward) within a short drive of Kingston, and there are several active non-landed groups in the nearby Ottawa area, all of which attract a middle-aged demographic. There are also several clubs in Toronto for single men. Of the naturist sites around here, FFNR in particular is a great place that is quite welcoming to everybody, and we do a few trips up there each summer.

But, except for us, there’s nothing specifically for the younger generation.

The reason the Free Body Society exists is because Kingston needs a safe, fun and comfortable clothing-optional space for our large student and young professional population, and in particular, the female & trans* members of that population. 25% to 50% of these folks are open to some form of body-positivity; less than 0.5% are comfortable going to existing naturist parks. We want to bridge that gap.

Our priority, in determining who we welcome into the group, is to keep the kind of culture that will be supportive and welcoming to this demographic. (We are, proudly, a no-creeps zone!). Yes, we often go to parks and events that appeal to a broader age group, but our core focus is on the student and young professional crowd.

Remember, also, that we try to provide a forum for intelligent and open discussion of the complex social and cultural issues facing the GenY / Millennial generation. If your only reason for wanting to join us is “because naked”, well, that’s simply not enough to go on.

And so we vet our membership rather carefully.

To actually find us in the real world, you have to read our Join Us page, then email us. You have to tell us a bit about yourself and why the group appeals to you.

Your introduction has to be honest. If your profile is that of a 25-year-old woman but you show up as a 50-year-old man, you’ll be sent home, blocked and reported. Similarly, if you claim to be a couple but only the man shows up, you won’t be staying – or coming back. We don’t require personal details or full names, but please provide enough of a profile for us to see that you are:

  1. A real live individual human (not a spambot or someone who writes like one).
  2. Genuinely interested in what we’re trying to create.
  3. Part of the demographic we focus on:
    • Women are always welcome (and if you’re worried about being too old, don’t worry, you aren’t!)
    • Couples and families are welcome.
    • Those who identify with a non-traditional gender identity are welcome.
    • Single men are welcome if you are in our age range, and if you convince us you’re the kind of person who would be a net positive to the group. (This isn’t that difficult – just write us a nice, well-thought-out email introducing yourself.) We generally do not accept single men past late-30s unless an existing member personally asks you to join.

Some of you are about to comment that these rules are “draconian” or “against the inclusive spirit of naturism”. Believe us, it wasn’t an easy decision. But we’ve seen what happens without these rules, and they must be like this if we’re to create a welcoming, fun and comfortable space for our own demographic. We would rather the group be something that grows slowly and incrementally into exactly what we need, rather than quickly taking off but losing its purpose along the way.

Boats good, swimsuits bad

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Okay, so even if the weather permits it, we can’t be nude all the time.

Out at the boat ramp, for example, it is customary to wear swimsuits and/or T-shirts. There’s no practical reason to do so, it’s just what everyone expects, so we play along.

Once clear of the launch ramp, though, it’s perfectly OK to do the logical thing and just get rid of the swimwear. The Kingston area has many, many spots where you can drop anchor, strip off, and alternate between baking in the sun and cooling off in the lake for the better part of an afternoon.
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The debate over whether or not PFDs count as clothing is ongoing. They are, of course, required on this particular powerboat while we’re underway. Safety first!

Very few of the anchorages around here are busy enough for anyone to see whether you’re dressed or nude. In any case, our experience suggests that it’s highly unlikely that anyone will care. This is Canada, after all. We’re pretty easy-going.

Boating is perhaps one of the best ways to experience naturism. There’s virtually complete privacy out on the water, despite being completely out in the open. You have the sun, the breeze, the wonderful sounds of the water and the gentle rolling motion of the boat at anchor. Sail or power, it’s your choice – we’re into both, depending on wind, weather and which boats are available.

An awful lot of people have told me, over the years, that they like the idea of learning how to run a boat, of getting out there on the water, but they feel it’s just too expensive – fuel, repairs, insurance, marina fees, plus the boat itself. This need not be the case!

$1000 will get you a decent, used two- or three-person 14-foot sailboat. $2500 to $4000 scores you a perfectly serviceable 14-foot aluminum powerboat with a trailer and 10 to 20 hp engine, just the ticket for a small family or two couples to get to the best skinny-dipping spots. You won’t be taking it across Lake Ontario, but hundreds of inland lakes are now within your reach. The cost of ownership of such a boat? Less than $500 a year, if you learn how to do basic maintenance yourself. Share the boat among a few friends and it could very well amount to little more than pocket change.

If that’s still too steep, just pop over to Kingston’s Ahoy Rentals (or your local equivalent) and take your choice of canoes, kayaks or small sailboats out for a while, complete with a friendly instructor if you want one for your first trip. The Power & Sail Squadron will be happy to teach you the necessary safety and navigation knowledge over the winter.

Canadians are winterizing our small-craft fleets now, so there are some serious bargains to be had at the moment if you want to get out on the water next summer and can spare a bit of garage space in the meantime.

We’ll see you on the lakes just as soon as everything thaws out. And don’t forget to skip those swimsuits!

Posted by Matt of KFFBS

Favourite Nude Places: Patricia Beach, Manitoba

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Canada has 9.98 million square kilometres of land and only 35 million people. There are bound to be a lot of nice, remote, natural places where nude is just the best way to be.

Panorama of the view north across Lake Winnipeg from Patricia Beach

Patricia Beach, Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. One of our favourite places to hang out – too bad it’s 2300 km away!

One we discovered a few years ago is Patricia Beach on the south shore of Lake Winnipeg. It’s not a formal government-sanctioned nude beach (there are only two of those in the country) but, by long-standing tradition and the tacit approval of the local authorities, proper beach attire (i.e. nudity) is very much OK here.

Patricia Beach attracts a mixed-gender, mixed-age crowd, although (like most naturist sites) it was, at the time of our visit, predominantly a middle-aged demographic. It seems to be a fairly quiet, relaxed place with no stereos, no vendors, and no crowds. If you’ve never tried a nude beach before, and are perhaps struggling with hang-ups or worries about it, this is the perfect place to wash all those worries away. Manitobans are, almost without fail, a universally pleasant culture – even more so when nude. We felt right at home here within minutes, and had a very hard time bringing ourselves to get dressed and leave when dinnertime rolled around.

The place was teeming with wildlife. Frogs, tadpoles, fish, minnows – this waterfront is ALIVE, and vibrantly so. Call it a “naturist naturalist’s dream” and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

Canada could do a lot worse than to treat Patricia Beach as the model for how a public beach should be run.

We’d be very curious to hear from folks who have been there more recently. It’s been three years since our last visit; the 2300 km drive from Kingston is a wee bit too long for a weekend jaunt.

Directions

Point your map at Patricia Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba. Prov. Rd. 319 (a gravel road off MB-59, just south of Stead Rd) ends at a parking lot in the provincial park. The beaches near the lot are textile and crowded. You want to head east (right) along either the service lane or the beach. At the end of the service lane, or after the driftwood piles, stuff your clothes in your bag and keep on going. East of here – including the beach, the channel, and Beaconia on the other side – nudity is the norm.

Do topless and nude protests work?

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With nude and/or topless protests apparently all the rage these days, we should answer a few questions about how the Kingson-Frontenac Free Body Society fits in to that scene.

(Short version: We’re not a protest group. We welcome people who do support or enjoy such things, but our events are private, relaxed and much more laid-back.)

When you want to make a media splash, a topless or nude protest is a pretty reliable way to get attention. It is, however, not a very effective kind of attention, for two reasons:

Nude/topless protests are polarizing. They can help to rally supporters around a cause, but they are also virtually guaranteed to galvanize opposition. FEMEN is an extreme example of this; many more people know them as “those angry topless women who keep getting arrested” than by any of their viewpoints. Even more moderate protest movements, though, tend to alienate the very people they are intended to influence – particularly when those who can actually effect change are powerful, well-established, and prone to becoming defensive when questioned.

Protests suggest their cause is a fringe viewpoint, unless the protesters are so numerous as to form a significant fraction of the population. It is fairly easy for entrenched interests to portray themselves as the moderate, rational voice and the protesters as just a small band of radical malcontents.

This is not to say that organized protests are a bad thing, or unnecessary – indeed, there are many key elements of modern society that owe their origins to public protest movements.

We should not naively assume, though, that protesting is the answer to every societal ill. This is particularly true of body freedom and women’s equality, concepts that are simply too advanced for some segments of society to accept if it’s suddenly forced upon them. Where the protesters are few in number and relatively radical in viewpoint – GoTopless marches being a good example – you tend to get a short-lived spectacle surrounded by a lot of camera phones, followed by business as usual with no lasting positive effect.

A better way, in my experience, is that of Mahatma Gandhi – “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

Topfreedom, for example, isn’t going to become the norm through protesting – it’ll become the norm when people just do it, without fuss or hyperbole. “Rape culture” isn’t going to be driven out by marches and slogans, as useful as those tools may be for making people aware of the problem; it’ll be eradicated by a generation of young men who internalize the belief that women are their equals and are worthy of the utmost respect.

We provide a space where people can try being topfree (or nude) without judgment or fear, and where we can talk openly about such things with friends.

The Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society is not a protest group. If you’re interested in GoTopless, the World Naked Bike Ride and other stuff like that, great! You’re very welcome to join us, and you’ll be accepted as friends. Just don’t expect our meetups to be anything like theirs.

Further reading on this and related topics:

The Naked Writer on “Making a Topless Statement”

Free The Nipple

OCTPFAS on why it’s better to keep things quiet

By Matt of KFFBS

Nudity, sexuality or both?

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There are many popular misconceptions about nudity and sexuality, and these misconceptions often scare people away from activities and places they’d actually enjoy. Perhaps it’s time to outline where our group fits into this complex spectrum.

Sexy, Naked or Both?

If you’re new to this, the first key point to understand is that nudity and sexuality are not the same thing. They’re not completely unrelated concepts, but one does not necessarily imply the other.

If you doubt this, you can find proof by visiting any traditional naturist park. Nobody’s wearing anything, and there’s no more sexuality on display than at a church picnic. Indeed, you’re far more likely to encounter sexual behaviour at a classy restaurant or at your office Christmas party than at a traditional family-friendly nude venue like Sunward or Bare Oaks.

Fears of being hit on, of becoming aroused (and therefore embarrassed), and of being cornered in sexual situations are, in the naturist world, largely unfounded. Everyone worries about it until they work up the nerve to actually try stripping off, at which point they invariably discover that it’s not actually a problem.

Still, there’s an often-repeated claim that social nudity is completely non-sexual, and this isn’t exactly true either. Sexuality is an important part of the human condition; to deny its existence is unnatural. It’s part of our biological hard-wiring, and we should be honest about accepting that fact. After hanging out for a few minutes in clothing-optional circles, most people seem to realize that appreciating sexuality and acting on it are two different things, and that it’s really quite easy to maintain a respectful distinction between them. It’s a marked difference from the rather less civilized, less sophisticated attitudes that are commonly on display at bars and nightclubs in our area.

Sexuality, like most aspects of human life, does not lend itself to clearly defined categories. It covers a broad, multi-dimensional spectrum of activities, beliefs and ideas. No two people can even agree on an exact line delineating what is or is not sexual.

You can be sexy without being naked; you can be naked without being sexy; you can be both or, at times, neither. All without changing who or what you are. It’s your attitude and your actions, not your attire, that set the tone.

At KFFBS events

Where, then, does the Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society fit in?

We’re not about sex, hookups or the “swinger” scene. Are you interested in that sort of thing? As long as your own beliefs work for you, great! You’re quite welcome to join us. Just don’t expect to find that degree of sexuality on display at our events.

Some of the issues we touch on – gender equality, the elimination of “rape culture”, body positivity – overlap with what sex-positivity groups work on, and we’re friends with the leaders of many such groups. And some of our membership will inevitably overlap with groups that have a more sexual focus. This doesn’t mean that we’re promoting sex, only that we’re accepting of people who have different opinions and beliefs about sex. We don’t really care whether you’re a nun or a porn star – if you genuinely appreciate the values on which the group is based, you’ll find that you are among friends here.

We accept sexuality, without dwelling on it. We appreciate it, but we also know to regulate and control our impulses as appropriate. And, as it turns out, this is surprisingly easy to do. Just try to be respectful and mindful of what others are thinking and feeling, and the rest follows naturally.

So, despite what you might fear at first, sexuality simply doesn’t cause any problems here. It’s just one component of the great beautiful tapestry of human life.

By Matt of KFFBS

Victim-blaming & the need to create positive space

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It’s time to kill the absurd idea that a woman is to blame for being sexually assaulted because she was “inviting it” or “asking for it” by her choice of clothing.

Civilized gentlemen are polite and civilized regardless of what the woman is or isn’t wearing.

And dangerous creeps will be dangerous and creepy regardless of what the woman is or isn’t wearing.

We had this same debate in 1870 about exposed ankles and wrists. It came back a few decades later about visible forearms. Then necklines. Then shins. It happened again when skirt hemlines crossed the kneecap, then when they crossed the thigh, then again when women’s swimsuits split into two small pieces instead of one big piece, and we’re having it again now that it’s becoming acceptable for women to dress the same as men at Canadian and American beaches, pools and parks. #FreeTheNipple is just the logical, inevitable continuation of a “my body, my decision” idea that’s been developing for a century and a half. None of the previous incremental improvements in gender equality have led to Earth-shattering crises. Rather, they’ve had quite the opposite effect, with societies that embrace gender equality being generally safer, wealthier, more successful, more productive and more free than those that are lagging behind on this front.

It turns out that, despite the fear-mongering that comes up every time the gender equality movement makes a bit of progress, civilized men are quite capable of controlling their impulses. They don’t automatically jump into “rape mode” upon seeing a scantily- or un-clad woman. Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence to show that as we get closer to complete gender equality, the rate of sexual offences drops off dramatically.

The few men who do commit sexual assaults do so because they have a badly distorted sense of right and wrong. They need help, they need education, and they need the strong arm of the law to put them in their place when they risk crossing the line. All of society needs to make it abundantly clear to these men that such conduct is not justifiable and not acceptable.

We will have succeeded in this effort when a woman can stroll naked through a city park at night, confident that the men in the vicinity – including those in uniform – will behave as respectful, civilized gentlemen. (Not that we expect many women to actually stroll naked through the park at night; the important thing is that we create conditions such that any woman would feel safe doing so if she wished.)

We have a long way to go – and it’s not just men who need attitude adjustments; there are also women out there who are actively sabotaging the drive for equality via “slut shaming” and other unethical conduct. But we’ll get there, eventually.

Positive, supportive, welcoming spaces and cultures don’t happen by accident, they happen by design. They happen when, one person at a time, we make the conscious decision to base our own lives – and our interactions with others – on the kind of values that lead to a better society.

By Matt of KFFBS

Topfreedom in Canada – What’s Legal, What’s Acceptable

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Q: Can someone who identifies as female go topfree in Canada?

A: Yes. It is legal, in Canada, for women to be topfree in any situation where it is normally acceptable for men to be topfree. In our experience, the probability of anyone having a problem with it is between 0 and 2%. (If you are ever hassled over this, get in touch with TERA. They’re very pleasant, and they don’t take bull from anyone.)

Legal theory

(Disclaimer: We’re not lawyers. This is the best consensus understanding of the law that we’ve been able to piece together from available sources. If you’re in a situation where you need a real legal opinion, ask a lawyer.)

The court case (R vs. Jacob) that set the Ontario precedent for topfreedom was won on appeal, on the grounds that the officer and trial judge had erred in assessing the definition of “indecent” – there was, in fact, no indecency in simply being topfree. The case that set the BC precedent (Maple Ridge vs. Meyer) was won on the grounds that nobody could prove any evidence of harm, and that the by-law regulating women’s attire was beyond the powers of the local government that had attempted to enact it.

No cases involving topfreedom have ever made it to a Canadian federal court. If it did, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms sec. 15(1) and sec. 28, which explicitly guarantee male-female equality in all legal matters, would undoubtedly be invoked. Indeed, Charter rights were invoked by both Jacob annd Meyer, although the judges in both cases declined to rule on those grounds.

A Criminal Code s.174 case (“nude and exposed to public view”) can only be brought with the Attorney-General’s support. “Topfree” and “nude” are not synonymous, and any such prosecution would have virtually no chance of success.

Crim. Code s.173 (“indecent act”) can still be invoked if there is real, undeniable indecency involved.

After the Ontario crown lost R. v. Jacob in the Ont. Court of Appeal, the province declined to appeal further – not stating their exact reasons, naturally. But it’s widely understood that it’s because Jacob had invoked the Charter in her arguments, the Court of Appeal had declined to rule on those grounds, and everyone knew that higher courts would have to rule based on the strict and unambiguous guarantee of legal equality in the Constitution.

Examples

It’s often easier to illustrate by example, so here’s how we would understand the law (and, on a more practical level, the cultural norms) to apply in a few common situations.

  • Topfree on a remote beach: Legal and acceptable.
  • Breastfeeding: Legal and acceptable.
  • Topfree in a private yard, apartment hallway, etc.: Legal and acceptable.
  • Topfree on a busy urban beach or park: Legal and usually acceptable, but often safer as part of a group than alone.
  • Topfree at a charity car wash: Legal; may or may not be acceptable depending on local culture.
  • Topfree at a public pool or on a beach with a lot of children: Legal, but there’s a small chance of another patron picking a fight with you over it.
  • Protesting topfree outside City Hall: Legal and (depending on city’s culture) probably acceptable, as long as the protest is peaceful.
  • Protesting topfree outside a conservative church: Probably illegal, definitely not acceptable – “intent to offend”, may be charged under Crim. Code s.173.
  • Flashing cars to advertise prostitution: Definitely illegal and not acceptable – clearly indecent, commercial purpose, will be charged under s.173.

Our experience has been that a woman on her own may, on occasion, be hassled for being topfree. However, an all-female or mixed-gender group of two or more is almost always left alone. People who might want to cause trouble tend to think better of it if they’ll be outnumbered.

While you should always assess the particular situation at hand, simply being topfree and female, in situations where being topfree and male is acceptable, is pretty clearly A-OK in Canada.

Eschewing Labels

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There’s a strong tendency, these days, to quickly slap a label on every new group, and then judge those people by the label.

We don’t want to do that.

It’s easy to start slapping labels on our group. Are we hippies? Mainstream? Rebels? Naturists? Nudists? Weirdos? Crazy? Brilliant? None of those labels, though, accurately convey who we actually are, or what we actually do.

Defining a group of people by simplistic labels introduces many problems. We’re individuals, each with different ideas, and seemingly common labels don’t necessarily have the same common meaning to everyone.

A little social-media war this week between several members of the naturist community, some of which claimed a monopoly on the “one true definition” of naturism / nudism, made this abundantly clear. (I’ll refer you to Nude Is Not Rude for an excellent, sober take on this issue.) We recently heard from one woman who was very reluctant to use the terms “naturist” or “nudist” – not because they were inaccurate in describing her way of life, but because of the judgmental conclusions that some other naturists would draw when they made the connection between her day job (erotica) and her lifestyle. Simply using the label would spark an argument with people who disagreed on its meaning.

When we start defining ourselves by a label – and forcing our own definition of that label on people who already use it in a different sense – we have lost the dialogue, honesty and open communication that are so essential to the advancement of humanity.

Human subcultures are fractally nested. No matter how narrowly and precisely you define a group, you’ll inevitably get disagreement within that group about what it is, what it should do, and what it represents. If you define the group to be “40 to 45 year old steel industry workers who enjoy listening to Dark Side of the Moon while stoned on mushrooms in the back of a half-ton pickup”, you’ll spark at least three religious wars within that group: F-150, Ram or Silverado; clean high-end hi-fi sound or big amps with big subwoofers; and whether imported or local ‘shrooms are superior.

And so the Kingston-Frontenac Free Body Society eschews labels. Sure, we’ll throw a few search terms in there as bait for potential members. But we won’t define ourselves by them. We are what we are – a group of individuals, with different ideas and different lifestyles, of far greater complexity than can be summarized in a few loaded words.

Nudity, Photography and Us

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We like having fun. We like being nude. We like the photographic arts. Why not combine the three?

Some of us have professional lives. We know that there’s nothing wrong with nudity, we know that we’ve found a way to experience the human condition in greater depth and with greater honesty than most people might imagine possible. But we still need to spend most of our lives out there in a society that’s struggling to adapt to modern reality, and some of us would almost certainly be judged unfairly if photos, without context, were to end up in the wrong hands.

The Internet is disrespectful. Respect is at the core of what the Free Body Society is all about. It’s also the polar opposite of what online cesspools such as 4chan are all about. There’s a small but non-negligible chance that our photos would be stolen, manipulated, and re-branded as “amateur voyeur porn” or something like that. So, while we’ll happily post photography by and of KFFBS members who want us to share it, we’ll never pressure our members into being photographed.

It can distract from the message. KFFBS is about doing real things in real space; our online presence is mainly to ensure that anyone who’s potentially interested can find out about us, learn what we’re about, and get in touch. As our friends at YNA recently pointed out, there are already plenty of places where you can find page after page of photos of naked people, with little context or meaning. That’s not what we’re about.

This is not to say we disapprove of photography! Indeed, the “Body Pride” workshops of C.K. Roberts – which we think are just brilliant – use the empowering magic of photography as a key component, and our friends at NYC’s Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society make great use of great images to prove how natural, normal and relaxing these kind of events are. One of our co-founders is a part-time pro photographer, and – like pretty much everyone with access to a camera – most of us have been photographed naked at some point.

But the only images we share here will be those volunteered by our members, with the informed consent of everyone involved.

 

Why Clothing-Optional?

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“Why is the group clothing-optional?”

The simple answer:

Freedom.

The detailed answer:

It’s easier, really, to add up the reasons why we might wear clothing, and then see what’s left if none of them apply.

Pretty much every garment has a purpose that is some combination of:

  1. To provide protection from the elements, harsh conditions, or hazards.
  2. To indicate rank or status.
  3. To shape other people’s impressions of the wearer.
  4. To comply with cultural norms and rules laid down by other people.

To expand on those categories, we can consider some familiar examples:

  1. Protective clothes include winter coats, bug- and brush-resistant jeans, mechanic’s coveralls, welders’ smocks, and sailors’ foul-weather gear.
  2. Military uniforms, business suits and red-carpet dresses are primarily about showing off one’s high status, rank, wealth or power.
  3. Bikinis and lingerie are designed to draw the eye to specific areas in a sexually appealing way; billowing pastel-and-lace long-sleeve dresses are designed to symbolize traditional religious purity; biker leather is designed to make the wearer instantly identifiable as part of a specific subculture.
  4. Most of our day-to-day attire is chosen, in large part, according to what other people like us seem to be wearing. Swimsuits, which serve no practical purpose outside of elite competition, are a classic example.

How does that apply to us?

We don’t have or want rank or status here. However those things might affect you in day-to-day life, they’re irrelevant to us.

We do have equality here; garments that specifically try to emphasize or repress sexuality or to put the wearer in a specific category tend to work contrary to that goal, and it’s much easier to be truly honest and open with someone when there’s nothing to hide.

And we’ve found that real freedom is pretty hard to experience when other people are judging your inherent worth as a human based on the fabrics that happen to be covering you at the time.

That leaves only protection – a logical, practical category that we Canadians, with our long cold winter and bug-ridden spring, can’t ignore.

So we try to be nude when it’s possible, we bundle up with fabrics when it’s practical, and the choice of what (if anything) to wear is up to each individual.