We’re not exactly loath to do some nude swimming here at Shanghaiist. In fact, there are plenty of places we’d go skinny-dipping. You know the pool where Elle Macpherson swims around naked in the film Sirens? That’s one of them.
There are, however, locations we’d avoid. These include Amity Island, the Amazon (those piranhas — ouch!) and anywhere in the northeast of China in winter (shrinkage factor).
But it is these very northeasterners (dong bei ren) who seem keener than most to get their kit off before going for a splash. Okay, so they might leave some clothing on when swimming in December — not much, mind you — but now that summer is here, it’s au naturel every step of the way.
Xinhua reports on a fuss that a group of naked swimmers has created in Liaoning Province. A woman enjoying an after-dinner walk with her family was one of those who spied the skinny-dippers:
“I was totally stunned and flushed at the first sight of these naked men,” Wednesday’s China Daily quoted Zhao Yanjie, who lives nearby the bank of the Hunhe River in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province.
The response of the swimmers? Nude’s not lewd:
“This is only an ordinary outdoor sport. We can fully relax ourselves and merge with nature,” one nude swimmer in Shenyang was quoted as saying. He said all swimmers are ordinary workers and they enjoy the feeling they get.
Fair point, though it didn’t stop Zhao Yanjie from calling the police. Still, there’s not a lot they could do about it, thanks to a legal loophole:
There is no law in China banning nude swimming or nude beaches, according to Xu Yuanfeng, an expert at a local legal affairs agency. Besides, he said any activity that respects the social ethical code and does not harm the public interest can be accepted.
What we can’t understand is that, amidst all this kerfuffle, nobody has pointed out one other crucial factor at play here. Shenyang in Liaoning Province consistently rates among the world’s most polluted cities. Why would anyone want to swim in any body of water up there, particularly unclothed, with all their bits exposed to the elements? (And by elements, we mean the ones found towards the bottom-right of the Periodic Table.)
We think if they ever do ban nude swimming it will be easy to spot those who are still doing it — they’ll be the ones constantly scratching their raw, irritated skin.