Barenaked Leaders

Are men funnier than women? Well, their naked bodies sure are.

When I first saw the nude painting of prime minister Stephen Harper circulating on the Internet I laughed, and I’m guessing that was the reaction most people had. I’m also guessing that if the artist had painted a famous female politician in this same manner, it wouldn’t have been perceived as witty at all.

On a lark I produced a fun video exploring how much better the world would be if more artists painted presidents and prime ministers in the buff and gave examples of what that could look like. Yet pairing up political noggins with naked bodies in Photoshop was only humorous if the subjects were male. A fact my videographer, who was working on this task, found distressing.

“Another guy?!” Jason groaned after about the tenth set I sent. “Can’t you find some feminine figures for me to work with?”

I complied and sent him a topless man in a tutu.

Knowing that wasn’t what he had in mind, I thought about this double standard. It reminded me of the difference in reactions between male and female strippers. I’ve seen both, and believe me, the experience doesn’t compare.

When I was 20 one of the ladies was retiring from the newspaper where we both worked and a large group of us went to “Ladies Night” at a local club. I had no idea that some of these sophisticated women I’d looked up to would turn into wild-eyed lunatics when the male dancers started their rhythmic undress. The hooting and hollering from the audience was accompanied by so much laughter that they quickly became more entertaining to watch than the men on stage.

It would have been a completely different scene if the roles were reversed.

Whether a guy’s got a six pack or a keg for a belly, the random image of his nakedness will more than likely illicit giggles than lust. I’m not sure why that is, except that it’s a much less common sight to see. After finding far less nude males on the Internet in comparison to women, I now have proof of that.

“I don’t like it,” my friend said in response to the full monty painting of our prime minister. “I think it’s humiliating.”

A portrait that Stephen Harper never posed for and was purely based on the artist’s imagination shouldn’t be humiliating, but I tried to understand where she was coming from.

Personally, I liked it, and not just because it made me laugh or because of Margaret Sutherland’s political statement.

I liked it because it reminded me that no matter what our position is in life, we are all just human beings and as naked and exposed as the day we were born. Most of us just choose to wear clothes that cover that fact.

To watch my short video “Barenaked Leaders,” please visit LoriWelbourne.com  or watch it on YouTube

The naked truth

Just as my husband was stepping out of the shower, our six year old daughter entered the bathroom.

“Daddy is barenaked!” she exclaimed. “That’s so disgusting!”

Passing by in the hallway I had to laugh. “That’s not nice, Daisy. You could hurt Daddy’s feelings.”

Looking at me as if that made no sense at all, she left the bathroom rolling her eyes.

“You look good,” I reassured my husband. “Yesterday she did the same thing to me. I was putting on my bra and she walked in our room, said ‘eeeeeeew, gross!’ and turned and walked away.”

Good thing we both have healthy self esteem.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that Daisy was carefree about the human body, running around the house with no clothes on herself. She never seemed to notice if one of us was partially naked either. I’m not sure what changed, but she now requires complete privacy for everything, and a blindfold if she catches us in a state of undress.

So what made her so self-conscious and disgusted by nudity? I ought to know, I suppose, because that transition happened to me too.

Like most toddlers, I pranced around in my birthday suit with not a care in the world, completely comfortable with my parents’ nudity as well. But, as I got older, not so much. We had a swimming pool and my dad was partial to skinny-dipping. As a teenager I remember having to make special requests.

“Dad, can you please put on a bathing suit?” I would ask. “My friends are coming over.”

“Okay, Honey,” he’d reply, and come back wearing a flesh colored Speedo with a little strawberry on the hip.

A slight improvement, I’d think to myself. Thank goodness my dad hadn’t discovered the thong or there would have been even less fabric on his body

I’m sure. With a father like mine, I sometimes wonder how I could have become uptight about nudity at all. All I know is that I still have issues.

“I’d like to stay at a hotel with a topless pool,” our friend told us last week as we were planning a trip to Las Vegas with them.

“A what?!” I replied.

“A hotel with a topless pool,” she repeated. “I like to get an even tan. Why? Does that make you feel uncomfortable?”

Pretending to be cool I replied, “Um, no, not at all. I’ve just never heard of such a thing.”

My husband looked at me and laughed. “Lori would not go topless,” he told them.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I might.”

“In a public place? No way,” he said laughing again. Uh oh. That sounded a bit like a dare.

“It’s no big deal in Europe,” my friend said. “Lots of their beaches are topless.”

And so they should be. I’ve often thought it bizarre that in most of North America, a woman isn’t allowed to go topless mowing her very own lawn, yet a man is welcome to bare his nipples just about anywhere.

Despite my desire for equality, I know that my husband is correct, I probably wouldn’t exercise my right anyways. Not even if I were dared, if I was in Sin City or if my disgusted daughter was in another town.

But, you just never know, I’ve heard that whatever happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas…

To read other columns by Lori visit her at loriwelbourne.com

To view her comedy skits visit loriandlisa.com