A character naked since birth (and is the only one naked) -- response to a reader
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
On the “Naked Fiction Story Board” site (referenced in the “Sites I Like” page, see above), someone asked me to write a story about a girl who has been naked since birth. I have already written such a story, in fact two of them, involving not one but seven such girls -- “Some Notes on the Maik-lings” and “Further Notes on the Maik-lings”. See the “Stories” tab above. (More on those below.)
Any good story must be, as it unwinds, plausible. Often the reader has to “suspend disbelief”. The initial premise of the story might be eye-rollingly outlandish, but you can sell it if everything afterwards plays out like it might in real life. “The Unintentional Nudist” is an example: caught streaking and threatened with expulsion, Tami cooks up the excuse that nudism is her religion. No college administrator would buy that story. But even if he did, and even if the college was genuinely concerned about a religious discrimination lawsuit, they wouldn’t force the girl to go naked from then on. A college that considers streaking an expellable offense is not going to tolerate a naked girl walking around campus. They’d work it out, allowing her to put on clothes and maybe penalize her in some other way.
But given its premise, “The Unintentional Nudist” then unfolded as it might in real life -- Tami’s cringing feelings about being naked, the reactions of her friends, how a naked girl would actually navigate the life of a college freshman, and (to drive the story along) the bureaucratic mentality which could not admit error and forced Tami into worse and worse humiliations, so that finally the story (according to one reviewer) “surprisingly turned into an inspiring tale of friendship and inner strength”. But . . . as someone once said, you can suspend disbelief only once. If you spring a second outlandish premise, the reader’s interest goes pffft. If, for example, Wanda, having gone too far even for the Dean, gets threatened with expulsion for her abuse of Tami, and they accept her excuse that sadism is her religion -- pffft.
What would be the premise of a character who has been naked since birth? How would that happen? In the “Maik-lings” stories, I set the story in a remote region of China, which as the reader knows is a gigantic country run by a brutal and secretive Communist regime. People there do what they’re told, especially females. The seven Maik-lings have been naked since birth. (The engineer-narrator guesses this, and we learn it for sure in their brief appearance in “Five Mailgirls”.) Why? It’s a mystery to the engineer, who is nonplussed by the disappearance of one of the girls at the end of the second story, but in “Five Mailgirls” there is the clue (if you read carefully) that they are being groomed for the “Guanxi” life (sex shows for foreign businessmen). As an explanation for lifetime nudity this is not entirely satisfactory. The girls didn’t have to be naked since birth -- they could have been stripped at a later point, like the Chinese Mailgirls who assist Tami in “Five Mailgirls”. Also, to base their nudity on the whims of a mysterious evil force is a lazy way out.
Another possible scenario for lifelong nudity is Kai-Kai’s situation as the Sire in The Sire Project. Because of his unique genes, the world’s autoimmune pandemic can be eradicated only if he fathers thousands of children (see my previous post) on a schedule of seven per day. Consequently he can’t be bothered with always taking pants on and off, and the frequent medical monitoring/examination required is easier with his being unclothed.
Angela had been told there were two reasons for Kai-Kai’s permanent nudity. The first, to improve sperm count by keeping the testicles aerated and cool, didn’t sound convincing. He didn’t have to be totally naked for that. But she could see the wisdom of the second: the Sire cannot have any sense of bodily modesty. Truly this boy had no sense of bodily shame, yet he was not an exhibitionist and never gave a sense of showing off.
-- The Sire Project, Part I (“Weekly Sire Inspection”), ch. 3.
This might be, at least partly, a better explanation for lifelong nudity than in “Maik-lings” -- Kai-Kai is unique due to an accident of birth. A related premise, set in a faraway time and place, would be a girl who was “born” to be the high priestess and by religious dogma can never wear clothes.
Or the person could have a lifelong allergy to clothes. This is the case in “The End of Blanke Schande” as to the unseen character Basji. Perhaps I could expand on that story, though Basji is about to start at BSC where she would no longer be the only naked person.
This brings me to another consideration. A character of young years (say, age 19) is naked all the time in a world where everyone is clothed. What about her parents?
I set aside incest stories (yuck) or parents who are nudists (remember, she’s the only one naked). How are her parents handling her situation? In “The Girl in the Mirror”, where Tami is home on Christmas break, I try to depict how her parents deal with the college forcing her to be naked. Not altogether successfully. The father insists she made her bed and must lie in it, but what a bed! And the mother just goes along with the father. Any reasonable parent would tell his daughter to put clothes on already, and also he’d call up the Dean and give him a stern talking-to.
In The Sire Project I tried to avoid this problem by killing off the naked character’s biological parents when he was two weeks old (in a terrorist attack). DNA testing as part of the adoption process revealed his special gene, and the couple that adopted him was already associated with the Project and decided to go along with the protocols (including nudity) that had already been formulated should a “Sire” be found. They were faculty in a liberal-minded college in a small liberal-minded town in Northern California and Kai-Kai’s growing up naked went smoothly. There was occasional teasing but that was all.
This was the best I could do. Making the naked character an orphan, without any parents at all, biological or adoptive, is to me a cop-out. So is setting the story in a society where babies are sold as slaves, or in a post-apocalyptic world where family structures have broken down. In short, the position of the parents in a story involving a naked young woman (or man) is an unsolved conundrum.
Let’s move on further. Let’s assume we’ve established a premise as to why a character has been naked since birth, and we’ve solved the problem of parents. What else naturally follows about this character, this girl who has been naked since birth?
1. As an initial detail she could not have been naked from the actual day she was born. Realistically she had to wear diapers until she was toilet-trained. Of course by the time the story takes place she would not remember that.
2. She would not have any sense of modesty. It does not make any sense for a girl naked from birth to be an “embarrassed nude female”. Never having worn clothes, she does not miss them. Tami Smithers, in an attempt to fight back her feelings of shame, imagines herself as a beautiful “Princess Tami the Nude”, naked since birth, and requested by her people to never wear clothes so that the sight of her beauty might never be denied them. (See “‘Tami Smithers Was Here’” and “Tami, the Naked Freshman”.) But Tami grew up in clothes, and this fantasy only works for her for a few moments until another humiliation is piled on.
3. The naked character’s nudity would not be a handicap. She could do practically anything the other characters could. She would not need clothes. One can imagine a story of lifelong cruelty where, for some reason, lack of clothes is a preternatural punishment, but that’s not my genre. As my home page says, “I write strong naked characters.” In college I saw a film about a girl who was born without arms. She had taught herself to do a lot of things with her teeth, or her feet, and somehow lived a more or less normal life. A girl naked from birth would find ways to do things, especially if (like the girl in the film) she was surrounded by love and support. She would be strong and capable, not weak and submissive.
4. She would be fairly (and to us, surprisingly) resistant to weather and rough surfaces. The human body is hardier than we think. Feral children have been known to run naked in the snow, and to put their hands into boiling water to get a potato. The naked character’s feet would be tough from a lifetime of walking barefoot. Nor would she get sunburn; and due to her skin being used to the sun she would not have the concern as to skin cancer seen in nudist camps, where body parts normally always covered are suddenly exposed. Her muscles would be better developed by never having been constricted by clothes; her gait more healthy with feet not ruined by shoes. She would have learned to do things with her (always out and available) nipples, toes, and other body parts that for most people are encased and hidden. In “The End of Blanke Schande”, some of the girls even carry things around in their vaginas and rectums, easily inserted and easily retrieved.
5. She would not understand feelings of modesty. To switch again to the male version for a moment, late in The Sire Project Kai-Kai tells Angela that he is aware of the societal norm as to modesty, and makes allowances for it (e.g., he doesn’t pee in public even though he is perfectly able to). But he does not understand it. In fact he’s noticed that clothes, aside from the bother and the expense, get people into status games; as he put it, “I’m glad I’m not in that world.” By that time he has developed strong feelings for the world’s endangered cultures and notes that some of them, such as in the Amazon basin, don’t wear clothes and don’t want to.
6. She experiences sensations others can’t. Once the warm weather comes, Tami realizes she is the only one on campus allowed to enjoy running naked through the rain. (See Part 15 of “Coming to the End”.) Later during the summer she enjoys being hit by little hailstones, sprayed by sprinklers in an orange grove, rolling in prairie grass, and diving into a lake (“‘Tami Smithers Was Here’”). She learns to predict the weather with her nipples. “Breathing” with her entire body, she can even to some extent intuit people’s thoughts and feelings. All this would also be true for someone naked since birth. As for Kai-Kai, who can also forecast the weather with his nipples, he can detect tiny seismic tremors through his bare feet. And his personality is as unguarded and accessible to everyone’s view as his body. He is honest, guileless. There is a reason why, in classical sculpture, the figure of “Truth” is always depicted naked -- nothing to hide.
7. When the naked character is with others, especially people who don’t know her well, it’s the other (clothed) people who are embarrassed, not her. She is unconcerned if not actually oblivious; but they are keenly aware of society’s sense of decency, and wish she could somehow put on clothes so as to stop their squirming. In a similar vein, they are trying very hard not to stare at her nudity, or to be caught staring by the other clothed people. As to what the naked girl thinks about being gawked at, she probably doesn’t care, or is even a bit amused. And of course she would have a lot of power over men. As one of the characters in “Five Mailgirls” pointed out, a naked girl who has conquered modesty can take over a room and reduce all the men to worshipful babbling idiots.
8. Finally her sexuality would be freer. She has never been able to hide the signs of sexual arousal, her nipples being erect, the smell of musk from below, and so would not be ashamed of them. Tami was doubly embarrassed by being stripped and by being coerced into having orgasms in Lab 6 while being watched by McMasters and his associates. Neither aspect of embarrassment would apply to our naked-from-birth character. Again, it would be the clothed people around her who would be embarrassed, at the smell of musk and the sight of her nipples getting hard. As for the naked girl, unafraid to display one aspect of her sexual functioning, it would be easier for her to progress to other aspects.
Any thoughts along these lines would be appreciated. As always, if you haven’t signed up for this site, you can comment anonymously at the box above.