A letter from the editor: On the response to nudity

Dear reader,

There is no nudity in this issue. There are no bums on cover, there is no penis in the centre spread and the online content of such body parts is pushing lower and lower in our feed as we update the site with fresh stories. In fact, the only things that are bare this month are my preconceptions of Waterloo Region.

I expected reaction to “Live nudes,” a story I wrote about my nude walk through THEMUSEUM’s gallery; I expected some discussion about the frontal nudity in centre spread, and I expected some hurtful jokes about my own body’s presence in the article itself. I did not, however expect such polarization.

To those who expressed vast and unexpected support for the story, thank you. Whether you shared your experience, shared the story online or sent me a note to say you admired the moxie, your words were taken with incredible appreciation.

To those who expressed opposition to the story, the exhibit, the comments or the images, thank you. Dialogue is the point and with a story like “Live nudes,” that teeters on taboo, I think it would have been for naught without your feedback.

To those who expressed opposition to my body, my ethics or the Community Edition’s journalism at large, thank you. You were the inspiration for the story. In a culture where art that hosts or implies nudity is unnerving, undiscussed and cause for the the over-sexualization of a journalist’s body, it is time to start a conversation.

I felt this as soon as I wavered on whether or not I would walk through the gallery. I felt this when I penned the experiential story. I felt this when your words varying from support and harassment flooded my inbox. And I felt this when entire stacks of TCE were repeatedly removed from stands, likely without considering the words, but judging only the exterior of the paper.

While many publications framed THEMUSEUM’s “Getting Naked” with the assumed preparedness of their audience in mind, TCE said “we know our demographic, we cannot assume their worldview.” I assure you that our team was nothing but methodic in choice of image, choice of words, placement of photos – all to add to an illustration of the truth of one experience. We were patient in our responses and diligent in avoiding censorship; nothing could have been more hypocritical than suppressing your thoughts.

No nudity this month, dear readers. But by stripping clothes, I stripped so much of what I thought I knew about journalism and of Waterloo Region.

Thanks for the clean slate,

Allison M. Leonard
Editor in Chief