For some in the naturist community there has been an uproar over a recent segment of the Ellen Show. During an interview with Simon Cowell, the topic of Simon and his wife finding themselves on a nude beach arises. Simon makes a number of comments that were not overly flattering towards nudists, including references to “large or small what-sits” (suggesting mainly small), an observation about “how many ugly people there are” on the beaches, etc.
Ellen’s only comment, which seems to have become the issue with some nudists, was this:
I’ve not been to one, but I’ve heard that the people that are most comfortable with their bodies like that, are people that shouldn’t be.
Is this really more offensive than what Cowell says? I don’t think so, yet there appears to be no outcry towards him. Why?
Over at Get Naked, Get Awesome blog, Andy shares his thinking about this whole issue. It is definitely worth the read, as it sums up my thoughts – for the most part – on this issue (he words my thoughts so much better). Here is my comment responding to his blog post (which I’m cross-posting here):
Thank you. I have been troubled by this energy to “out” Ellen as a bigot over this issue amongst a small number of naturists. I don’t want to discount others’ beliefs and opinions, but in the more wider context of naturism, is this really an issue that will make an impact? Seriously?
Were the words said by Ellen offensive, I can see how they may be, however I really think that Ellen was reflecting on a much more widely held belief that she doesn’t really know as she’s never been. Were they bigoted (as some have suggested)? No, not in my thinking. Merriam-Webster defines ‘bigot’ as, “a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group).” Does Ellen hate naturists? Has she taken to the stage on a campaign to express her dislike for naturists?
The more offensive language comes from Simon Cowell when he suggests that naturists are ugly. The reality is that this is Simon Cowell (not making an excuse for him) and this is what he does (it’s his “thing”). There are plenty of others “out there” who make the same ignorant and baseless comments; are we to start policing them all, or is Ellen an easy target.
One commenter shares that “[w]e have the option now to make our feelings known on a national, no, worldwide stage.” Really? Has anyone really thought that through. Sure Ellen has serious segments (i.e. without comedic relief), but the whole premise of her show is based on humor. That commenter goes on to say that “AANR has openly expressed the opinion that Ellen has acted in a bigoted fashion and has requested an opportunity to present our position on national television.” If AANR had decent PR guidance, they would have expressed concern (without name calling), and offered to educate Ellen on the naturist lifestyle. But no, they call her a bigot and demand air time. Way to advance our cause!
Like you, I can’t get angry over this when I look at the context of the segment. Could it have been done differently, yes. Have we – as naturists – taken the time to reach out to educate people who hold ignorant views, not really. Well, not appropriately. It’s almost like a group of us have taken the role to campaign against Ellen and her thoughts in a strong way, and we are refusing to accept her right to hold whatever views she has. Isn’t that what Merriam-Webster defines as a bigot?