Letters to DOMAI
Dear DOMAILike most boys in America the sight of a nude woman was truly exceptional for me. Well, maybe it's not as hard these days with easy access to images on the internet, but back in the 70's things were different. Even though the hippie generation had come and gone public nudity was not prevalent. My only exposure to the undressed female form was from a Playboy magazine that I came upon once and pictures from my mother's medical books.
Now I have never been into pornography. My males friends - all married with children like me - marvel at the fact that I have no interest. My curiosity was cured me in college when I went to a club in New York City with my roommate. I was never so disgusted in my life. it really cheapened women and sexuality. That does not, however, mean that I don't appreciate and love the beauty of the female body. In fact I can think of nothing more beautiful. I think my feelings were formed back when I was a teenager, back when I first laid eyes on an nude woman.
When I was 16 my parents sent me off to the "Outward Bound" school at Hurricane Island in Maine. Ahead of me lay 28 days of sailing, rock climbing and activities designed to launch me into manhood. The day I arrived at the pickup spot in Rockland I was assigned to a boat. Yes, I was to spend the month of June in a 30 foot catch (10m). For those of you who are not familiar with a catch, it is a two masted, retractable keel, open sailboat. When I say open, I mean open. There was no cabin, no head (toilet), no enclosure whatsoever. There were several rows of benches which were to be our home, all 15 of us. Did I mention that more than half of the group were young women?
Spending days on end on a sailboat with no privacy called for a major recalibration in everyone's thinking - that is for all of us but our two leaders for whom this was old hat. We learned very quickly that it just didn't do to try to "hold it" until we reached landfall again. Before long we all came to terms that the gunwale did more than keep the ocean out, it's where we sat when nature called. In little time we grew accepting and did not feel embarassed every time someone had to go, but still there was considerable discretion. Still most were a bit shy and covered themselves. All that was about to change.
The day we returned to Hurricane Island after several days out at sea is when it all changed. Having lived in such close quarters for so long we were all quite comfortable with each other and were also quite dirty. After a run around the island our leaders took us down to the showers for one our first acts of personal hygiene since we arrived. My leader, Annie, set the stage. Without hesitation or a hint of modesty she disrobed and walked into the open shower room. The sight of her nude form was both exhilarating and unnerving. My heart raced as I saw before me perfectly shaped breasts wet with sweat. The gentle curve of the small of her back guided my eyes to a firm, rounded bottom. I was frozen in place just watching her.
Others around me too were amazed, both guys and gals. Soon though we overcame the moment and shed our clothes. Within moments we were all happily showering in the nude, lathered up and scrubbing off the grime of our time on the ocean. It seemed so natural and liberating. There was absolutely nothing that seemed wrong about it.
In the coming week we were tested yet again. Our leaders asked us to set camp after stopping at an island up the Maine coast for the night. While we were busy making a fire and building shelter our fearless leaders were leaving with the boat. We were about to experience our group solo. The real challenge was that most of our gear was still on the boat. We had six sleeping bags for the lot of us. Now it can get quite cool at night in Maine in June and this night was no exception. When the time came for sleep we had to get creative. We made two large bags by zipping three together and prepared ourselves for a group sleeps. My three bag mates turned out to be girls. There wasn't room for our bodies and clothes so off they went and into the sack we went all in our full glory. I have to say that the feeling the softness and warmth of the gals on either side of me was wonderful. Not once did I or those with me, though, even think of sex. Like me they were exhausted and wanted nothing more than sleep.
My time at Outward Bound did more than make me feel comfortable about nudity. It made me appreciate women as the truly beautiful people that they are not objects of sexual desire. That said I commend your site and efforts. All woman are beautiful and are cause for celebration. You created the photographic gold standard of how women should be portrayed.
Update from Jim:
I've been to the Outward Bound school on Hurricane Island, and I've seen the open boats in which Paolo had his epiphany. They are "ketches", not "catches", but otherwise, his description is accurate, even understated. Beamy, fat, open boats, double-ended, if memory serves. Propelled by long sweeps or by sails, there is nowhere to get out of the weather or out of sight. There are wooden thwarts to sit upon, and the oars laid across them for a place to sleep up out of the bilge water. A ten mile ride in one would be an experience to start one examining his soul. An over-several-nights trip will break you or make you a new person, which is, of course, the whole point of Outward Bound. He forgot to mention that, located at the mouth of Penobscot Bay on the rock-bound coast of Maine, the water temperature for his voyage, and the traditional plunge off the end of the dock, probably did not at any time exceed about 58 degrees Fahrenheit, and was likely nearer 45 - the temperature of the cold water you are served in a restaurant. It makes your scalp feel like it's shrinking so tight that a sudden movement (like taking a breath) will make it split open. You really expect even the girls to leave their experience there with hair on their chests!