Photography by Zoe Efron
I stood before my bedroom mirror, appraising my naked body. I thought to myself, “Nope. No one needs to see this. Sure, I’ll do Prosh—but nudity is where I draw the line.”
Little did I know that Prosh is a week where the ‘line’ is constantly erased and moved a little further.
I underwent some sort of metamorphosis during Prosh—I emerged from my cocoon of cultural reservations completely naked and covered in olive oil (and yes, that metaphor is a little bit literal).
Before Prosh week, I was hardly comfortable in my bikini at the beach. Being an anoymous and shy jaffy, fresh out of high school, only a small audience had been privy to my naked body and I was adamant that I wasn’t getting naked for ‘points’. The first nude event of Prosh was the Nudie Run around uni, and the thought of anyone recognising me as one of the pack was mortifying.
Despite this, I found myself in South Car Park on a pleasant Wednesday morning. The herd was already on the move; I was given the briefest of moments to decide whether or not to commit to the Nudie Run. Perhaps the decision was a subconscious one. I tore off my clothes and tossed them to my housemate, desperate to catch the group as I had arrived a little late—you really don’t want to be the one left behind without any clothes on.
I had been so caught up in my body-consciousness that I didn’t realise what my real problem with the nudie run would be—the pathetic state of my physical fitness. Clothed or unclothed, I will always find running laps around university exhausting. As I began to run, I instinctively covered my breasts for a while, before remembering that I was completely naked and there is no point in clinging onto any shred of modesty.
Unsurprisingly, the nude group was spotted by a new acquaintance of mine. Contrary to my previous assumptions, no one told me about the inconspicuousness of communal nudity. You are, ironically, perfectly concealed in a completely uncovered way. So while my naked body was spotted by someone I knew, I wasn’t. It’s the perfect (and cheapest) disguise.
This became apparent to me again later that night. I had told myself that cheeky streaking was where I was drawing the line; the thought of competing in the Naked Olympics—and playing games like wheelbarrow races and ‘front piggy backs’—felt a little too out of my depth.
Nevertheless, I found myself competing. It might have been the thought of being left behind while everyone else stripped off and frolicked in the night. I found that once I had overcome the initial fears of being naked, it wasn’t difficult to do it again.
While I stood on South Lawn, gazing (non-specifically) upon the 300 naked bodies, I noticed something amazing. It was quite dark, but there with just enough light to see that everyone was different, standing free and naked in their natural splendour. There were moments when I could hardly recognise some of my friends without their clothes on (have you ever tried to find someone in a throng of naked people? Near impossible). South Lawn had become a judgement-free zone, and it was there that I discovered that I’m actually okay with naked contact in a non-sexual context. That was where I drew the line, though – I won’t be in any naked pictures or anything, that’d be going a bit too far.
Of course, I was rapidly becoming aware of the fact that the lines in my head didn’t mean shit. During the Prosh 24-hour Scavenger Hunt, there were many photos taken of me that would undoubtedly jeopardise my illustrious career in politics. I don’t think I’ll discuss those.
There was one final line I drew: regardless of all the radical changes to my self-perception over those few days, I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to disrobe solo.
Under the stark fluorescent lighting, the students ranged from bored to fervently scribbling down notes during a maths lecture. The lecturer was in the middle of jotting yet more numbers on the board when the door swung open and I, adorned with nothing but pink and purple balloons, launched in. They scarcely covered my body—not that it really mattered, I popped them one by one while singing Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’, Edna Krabappel-style. By the time the song was finished, I was completely exposed, running out of the theatre as my stunned audience applauded.
When I envisioned my future at university, I was picturing a few old couches arranged to face each other, while my cultured friends and I discussed politics, philosophy and other important things. I was picturing myself poring over books in the library, my mind opening to new possibilities between the words of academics before me. I presumed that among all this, I would “discover myself along the way”. What I didn’t expect to discover was that the experience of a chilly (but not unpleasant) breeze across my naked body is one of the most liberating.
Once again, I was wrong. I don’t even know where my line is now.