Tuesday, 19 September 2006
In Carol Shields's short story 'Dressing Down' a boy whose grandfather is an ardent believer in naturism and a practising nudist describes his grandmother's response, expressing her disapproval and opposition by the way she covers herself and her surroundings in layers and layers of cloth:

"My grandmother's disinclination for nudity would not have surprised those who knew her well. Her interest was in covering up, not stripping down. The same week she married my grandfather, she'd curtains and heavy draperies made for the windows of the house they bought on Macklin Avenue. By the following summer slip-covers dressed the wicker porch furniture. Scarves in broderie anglaise adorned every bureau. Pillows in my grandparents' house were fitted with under-covers as well as over-covers, and she herself sewed a sort of skirt in flowered chintz, which was tied prettily with bias tape around the wringer washing machine when it was not in use. Lace doilies sat on the arms and back of every chair. Woollen throws were flung across the various sofas. Rugs lay scattered everywhere upon the thick carpets. Fullness, plumpness, doubleness. . Hers was a house where one could imagine the possibility of suffocation.

Her own clothing, needless to say, comprised layers of underclothes, foundation garments, garters and stockings, brassieres, camisoles, slips, blouses, cardigans, lined skirts, aprons, and even good aprons worn over the everyday aprons. Her mind drifted towards texture, fabric, protection, and warmth, as though she could never burrow deeply enough into the folds of herself.

Which was why she had so much difficulty taking part in the annual July rites at Lake Simcoe. Naturism was not her nature. Nudity was the cross she bore."

( Caroline Shields, Dressing Down, in Carol Shields, Dressing up for the Carnival, QPD London 2000, p.237/238.)