About 350 cyclists, all in varying degrees of clothing – most completely nude – rode through downtown Friday afternoon in the name of body positivity.
The occasion was the ninth annual Bellingham World Naked Bike Ride, an event intended to highlight not only body image, but also fossil fuel dependency and cyclist safety, said Zachary Robertson, an organizer.
I’ve really come to accept that every body – literally every body – is beautiful in its own way.
Natalie Fedak, Bellingham World Naked Bike Ride organizer
Robertson said the political climate called for a new emphasis on “what standards we hold for ourselves as human beings.”
“Our president at the current is someone who says that he cannot control himself around beautiful women,” he added. “We ride the streets with great human self-control and we expect that from others around us, too.”
Riders gathered at Hub Community Bike Shop on State Street at 3 p.m. for body painting and live folk music. Organizers at the Hub entrance explained expectations for participants, handing out pamphlets with instructions on “how not to creep around naked people.”
Rachel Kaveh, 20, an organizer who greeted people at the entrance, said it was her first time participating in the event.
“Everybody seemed super excited about it, and it actually just really resonated with me because I’ve always wanted to be in comfort with my body and I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to do that,” she said.
Natalie Fedak, 23, said she was participating in her third naked bike ride.
“The demonization and sexualization of nudity is a cultural concept,” she said. “Being out here for my third year and now helping to coordinate it, I’ve really come to accept that every body – literally every body – is beautiful in its own way.”
Bellingham Police officers also stopped by to explain the state’s indecent exposure law. No complaints were filed against any riders, said Lt. Mike Johnston.
The ride, which left Hub at 6 p.m., stuck to surface streets downtown and was met at many intersections with cheering onlookers.