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Fair Fashion Varies from Standard to Exhibitionist

Brian Bull

The Oregon Country Fair is a chance to relax and “let it all hang out,” so to speak.  But while most people are fine with the standard summer attire of shorts and a t-shirt, or a billowy dress with wide-brimmed hat, others are more comfortable with skimpy garments or even just a layer of paint.  KLCC’s Brian Bull visited with a young couple who mostly went au naturel to this annual event.

Emily Smith’s “attire” is like a weather forecast…mostly clear with only a few clouds. The 20-something from Bellingham, Washington is exploring the fair topless, with a rainbow painted across her chest, and strategically-placed clouds painted over her breasts.

BULL: "Has anyone just outright called you an exhibitionist for this attire?"

SMITH: "No, I think the fair is about being an exhibitionist, so wouldn’t be a negative thing y’know, if people thought that.”

Emily is accompanied by Conner Baker, also from Bellingham.  He describes his modest outfit:

BAKER: “Pink underwear, with rainbow thong over it.  And I have some rainbow leggings, and a rainbow cape.  With some Batman sunglasses.”

Conner admits he was nervous at first, but has become more confident as the day has gone on.  He and Emily are part of a group that are going to switch from rainbows to galaxies as the fair continues.

I’ll let you conjure up your own celestial images of what that get-up means for Conner and Emily. 

SMITH: “Yeah, we had the same theme, dressing up is definitely about expressing myself and being free, and wearing what my inner, silly spirit wants to wear."

BULL:  "You’re both half-naked!"

SMITH:  "We are half naked!"

BAKER: "Yes!"

SMITH: "Embracing the nature as well."

BULL: "Was it  easy to go out in public, with all these throngs of people…in your half-dressed way?"

SMITH: "I think the last time I was here,  there was definitely more people who were wearing very little clothing.  So it was a little challenging, but I just…I’m comfortable, I think it’s fun.”

But both semi-nudists say their skimpy rainbow attire is also to promote acceptance of diversity...a message laid bare in recent headlines.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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