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I Am Not Naked.

February 18, 2014
Peter, a university student, was shy before he stripped down, but seemed to have a good time once he was in front of the camera.

Peter Abiaad, 22, a university student, was shy before he stripped down, but seemed to have a good time once he was in front of the camera.

Lebanese people are stripping to stand up for Jackie Chamoun, 22, and posting the photos on social media, after the Lebanese Olympic skier’s participation in a risque Austrian calendar photo-shoot drew a slew of criticism from the country’s government – the now former caretaker Minister of Youth and Sports, Faisal Karami, in particular – and sparked a government investigation.

Amidst the social media frenzy surrounding Chamoun, the campaign, “I Am Not Naked,” was born, co-founded by four friends, some of whom know Jackie well, on Facebook. I Am Not Naked has gone viral both in Lebanon and internationally, prompting scores of Lebanese youth waiting for their turn to be photographed for the page. Many see this as a way to stand up not only for Jackie, but for attention to be paid to the more serious issues in their country.

In front of the entrance of the massive studio space in the industrial area of Dora, a suburb of North Beirut, where the photo shoots were taking place, there was one young man standing in the doorway. “I took a photo and now I’m security,” Gabriel Ferneini said. Though the co-founders have gotten mostly positive feedback from the campaign, they had gotten some indirect threats and were taking precautionary measures in case any extremists decided to come to the space where they were shooting those #strippingforchange.

Ferneini, on holiday from university in France where he is studying, said he decided to take a photo because, “It was a bit of activism and a bit of curiosity. I wanted to express what I felt because I am with the people doing and I believe what happened with Jackie is very wrong. All the biased standards in this country very wrong. I find it scandalous how a Sports Minister allow himself to say that while his country is in ruin and there is no opportunity for young kids who are passionate about sports…we have a lot of talent in this country who are not so fortunate [as Jackie],” Ferneini said.

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“I’m determined to come back, actually, my whole studies have been oriented toward learning how to make change in the country,” Gabriel Ferneini said.
Photo courtesy of the Facebook of “I Am Not Naked.”

“We shouldn’t shift our attention to a woman taking off her clothes for a professional photo-shoot, the attention should go to women getting beaten or murdered and men getting thrown in jail for some stupid tweet or the bombs going off,” Cynthia-Maria Aramouni, 24, said, the sole female co-founder of the campaign, and the woman pictured on the profile photo for the page. Aramouni noted that because of this campaign, people now knew who Manal Assi was. The nudity was an indirect way for them to get people to start paying attention to the real issues in Lebanon.

Cynthia-Maria Aramouni, 24, is the sole female of the group of co-founders of Lebanon's "I Am Naked" campaign.

Cynthia-Maria Aramouni, 24, is the sole female of the group of co-founders of Lebanon’s “I Am Naked” campaign.
Photo courtesy of the Facebook of “I Am Not Naked.”

The campaign is going international with the Lebanese diaspora as well, with photo shoots starting in Paris, Boston, London, Brussels, Montreal, Montpellier and Sao Paulo. Though the campaign welcomes all, including non-Lebanese, to join, this is generally a movement to bring the Lebanese together to draw the world’s attention away from Chamoun’s breasts and toward the problems that the country faces today: destabilization of the country, domestic violence, a lack of freedom of speech, among other things.

Though he was not happy about the video that was released, Chamoun’s father also lauded the unification of he people of Lebanon, telling the Associated Press, “The reaction of people was phenomenal. It’s the first time I see Lebanese people so united.”

On the photo set of Lebanon's "I Am Not Naked" campaign.

On the photo set of Lebanon’s “I Am Not Naked” campaign.

Despite some negative reactions, the co-founders have found the campaign to be largely supported and are determined to turn “I Am Not Naked” into a real movement. They are the Lebanese youth, committed to changing the society around them.

“I think it’s better if it evolves toward something more than Jackie,” Ferneini said, continuing, “because there’s so many things to talk about. It would be good to strip for something else. Strip for migrant workers’ rights, strip for poverty, strip for anything.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alesia permalink
    February 20, 2014 2:09 pm

    They would not want to see me naked! Lol

    >

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