Reading has always been an escape for Keely Schneider.
For the last four years, she has been sharing her love of books with others by reading aloud on stage.
“You can read a book to yourself but if you share that with other people… it gives it a different experience,” said Keely on Sunday.
While some may find reading aloud for others is intimidating, Schneider also does it in the nude.
Naked Girls Reading is a worldwide group that empowers women who want to share their stories.
Schneider started the Calgary chapter of NGR in 2016 and said it’s a political statement aimed at reclaiming nudity.
“Nudity in the world has been taken away from us,” Schneider said. “It’s been used as a form of oppression and a sexuality thing.”
“This was a form of us taking back our power with our bodies and choosing to be naked,” said Schneider. “The rest of the time, our nudity is sexualized or prohibited.”
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The program has also helped Schneider with a decade-long battle with bulimia.
“Seeing a variety of bodies on this stage that are uncensored and just being free to be themselves is so inspiring,” said Schneider. “It really did make me love myself and to stop myself from doing those unhealthy habits.”
Naked reading comes with its challenges, like people who do not respect the rules of not commenting on and not touching the readers.
“We’ve had to kick out a couple of people in the past but… it doesn’t happen as often as you think,” said Schneider. “Most people who come are more surprised by the nudity and very few people are here to exploit anybody or to be inappropriate.”
Schneider said the majority end up coming back to the monthly readings.
“It’s almost like a bait and switch,” said Schneider. “The nudity can be something that draws people in, and then you realize [you’re] not actually here for the nudity, [you’re] here for the books.”
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