Event Organiser, Elizabeth Charleston strips down for The Naked Challenge

Event Organiser, Elizabeth Charleston strips down for The Naked Challenge

If you’ve been seeing a bunch of horse riders and sportspeople ‘getting naked’ over social media this month, it can only mean one thing- The Naked Challenge. Yvette Morrissey had a chat to Elizabeth Charleston, Naked Challenge organiser and brain injury ambassador, about how she came up with the idea for the Naked Challenge, what famous riders have stripped down, and how you can participate.

What is the Naked Challenge?
The Naked Challenge is all about brain injury awareness. I realise its a bit drastic to encourage people all around the world to get naked but it certainly worked last year. The Naked Challenge is a month long online event running 1-31 August 2016.

Is it an annual event?
I first introduced The Naked Challenge in August, last year. Nikki Subritzky from Christchurch was a huge help with adding the graphics to a lot of the photos sent in by people and her enthusiasm for The Naked Challenge was bubbling to the surface again in recent months so we decided to roll it out again this year. It may very well end up an annual thing. As long as there are people willing to ‘get naked’ and have some fun doing their photos there is a platform for it to continue.
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How did you come up with the idea for the Naked Challenge?
I have supported the USA based campaign Riders4Helmets in the past and each year I would send in a photo of me with a horse whilst wearing a helmet. In July 2014, I was due to do my annual photo but having just moved to Gisborne to live I didn’t have a horse on hand so I realised I needed to think outside the box. That’s when I got the idea for The Naked Challenge. The concept of The Naked Challenge kept chipping away in my thoughts so I decided I needed to put on my big girl panties and bite the bullet. I grabbed a black canvas, pulled down the straps of my top and I got my boyfriend Fraser to take some photos of me wearing my riding helmet in the kitchen. If you look closely at the original photo I think you can see the straps of my top poking out the side of the canvas!
You’ve been busy taking photos yourself- where did you go and what did you do?
A few of my own photos for The Naked Challenge were done during the school holidays. I ran around Gisborne with my photographer one morning to get the shots I wanted. I nearly froze my butt off for the photo of me standing in the waves at the beach with my ski helmet and my gumboots! There was a bit of dodging and ducking when we did the photo at the Warehouse and I got a couple of toots from cars when I stood beneath the ‘Gisborne’ road signs on the outskirts of town. But it was all a lot of fun which is the main thing! One thing that made my heart warm last year was the amount of people who said that they had such a fun time doing their ‘naked’ photos and that there was lots of laughs. Living with a brain injury you tend to laugh a lot less because it is one of the most awful injuries a person can suffer –  for both the person with the brain injury and those that are left to care for them.
Who are some of the well-known riders that have taken part?
There were riders from the various codes in various countries that took part in The Naked Challenge; off the top of my head there was one New Zealand photo that made me very happy and that was of Tinks Pottinger and Catriona Williams. There were plenty of famous faces that took part in The Naked Challenge last year from world renowned supermodels, to TV and sporting personalities. We ended up with a huge range of people from around the world taking part in The Naked Challenge.

Tinks Pottinger and Catriona Williams take part in The Naked Challenge 2015

Is there a charity you are fundraising for, or is this purely an awareness campaign?
The Naked Challenge is purely an awareness campaign for concussion and brain injury and is not affiliated to a particular charity. I read somewhere online last year that a person claimed The Naked Challenge was just a promotional gimmick for a line of clothing. What clothing I ask you!
In the future it could open up to being a fundraising activity but with The Naked Challenge being an international event it’s hard to pin point what the charity would be or how best to place the money raised. So for now it is an awareness exercise.

Why do you encourage people to take part in the Challenge?
I would love for people to take part in The Naked Challenge because then every person becomes a brain injury awareness campaigner in their own right. Each person is potentially saving the lives of their friends and loved ones by taking part in the challenge as it will hopefully get people talking about the issue of concussion, compounded concussion and brain injury. Not only do I want people to take part in The Naked Challenge, but I would love for them to get in touch with their local newspaper or blog about why they have taken part. For some people the issue of brain injury is very close to their heart as they may have suffered a brain injury or perhaps someone close to them has.
It's not only horse riders taking part- all sportspeople are invited to take part

It’s not only horse riders taking part- all sportspeople are invited to take part

How can people take part in the Naked Challenge?
‘Get naked!’ is one of our catch phrases. So that’s a step in the right direction! I want to see funny and hopefully tasteful photos being posted to social networks with the graphics that read “I would rather go naked than not wear a helmet.” Also add your name, where you live and if you like what your role is (sport or profession). You may as well throw in the hashtag of #TheNakedChallenge for good measure.  I love seeing the names of the various countries where The Naked Challenge has ended up. If you’re not a computer whizz you can hold up a sign with the info we would like to see, or, you can email TheNakedChallenge2016@gmail.com so that Nikki can add the graphics to the photo and we will post it on the Naked Challenge Facebook page.

Are there any rules for taking part?
The Naked Challenge is as R18 event. Because the photo will end up on social media a person needs to be clever with their posing – and props are encouraged to hide a persons private areas. We don’t want to see everything that goes in your bra or what men keep in their underwear.

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