The Weekly Nudesletter
Vol. 1, No. 14
September 4, 1998


Editor's Note

Article: Naturist Principles

Nudity in the News

Nudity in the Media

New and interesting Web pages

Editor's note

Yes, it's been over 2 months this time since the last edition of this "weekly" newsletter. I'm sorry about that, since I know many of you enjoy reading this news. But there's only so much time to go around. In addition to having to work for a living like most everyone else, and my other personal responsibilities, during the last couple of months I've put in a lot of time participating in and assisting with discussions on the NNN mailing list that was announced in the previous edition of this newsletter. If you want to see the results of that effort, just take a look at the link above and consider joining the list.

As always, I keep hoping to return to a more regular, perhaps even weekly, schedule for this newsletter. There's quite a backlog of news to report - much more than can be covered in one issue. So you may reasonably expect to see new issues more frequently simply to get through all the backlog.

One of the most interesting things I notice this time is the large amount (relatively speaking) of media attention to clothes-freedom topics, in addition to reporting on specfic news. Perhaps this is a trend that will have an important positive effect.

We may well ask why there has been so much relevant news of nudity and nakedness recently. It may be simply because summer (in the northern hemisphere) is the best season to be nude. Or it may be that these issues actually are becoming of interest to more people. In any case, we have a lot to think about in what has been happening....

Naturist Principles

Mainstream society has a very inadequate, mostly incorrect understanding of what "naturism" or "nudism" (pick either term) is really about. Many people who find they are attracted by the idea of enjoying life without clothes do also - to the point that they often wish to avoid the labels "naturist" or "nudist" as applied to themselves. Even if they readily admit they like not wearing clothes sometimes, either alone or in the company of others.

It also happens frequently that people have a particular preference to describe themselves as a "naturist" or a "nudist" - as long as you don't dare call them by the term other than the one they prefer. Further, different people tend to attach very different meanings to the terms. What some people think are characteristics of "nudists" but not "naturists", others will insist to be exactly the opposite.

We certainly can't settle all such problems here. Any "definition" we can hope to give will certainly encounter many who will disagree. Yet it's important for various reasons to be able to clarify these terms as much as possible. We need to be able to have some sort of definition just to have some idea of how many people the terms potentially apply to. We need to make the concepts as clear as possible so we can explain them to others. And we need, simply, to sort things out so we can go beyond fussing over definitions to get on with the real business of explaining what's good about nudity and why we like it.

Naturists and nudists are a very diverse group of people. Some prefer to enjoy nudity at beaches, some at clubs, and some just at home. Some prefer to enjoy nudity alone, some with a few close friends or family, and some with many others. Some people like to relate nudity to a variety other things, like nature, honesty, body acceptance, or pleasure. When you try to use such concepts to identify what "all" who enjoy nudity in some form or another have in common, you come up with very little as a "least common denominator".

It therefore seems that trying to define the group of people we're talking about and then trying to decide what they all believe in is putting the cart before the horse. It seems like it might be easier to specify the basic principles that are held by most people who might think of themselves as either "naturists" or "nudists". Anyhow, we think it's worthwhile to take a stab at it.

So, herewith, we offer for your consideration a list of basic principles we think that most people who enjoy non-sexual nudity can agree on. Your feedback is invited! The best way to offer it is to join and participate in our electonic mailing list: the NNN mailing list.

  1. Our bodies are the only true "homes" we really have. We have some limited ability to change the appearance and configuration of our "homes". But on the whole we should accept and respect our own bodies and those of others as they are and as they change as we go through life.
  2. It is an act of non-acceptance and disrespect towards our own bodies and the bodies of others to consider them in any way "shameful", "disgusting", or "offensive" as they are in their natural state when not covered by any clothing.
  3. There is no "harm" to a psychologically well-adjusted person of any age merely in either seeing others nude or being seen nude by others.
  4. Nudity does not inherently have a sexual meaning or purpose. Any sexual meaning or purpose associated with either clothing or nudity is an individual choice independent of these principles. But it is disrespectful to another to use mere nudity as an excuse or means to pursue a sexual purpose.
  5. It is reasonable to wear clothes in the company of others who do not share these principles, when necessary to show due respect for their feelings and opinions. But it is also proper to request others to respect one's own preferences regarding the wearing of clothes.
  6. Clothing is also useful at times for comfort, protection, or convenience. Any use of clothing beyond such utilitarian purposes, for any reason or no reason, remains the right and personal choice of any individual.
  7. There are a variety of benefits which attend the choice not to wear clothes, including greater comfort, relaxation, stress reduction, feelings of freedom, enhanced sensation of the natural environment, facilitated social interactions, and more openness with others. Every individual will experience and value these benefits somewhat differently.

Nudity in the News

Australian students protest fees with nudity
When you're an impoverished student facing the imposition of new fees at school, and you can barely afford the necessities of life to begin with, what's more natural than to just shuck your clothes and protest? That's what a dozen students at Melbourne's Victoran College of the Arts figured as a fitting way to express themselves at the opening of a new $5 million art gallery. And all the better if the opening is to be attended by the Premier of Victoria. Of course, this being an artistic event, nothing so crude as marching around with signs would do, so the troupe organized their protest into a piece of performance art entitled "I am my actions".

Venezuelan students protest fees with nudity
In a separate but oddly similar incident, about a dozen students in Caracas also protested higher fees in the nude. Evidently they were not as well received as their Australian counterparts, due to the more primitive attitudes towards nudity in Catholic Venezuela. The city's police chief, General Francisco Belisario, called the protest "an assault on public decency," and warned that nude protesters could face a month in jail. At least his reaction was not so extreme as that of his namesake, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian's General Belisarius, who in 532 CE put down the Nika riots by slaughtering 30,000 protesters. (We have no information as to how many of the latter were nude.)

Swedish teacher who lost job over nudity wins legal fight
In the rest of the world, Sweden has a liberal reputation in matters of nudity. So it was a little surprising back in 1994 when Irene Wachenfeldt lost her teaching job for stripping naked in front of an adult education class of unemployed women in order to make a point about body acceptance. "My body is good enough. I want you to feel the same about your bodies," she told her class. Her students appreciated the lesson and protested the unfortunate consequences. "It was one of our best lessons ... it helped boost our self confidence," one student was quoted as saying. Wachenfeldt, a mother of five, certainly did not lack self confidence herself and sued the authorities for unfair dismissal. A court in Karlstad recently awarded her almost $20,000 damages in compensation.

Nudity in Berkeley
On July 21 the Berkeley City Council, by a 5-4 vote, finally did what they have threatened for months: they changed violations of the city's anti-nudity law from misdemeanors to "infractions". Although an "infraction" is normally considered a less serious offense, it also rules out the possibliity of a trial by jury. Which is significant, since members of the X-plicit Players performance art group have never been convicted by a Berkeley jury for their frequent nude performances and parades, despite a dozen arrests. See the news story here, our previous report, and an earlier story.

Marty Kent and Debbie Moore of the Players are not the only folks who consider this action rather a travesty. An editorial in the Orange County Register, one of the most conservative newspapers in the state, not only called the City Council action an "outrage", but even termed the anti-nudity law itself "ill-considered".

So what happens next? Perhaps we will find out Sunday, September 20, at the 7th Annual Nude and Breast Freedom Parade. It starts at Noon in People's Park. Friends of clothes-freedom in the Bay Area might just want to plan to be there to see for themselves what this is all about.

Nudity in Boulder
Nudity, right now, seems to have more promising prospects in another college town not normally considered as radical as Berkeley - Boulder, Colorado. Though it isn't exactly non-controversial. It seems that sunbathers, of the au naturel sort, have been using a remote corner of Boulder Reservoir to get an all-over tan. But there have been complaints. As the writer of a pretty objective, non-judgmental article in the Boulder News puts it, "For some, the unclothed human body is a comfortable, natural state in some public venues. To others, public nudity is an inappropriate display of flesh that can be shocking, offensive and distracting."

Evidently to the surprise of some, simple nudity isn't illegal in Colorado or the city of Boulder. As the article explains, there are various necessary elements, such as "lewd" display or an intent to "affront or alarm" which simply aren't present in innocent sunbathing. (And far from being an unusual circumstance, this is actually true in most of the U. S.)

Festival of Naked Poets
Elsewhere in the world, nudity is appearing in new and (perhaps) unexpected venues. On August 20, BBC News reported on the opening of the first International Festival of Naked Poets at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts. There appears to be an international movement of poets to incorporate elements of nude performance art in their work.

Nude performance art is nothing new (consider Karen Finley or the X-plicit Players, for example). But it seems that poets, who until now have emphasized the verbal aspect of their art at poetry readings, want to add the visual element of nudity. And the way they talk about it they sound like, well, naturists.

According to the article, these poets find that "performing au naturel gives them a greater spiritual connection with the audience." Nudity helps them "strip away the restrictive layers of contemporary life." Female poet Emmanuelle Waeckerle notes that life is burdened with many pretenses, but "I am interested in nakedness to get rid of all those pretensions."

They're right, of course, even if they aren't exactly the first to discover these things. But perhaps their eloquence can reach audiences that never paid much attention to naturists.

Nudity in the Media

Allure: Get Naked
This seems to be the year that women's magazines are discovering social nudity, though it is a topic they've dealt with occasionally in the past. (See the article in Volume 1, No. 12 regarding Mademoiselle.) In their June issue Allure has a prominent article titled, in huge letters, "Get Naked".

As the subtitle ("It's a brave nude world, as more women are paying photographers to let them grin and bare it.") reveals, the article is more about posing nude than social nudity per se. It does early on make the observation (quoting photographer Marie-Claire Montanari) that "posing nude inevitably boosts any woman's self-esteem." But then much of the article is a catalog of celebrities, actors, photographers and others who've deliberately included nudity in their work. (Nothing really new about that.)

There follow some rambling attempts to analyze the phenomenon of ordinary people as well as celebrities moved to have images of themselves naked captured on film. Unimaginative stuff about vanity, taking an occasional wild fling, and the like. But the conclusion is good and worth remembering: "In a society where we're so often defined by our appearance - and the ways we alter it with clothes - it seems some people, at least, are finding that the ultimate in control is taking it all off."

Glamour: It's Naked Season
Yet another women's magazine article on nudity. Subtitle: "What have you done in the nude lately?" Note the blunt assumption that you have done something in the nude (besides the obvious). There seems to be a subtle change of tone from "It's not so weird to be naked," to "Of course you like to be naked."

In this brief article, a new book by Emily Jenkins ( Tongue First: Adventures in Physical Culture) is mentioned. The book deals with cultural trends to being more open and forward about how we present our physical selves - including nude beach visits. Also presented are the results of Glamour's survey that asked what people like to do nude. Astonishingly, the claims is that 74% of women polled have swum nude, 66% have hung around the house naked, 46% have visited a nude beach, and 41% have done housework naked. One wonders a little about these results, since only 34% admit ever having sunbathed naked. (Do they go swimming only by moonlight?) But still...

It's very nude-positive. According to author Jenkins, "You can never feel dumpy when you're naked."

USA Weekend: Nude tourism takes off
(Nyuk, nyuk) Oh, yes - the subtitle is "Traveling light". Nevertheless, it's a positive article, which appeared July 3. "Nude cruises, resorts and other recreation-related sales account for more than $250 million a year, say industry insiders." USA Weekend is a sister publication to USA Today. Online version. Going Natural
Dated August 10, this online feature about naturist travel begins, "Traveling light?", and the page is titled "Nudist Vacations Take Off". Hmmm, where have we heard those lines used before? Why does it seem, sometimes, that mainstream articles on naturism keep recycling the same mindless puns? Never mind. The article itself is sensible and positive, as well as rather more detailed than the very brief USA Weekend piece. (Which, however, seems to have been the inspiration, as they also share the same list of "favorite activities" of nudists and a silly remark about fishing hooks.) Mention is made of the AANR's annual convention at Hidden Valley Resort in Georgia, Palm Spring's Desert Shadows Inn, Cedar Creek Nudist Park's Nudestock festival, and nude cruises. On the whole, quite a good article. Online version. Also here

CNN Interactive: Best Beaches
Not to be outdone in the rush to welcome nude recreation into mainstream travel opportunities, CNN included several well-known nude beaches in their August listing of "best beaches". They even had their own category: "bare-it-all beaches". The winners: Orient Beach on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, Bonny Doon Beach in Santa Cruz, California, and Haulover Beach in Miami, Florida. CNN didn't actually make the picks themselves. They asked Judi Ditzler of The Naturist Society, who was (undoubtedly) happy to oblige. She observes that a beach vacation spent in the buff is not an off-putting idea at all, but rather an "essential part of life." Online version.

CNN Interactive: Nude Cruise Poll
Clearly, there's a little buzz in the media about nude travel opportunities. Cruises are something that most people can understand and relate to. For many people, probably, a nude cruise would be one of the better ways to experiment with clothes-free leisure time - since there's a small likelihood of meeting people you know while far from home. Evidently this inspired the folks at CNN to offer this question in their weekly poll for August 17: "Would you take a nude cruise if your partner said it was his/her dream vacation?"

The result: 55% responded "absolutely"! Only 30% said "never". Online version.

Advocate Weekly Newspapers: Living Au Naturel: A Nudist's Memoir
"For as long as my family has summered at the beach at Fire Island, we would waken every morning at around 6, even in sloppy weather, and walk the beach until we're well past the last house. Then, shedding our clothes in the sand above the high tide line, we'd plunge into the ocean. After a little nude beach combing to let the air and the sun dry us, we'd don our clothes again and walk back to the house for breakfast and a shot of whiskey." Thus begins Lorraine Gengo's tribute/interview to her great-aunt Alice Thorpe, aged 97 this summer, and a nudist who has enjoyed Fire Island since the early 1930s.

Although disparaging of terms like "nudism" and "naturism", both the author and her great-aunt seem to agree that "It's just nice to swim without your clothing and it's nice not to be bothered in heat with clothes that you don't need." There's a bit of a condescending attitude towards today's naturists, but perhaps that's just the way you feel towards people who have only recently discovered a great secret you've known most of your life. On the whole, it's a charming article. Online version.

Salon Magazine: Nude Beach of the Week
As a summer feature, the upscale e-zine Salon asked readers (on June 26) to tell about their favorite nude beaches anywhere in the world. The replies made fascinating reading for four weeks in a row. If you're looking for world-class places to be naked and are willing to travel, don't miss any of these reports.

The first installment on July 3 featured Maui's Little Makena beach and Munich's Englischer Garten. Little Makena is praised as the "closest place to heaven on earth" that the respondent has ever seen. But the Munich story, written by a young woman describing her first experience with public nudity ("For pure unmitigated Teutonic nudeness, there's nothing like the scenery in the Englischer Garden in the heart of Munich.") is better.

On July 10 there were reports on four beaches: Apollo in Florida (from long-time naturist Tom Pitton), Lucy Vincent on Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts), Bonny Doon in California, and the Greek island of Santorini in the Aegean. Again, nude beach stories told from a woman's point of view emphasize the light-hearted side of naturism.

The stories went decidedly international on July 17 with reports from Praslin Island, Seychelles, Balding Bay Beach on Magnetic Island, Australia, and Hawksbill Beach, Antigua. Based on these reports, a trip to the Seychelles is definitely in order.

The series concluded on July 24 with a look at Red Beach on Crete, Crystal Crescent Beach in Nova Scotia, and Haulover Beach in Miami. Haulover, of course, is one of the best-known and best-accepted nude beaches in the U. S., while the other two are much smaller and almost unknown treasures.

Columbus Dispatch: Nude Wedding
Nudism flourishes in the U. S. midwest - but it's a well-kept secret the local media seem to take little note of. And when they do, they have to struggle a bit to get the story right without tripping over themselves in the pursuit of more bad puns. We need to consider it a minor cause for celebration when they get the facts mostly right without being terminally droll.

This light-hearted account of a July wedding at the Cedar Trails Nudist Retreat in Ohio is a fine example. The writer hits the right notes from the start: "Being nude is being natural," the naked minister reminds the (mostly) naked wedding party and guests. The groom had been a nudist for five years, but his bride for only eight weeks. And we must have even more admiration for the bride's sister, who (we surmise) adapted graciously to the role of naked maid of honor.

If only everyone were so accommodating...

Washington Post: The Naked and the Web
Published August 6. Starts our promisingly: "If ever there was an argument for nakedness, it's August." It goes on to a quick tour of selected naturist Web sites, such as Cybernude, sites belonging to the Trade Association for Nude Recreation, the Commonwealth of Virginia Naturists, the Buff-A-Teers (Tucson, AZ), and several Christian naturist sites. But the author's conclusion is weak, unsupported, and fatuous. Online version.

New and Interesting Web pages

Slashdot Poll: My Work Attire Is...
What do you wear when you telecommute? As if one should have to ask, right? Well, Slashdot, an e-zine for Linux hackers, is asking. And the results so far are that 8% describe their work attire as "naked"! That's from over 7300 respondents to date. And there's still time to vote, so visit this page immediately to see the results and cast your own vote. ("Naked" too, we hope.) You can also submit a comment on the topic and others' comments. Let 'em know exactly how you feel about clothes!

Legal Symposium on Non-sexual Nudity
This looks like it will be a very important conference on the legal status of public nudity in the U. S. - and especially about it's future. If you're interested at all in this (and you should be), then visit the page for the details. It's short. The symposium will be held October 9-11 in Miami (very near Haulover Beach). Even if you can't attend (and how many of us can, unless we deal with this sort of thing often?), it's very important to get an idea of the issues involved here. The page offers a concise summary of the concerns, a list of the speakers, and the program schedule.

Check here for another announcement of the symposium that explains the purpose in some detail.

The symposium is sponsored by the Naturist Education Foundation and South Florida Free Beaches.

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