Book review: Au Naturel

This is an (almost) incredibly good history of naturism in France, from its cautious beginnings in the later 1920s up to the incipience of its present state in the 1970s – a 50-year span. What makes it so excellent is that the author must have found and examined literally thousands of contemporary documents – news articles, public records, naturist magazines, etc. Today, France is probably the country with the most vital and flourishing naturist culture in the world. In part, this is due to the favorable climate of southern France on and near the Mediterranean coast, as well as a still decent climate (for Europe) on the Atlantic coast west of Bordeaux. But it’s also due to the prior existence, for roughly 25 years, of naturism in Germany. In spite of the conflict between France and Germany in WW I, many of the earliest naturists in France were visitors from Germany. Given Germany’s less agreeable climate for outdoor nudity, German nudists’ interest in French locales is less surprising.
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How to get started in naturism if you’re under 30, part 3: Naked and afraid?

Let’s face it. There are many excellent reasons for socializing naked. (A much briefer list is here.) Yet most people don’t actually know any naturists, or at least aren’t aware that anyone they know is a naturist. As a result, most people are likely to have some – or many – misconceptions about what naturism really is. So there’s a real chance that misunderstandings about naturism could cause you to miss out on something great.

This is a vicious circle. Naturists are too often secretive about their enjoyment of nudity, because others may judge them unfairly. So it’s difficult to dispel the erroneous beliefs about naturism, because naturists are afraid to reveal their interest in it. Consequently, the misconceptions fail to be corrected. It would help a lot if naturists would be more open about their enjoyment of nudity. Young naturists, especially, should become more comfortable discussing naturism with their peers.
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Get more out of naturism – try something new!

Probably most readers will agree that naturism is already pretty darn good. But are there ways to enjoy it even more? Sure, of course there are. Just use a little imagination. Yes, “Variety is the spice of life” is a well-worn cliché. But it’s true. Read on to think about new things to try out by yourself or (especially) with naturist friends.

Here are some reasons you might want to try new things in the way you enjoy naturism:

  • You might be getting a little tired of the “same old, same old”
  • You can meet new and interesting people
  • You’ll learn about new naturist experiences from others
  • You’ll discover new activities for enjoying naturist nudity you’d never thought of

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Recent articles on nudity and naturism, December 1-15, 2020

  1. We Hosted Our Own Naked Party: Here’s What Happened

    Most people understand the idea of “do it yourself”. Whenever you need something done, there are basically two options: pay someone else to do it, or… do it yourself. Your car needs some repairs, you need to update a room in your house to meet your needs, you need to prepare food for a party for 20 people, your child needs extra help in school with math, you’d like to start a vegetable garden to grow some of your own food… Or whatever. Each of these tasks requires at least certain minimal skills or experience – which you may not currently have.

    But there are problems with hiring someone else to take on such things. You’ll have to pay them. They won’t do the job to your satisfaction or not do quite what you had in mind. You might not even be able to find someone suitable for doing the work.

    Naturists encounter this dilemma – a lot. Naturist resorts you’d like to visit in order to socialize with other naturists are either too far away, have limited facilities, are in a dilapidated state, or don’t attract the sort of people you’d like to meet. Non-landed clubs you might consider joining are poorly run, have only boring activities, or seldom have many activities at all.

    What’s the solution? Do it yourself! In this case, you can hold your own parties and events for naturists you know or others you know who might like to learn about naturism from people they trust (i. e., you). The article here gives good advice about how to do it. Almost no special skills are usually required. And not much experience either. If you’ve been a naturist for a least a little while, you probably have all of the necessary experience, because you know what naturists expect and enjoy. As for skills, go with what you already have. Probably some ability at food planning and preparation. Some knowledge of activities other naturists would enjoy. And enough social skills to ensure people have a good time.

    You don’t need to depend on “organized” naturism to provide what you want. You can do it yourself. And here’s an earlier post about naturist parties: What individual naturists could do to promote naturism – and why

  2. Free Beaches Make Dollars and Sense

    Here’s a very slickly-produced short (about 5½ min.) video that clearly explains why states and communities adjacent to good beaches – and their local businesses – can experience significant extra income from the establishment of clothing-optional sections of the beaches.

    This video is from the Tampa Bay Free Beaches organization. They’re working to have a legal clothing-optional beach on the west coast of Florida. Florida’s east coast already has four such beaches, including the very popular Haulover Beach near Miami. (That link is from a tourist site, and here’s another from the same organization on clothing-optional beaches in Florida.) Yet the west coast doesn’t have any legal clothing-optional beaches, even though there are many naturist parks and resorts near Tampa (mainly in Pasco County).

    But such naturist places can’t have the economic impact of a clothing-optional beach. There are several reasons for this. One is that many of these places have large populations of full-time (naturist) residents. But these residents don’t contribute more to the local economy than any other local residents. Tourists, on the other hand, mostly aren’t naturists, but they do visit clothing-optional beaches and spend lots of money in the area. Most importantly, they vastly outnumber local naturists.

    Many people don’t care to live in Florida full-time, for various reasons. Yet Florida is a very popular tourist destination for many reasons, including a warm climate and numerous tourist attractions and theme parks. Visitors to any of these attractions may also be interested in clothing-optional beaches, which are quite scarce in other parts of the country. Many visitors also arrive not only from the U. S. itself but from all over the world – including countries where naturism is popular.

    It’s not necessary to say more about the economic importance of clothing-optional beaches here, as this post goes into considerable detail on the subject. And here’s a post from November 2020 with similar information on the newest clothing-optional beach on Florida’s east coast: Blind Creek Beach, near Fort Pierce. Diligent work of the Treasure Coast Naturists group made it possible.

  3. Woman posing naked outside museum wins ‘Best Bum 2020’ contest after Cambridge uni students bared all


    Obviously, this article is just clickbait for the tabloid’s site. But it does illustrate a fairly recent and interesting trend. Namely, fully naked butts are no longer considered “obscene” or unfit for “decent” people to see (although they’re probably NSFW). Facebook and its ilk agree, despite rabid hostility to frontal nudity. Not so long ago, a person’s butt crack in pictures like this would be heavily blurred, pixellated, or strategically covered by an emoticon or black bar.

    There’s more to this story than simply how it’s presented in certain British media. It shows that, at least in England, college students are willing to pose naked for amusing and playful – yet tasteful – photos. Nothing basically wrong with that.

  4. Pro surfer who has tackled some of the world’s largest waves goes on a NUDE surfing trip


    This story in a different British tabloid doesn’t make fun of nudity, yet some of the language it uses (“intimate”, “completely naked”, “bold display”, “incredible”) makes quite clear the tabloid’s attitude towards nudity. Clearly, too, the story is aimed at lower-class Brits in the way it (sometimes, not consistently) uses black bars to obscure what that type of person considers “naughty” to depict.

    However, the photos themselves (from a “three year audio-visual project”) are quite tasteful and striking. There’s also a short (and heavily censored) clip from a 4-minute short documentary called “Skin Deep”. The pro surfer and artist (Felicity Palmateer) wanted to combine “her passions of art and surfing in a bold display of self expression” Oddly, however, although the documentary was very artistic and aimed to show “self expression” it was felt necessary that “The filming sessions for Skin Deep had to be carefully curated so that Ms Palmateer could comfortably surf while in secrecy”. It’s sad that such beautiful imagery was treated as if it were simply porn.

  5. Growing interest in naturism since first lockdown

    Here’s an interesting story about naturism in a local Irish newspaper. Several points stand out. The first, and perhaps the most important, is that the report takes naturism seriously. That contrasts markedly with how naturism is treated in the U. S. (or even in British tabloids). There’s no intimation that there’s anything weird, peculiar, or abnormal about someone who enjoys being naked (in suitable circumstances). Second, the person who was interviewed (Michael) emphasizes that when someone has become used to being naked, it feels entirely normal and unremarkable not to wear anything as long as nobody objects – and more comfortable than wearing clothes. Third, naturism is becoming more popular and acceptable in Ireland, in contrast with the fairly recent past.

How to get started in naturism if you’re under 30, part 2: the good things about naturism

Summary: Here’s why you should get into naturism as early as possible and not delay until you’re older.

It seems reasonable to assume that most people who read this blog regularly, or even only occasionally, have at least some interest in naturism or curiosity about it. But there are at least two types of readers. Some have more than occasionally enjoyed nudity at home or participated in social nudity. But others have little or no actual experience with either home or social nudity.

This series of posts may be of interest to people of both types. Those in the first category probably want to learn how to persuade others – such as friends or family members – to join them in naturist activities. Or else they’re enthusiastic naturists wanting to promote naturism to anyone who’s open-minded. On the other hand, people in the second category are still uncertain about whether they would actually enjoy naturism or whether it might be risky to participate in it.

In either case, it makes good sense to be clear about what the benefits of naturism are. Having a clear idea about these benefits is important whether the objective is to persuade others to try naturism or else to persuade oneself about that.
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How to get started in naturism if you’re under 30, part 1: the naturist landscape

This is the first post in a series about how and why young adults should become seriously interested in naturism. In this post we’ll cover some of the reasons why the best time to get involved in naturism is before you reach the age of 30. But in the interest of full disclosure, we’ll also cover some of the problems of becoming involved. It’s important to be prepared for the problems so you don’t become discouraged if you encounter them. In the following posts we’ll cover the reasons you should explore naturism and how to successfully become involved.
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Are social media helpful for promoting naturism?

Some naturists have tried to use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, et al) to present to the general public their positive feelings about nudity in order to improve public attitudes towards their lifestyle. But how effective has the attempt been, and how effective is it likely to be? I’m inclined to think the answer is: not very much.

There are obvious reasons why using social media is unlikely to be very helpful for changing the attitudes of non-naturists, at least in the foreseeable future. Here are some of those reasons:
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Are you a naked person?

By “naked person” I mean, specifically, someone who often or almost always prefers to wear nothing – or as close to nothing as possible – that covers any part of their body. That term generally includes many nudists and naturists. It also includes people who live mostly without clothing because that’s the norm in the culture or society they belong to – although presently that’s quite a small number. But it doesn’t include people like exhibitionists who use nudity only for sexual gratification or to shock others.

Of course, the main concern here is with nudists and naturists who live in societies or cultures where nudity is far from the norm. In other words, under social conditions where nudity is acceptable or at least tolerated only in limited circumstances, such as in private homes or a few places where nudity is socially and legally permissible.

The point I want to make about being a “naked person” is that it should be considered a conscious affirmation of personal identity. That is to say, a state of being of significant and substantial worth in itself, and one that merits the respect of others. The deliberate choice to wear no clothing should be no different from any other clothing choice. So naked persons rightly feel that their choice to be naked is just as valid and deserving of respect as any other clothing choice. And that’s because their choice strongly reflects their personal identity.

Although most people in U. S. society – as well as the societies of many European countries – don’t wear types of clothing required by certain religious or cultural traditions, those latter choices are accepted. And that’s because it’s recognized that such choices strongly reflect the personal identities of those who make them. Someone who is, for example, Amish, Muslim, or Orthodox Jewish wears clothing that accords with their religion, because that has deep meaning for who they are. And even though choosing to wear no clothing is very seldom for religious reasons – except for modern pagans – it has every bit as much meaning for someone who self-identifies as a naked person.

Of course, many – probably most – people use additional visible means besides clothing to express personal identity. Women, and sometimes men, have long used makeup for this purpose. Hairstyles, including facial hair for men, are certainly in this category too. Tattoos have now become very popular for this purpose. The same is true for body jewelry (even though it may be visible only in the absence of clothing).

It’s true that many nudists and naturists don’t think of their enjoyment of nudity in terms of personal identity. They like being naked simply because it “feels so good” or it’s “much more comfortable” than wearing clothes. They don’t consciously think they’re “making a statement” by being naked. And that’s fine.

Yet the truth is that wearing nothing actually does convey a person’s identity, whether intentionally or not. The verb “convey” means passing some sort of information from one person to others. This is just as much the case as with the choices people make in what they wear at work (whether it’s a business suit or jeans and T-shirt), on social occasions, or in any other situation where other people are present.

Nudity qualifies as part of the identity of someone who openly expresses pleasure in being naked. So choosing to be naked reflects that identity and signals it to anyone who observes them.

What are naturists’ thoughts and feelings when they’re naked?

Let’s first consider the thoughts and feelings non-naturists have when they’re naked around others. The list would include sexuality, self-consciousness, embarrassment, body dysmorphia, shame, guilt, anxiety, fear, insecurity, and vulnerability. Most non-naturists won’t experience each of these things when naked, at least not at the same time. But they’re very likely to experience some of them.

The contrast with the thoughts and feelings of naturists when they’re naked could hardly be larger. That list would include freedom, openness, self-confidence, exhilaration, euphoria, and self-actualization. Again, most naturists won’t usually experience all these things at the same time. Indeed, a large part of the time many naturists will hardly even be thinking about the fact they’re naked. Yet the positive emotions will still be there and contribute to a distinct feeling of happiness, contentment, and well-being.

Of course, non-naturists do have many opportunities to experience these positive emotions. But all the same opportunities are also available to naturists if they’re willing to accept the inconvenience of wearing clothes when nudity isn’t possible. Fortunately, there are many places where nudity is possible – in a naturist’s own home and the homes of other naturists, as well as the homes of open-minded friends and relatives. And also in naturist resorts, naturist-friendly B&Bs, clothing-optional beaches, and many locations in the natural world.

In short, naturists can enjoy all the positive experiences available to non-naturists. But they are also able to enjoy positive experiences that are either significantly enhanced or only possible by being naked.

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, November 16-30, 2020

  1. Patrick: The Movie

    Patrick received 4 stars (out of 5) in the Guardian review. It has 87% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. But can you find it on IMDB? No. Is there a DVD of it on Amazon (which owns IMDB)? No. So what’s the problem? Apparently it must be the dreaded nudity. Indeed, that includes full-frontal male nudity. (See the first review listed below.)

    After all, the setting is a rustic naturist park, where many of the people are naked. Horror of horrors. At least Wikipedia deigned to allow a (very) brief page for it – which mainly just lists the many accolades the movie has received.

    A few films, such as Educating Julie and Act Naturally, that feature nudist park scenes have been made in recent decades. (Both are listed at IMDB.) But they don’t have the heft or mainstream critical approval that Patrick has. Unlike those other films, in Patrick the nudist park setting isn’t central to the plot, and the nudity is treated quite nonchalantly – as it should be. Check out the reviews below for more information. Unfortunately, I don’t know how you can actually see the movie for yourself.

  2. Controversy surrounds new sculpture of Mary Wollstonecraft, asking is nudity necessary?


    You really have to ask yourself what’s wrong with people who wonder whether nudity in a serious work of art is “necessary” – let alone as something a person might choose to enjoy in everyday life. Isn’t it enough that the artist – or person who enjoys nudity – has reason to feel that nudity enhances their art – or their lifestyle?

    In this case, Mary Wollstonecraft isn’t nearly as well known to the general public as her daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – who’s famous as the author of Frankenstein and the spouse of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

    Yet Ms. Wollstonecraft certainly deserves to be much better known. According to Wikipedia, she “was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.” Indeed, today she “is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and her works as important influences.”

    So what could explain why the sculptor, Maggi Hambling, opted for nudity in the Wollstonecraft memorial? Why should that be considered controversial or even disrespectful? Was it either controversial or disrespectful that Michelangelo chose to portray David nude? How about how Rodin chose to portray his Thinker? It’s quite likely there were very good reasons in both cases. So why should there be any difference for Hambling’s choice? Simply because Wollstonecraft was a woman?

    I certainly don’t think there should be any difference, but I can only speculate about Hambling’s intentions. This appraisal of the statue posits that the figure isn’t a representation of Wollstonecraft herself but instead of Everywoman. Could it be that portraying the figure nude was meant to be a sign of empowerment? That unselfconscious nudity indicates strength, self-confidence, and equality with strong males?

  3. Getting naked for charity


    British Naturism has a history of charitable support for the British Heart Foundation. (See here.) The choice of a health-related charity isn’t random, since a clothes-free lifestyle is felt to confer health and well-being benefits. The connection, in part, is a result of stress reduction and enhanced closeness to nature. Simply taking time off from everyday obligations to enjoy nudity is a big factor. Holding such events at carefully curated gardens is also relevant. On the other side of the planet, in New Zealand, another naturist group held a fundraiser for a local hospital – and a member cited “stripping down the stress” as an important feature.

    Non-naturist organizations of various kinds have also used (limited) nudity as a way to get attention in addition to supporting worthwhile charities. Noteworthy examples include diverse sporting teams – often connected with an educational institution – that have also taken this route by selling calendars with coyly posed nudity. Recent examples include veterinary students at two Australian schools, as reported here. However, this sort of thing has at times been done somewhat clumsily, as noted in one example reported in an item below.

    It’s rather unfortunate that U. S. naturist organizations have taken so little advantage of charity support for gaining attention and improving their image – as well as helping out deserving charities.



  4. Being naked and improved body acceptance go together


    An aspect of the connection between nudity and health is how body acceptance is involved. Naturists understand that being comfortable naked requires acceptance of one’s body the way it is. Increasing body acceptance leads to more time spent naked, and that in turn leads to enjoying more of the health benefits of nudity, such as those due to stress reduction and better sleep.

    However, this relationship is complicated. Physical fitness is also important for good health. Steps taken to improve fitness, such as healthy eating and adequate exercise not only improve health, but also help improve body acceptance. There’s a positive feedback loop in the relationship among body acceptance, nudity, health, and fitness. Each of these things tends to reinforce the others. The healthier you are, the more you’re likely to enjoy being naked – and vice versa. This relationship was explicitly recognized by the earliest modern naturists over 100 years ago. Plenty of exercise and a healthy lifestyle were strongly emphasized.

    • How to be more comfortable in your own skin
      “Taking charge of your own negative thoughts can be one of the toughest things to do when you don’t feel confident in your own skin. … You often critique yourself and feel shy around others, rather than embracing yourself for who you are as an individual! … It’s important to love yourself and appreciate you for you! That’s why we’ve gathered some tips on how to be more comfortable in your own skin, naked or not.”

    • Naked body image and self esteem
      This report is based on research by Keon West of the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London. The research has previously been described here and here.

      “For people predisposed to take part in non-sexual nude activities body image, self-esteem, and life-satisfaction are improved by such participation. Now, research … suggests that for people who may not be predisposed to such activities, a nudity-based intervention may nevertheless lead to positive improvements in body image.”

      This is another article on the same topic: Nudism: how it can actually boost positive body image

  5. Everything You Wanted To Know About Being A Naturist But Were Afraid To Ask


    You don’t really need a whole book to explain how to be a naturist. The first and most important step is simply to start spending time naked – alone, or with others if possible. But of course you’ll have some important questions on your mind too. This concise article at a website about travel deals with some of the most common questions. It’s especially intended for people in the U. S., where naturism is more controversial and less well accepted than in many European countries.

    Since the website is dedicated to travel and vacations, not surprisingly it suggests the first steps into naturism outside the home may well involve travel or vacationing. There’s much good advice here. But the key thing to keep in mind is simply to be naked when doing what you especially enjoy. It doesn’t matter much whether that’s sports, exercise, cruising, camping, hiking, or going to the beach. Here’s the mantra: “Whatever You Enjoy Doing, Doing It Nude Makes It So Much Better”. Well, maybe not shopping or going out for dinner, but you get the idea.

    Given the site’s dedication to travel and vacation, you should take a look at their page of related naturist information.

  6. No Tan Lines Here, Clothing-Optional Parks See Uptick


    To continue on the topic of travel and vacations, here’s an article from a mainstream magazine for people who visit or manage private campgrounds – especially for RV camping. It points out that naturist parks usually welcome RVers and are well-equipped for them. Most naturists with RVs already know this, so the article is actually inviting people who’ve never been involved with naturism to give it a try.

    While most RVers looking for naked camping probably are already naturists, non-naturist RVers represent a promising group whose members might seriously consider the clothesfree option.

    From the article: “To dress or not to dress? Probably not a question RVers ask each other too often. And probably not something which crosses the minds of those in the campground business. But believe it or not, there are a growing number of RVers who choose not to dress when they are camping, preferring to recreate at campgrounds in the buff.”

  7. Nothing new about using nudity in politics and protest

    As an article in a Toronto newspaper – written by Stéphane Deschênes, owner of the Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park – points out, “Nudity has long been a tactic used to generate attention, in both politics and protest. One of the most famous incidents, Lady Godiva’s nude protest on horseback, is over 1,000 years old. Here in Canada, in the early 20th century, the Doukhobors protested religious persecution and demonstrated their humbleness by marching nude — men, women, and children.”

    A number of other examples are cited, including PETA‘s antifur campaign, World Naked Bike Rides, last year’s Portland, Oregon Black Lives Matter protest, and FEMEN demonstrations in support of feminist issues.

    Stéphane observes that “nudity will retain its ability to shock and bring attention to political and social issues.” And further, “While using nudity to expose injustice or promote a cause may seem cheap or exploitative to some, there’s no doubt that when one believes it’s worth it to be bare down to their toes in service of creating change, it’s bound to make headlines.”

    Naked political and social protests have been discussed several times previously – most recently here.

  8. I earn £45 an hour to clean people’s houses in the nude


    Naked house cleaning hasn’t received much attention recently, but evidently it continues to be popular in the UK. This article by “Brandy” gives a first-hand account of what it’s like to work naked doing house cleaning for strangers (or regular customers). She had grown tired of her previous job, at the age of 38, and was looking for something different and more interesting. Brandy says she really wanted to work in professional gardening, but needed income while learning the ropes of gardening.

    She reports that most of her clients are male, and have always been respectful: “I have to say that I’ve never had to clean for anyone yet who has made me feel creepy. They’ve always treated me with absolute respect.” Her feelings about the work are very positive: “It’s definitely an unusual job, and I won’t do it forever – I still plan to be a gardener – but it’s got me out of a dark period, and it’s been liberating. I’ve got to tell you, I love it.”

    With the pay being £45 (currently about US$62) per hour, it surely has a great advantage over waiting tables or driving for Uber. For anyone who enjoys nudity there’s the exquisite pleasure of working naked. And it’s certainly a much more socially acceptable job than working in a strip club.



  9. Cambridge University students strip down for racy calendar with nothing but athletics equipment to protect their modesty to raise money for medical charity

    This is another example of university athletes supporting a charity by producing for sale a calendar featuring (partial) nudity. Unfortunately, this particular instance is a rather embarrassing flop. Even if you have a very positive attitude towards nudity, this isn’t something you’d be proud to have on your wall. Although it’s probably been sold out for some time now, a better option is still available: making your charitable contributions directly to the beneficiaries.

    Here are the negatives of this one:

    1. Supposedly because of the need for social distancing, the athlete models were photographed separately and photoshopped (very poorly) onto the background. Very fakey.
    2. The idea of college jocks showing off their (not quite) naked bods for “charity” is no longer fresh and original. Don’t Cambridge students have enough imagination and creativity to come up with new ideas?
    3. The tabloid-quality wording of the article is off-putting – with lowbrow phrases like “racy snaps”, “protect their modesty”, “stripped down”, and “bare all” (which is a lie).
    4. There’s no frontal nudity, so this is nothing but exploitation of ersatz nudity.