Credit: British Naturism
- The naked truth: At Conn. nudist resort, ‘You can’t hide behind fancy clothes. You have to be yourself here’
Reporter Ellen Albanese has a detailed and positive story about the Solair Recreation League, which has been continuously owned and run by its members since 1934 – one of the first nudist resorts in the U. S. 85 years is a good run for any small business, let alone one that caters to a very specialized clientele. It’s not an ordinary “business”, since it’s owned by its long-term members. However, non-member visitors are welcome. Located in northeastern Connecticut, a part of the state tourists often bypass, the setting is pleasantly rural, allowing the resort to provide a spacious 360 acres for recreational facilities, hiking trails, and privately-owned cottages. Ellen declined to remove her own clothes, but still provided a very favorable account of what “real” naturism is about – mostly by use of quotes from a number of naturists she spoke with. Since the story appeared in the Boston Globe, New England’s most widely read newspaper, it’s a great example of mainstream media providing an accurate picture of what naturism is really like.
- A Once-in-a-Lifetime Reporting Dilemma: Should I Take My Clothes Off?
Here’s another story on naturism from a reporter of a well-known mainstream newspaper (the New York Times). In this case, the reporter, Katrin Bennhold, does remove her clothes. (For some reason, most stories of this sort seem to be assigned to female reporters.) Nevertheless, and in spite of the fact that Katrin grew up in West Germany, she held off deciding whether to disrobe as long as possible – but at least she did. That’s always a good sign of a reporter’s professionalism when reporting on naturism. It was a big help, since Katrin, once naked, “found a new level of openness in the people I interviewed. Nudism, I discovered, was not just a quirky lifestyle choice.” The next article tells what she learned about naturism in Germany.
- A Very German Idea of Freedom: Nude Ping-Pong, Nude Sledding, Nude Just About Anything
Katrin Bennhold’s article on the current state of naturism in Germany covers a lot of territory in the space of only about 1450 words. There have been a number of reports that naturism in Germany is declining in popularity. According to one source quoted in the article, “Formal membership numbers in nudist clubs have halved since the end of Communism to about 32,000.” However, that’s comparable to membership numbers in the U. S. – a country with about 4 times the population. And another source says, “the numbers are rising again — especially as young families rediscover nudism.” Modern naturism originated in Germany about 120 years ago “when early naturists rebelled against the grime of industrialization and then the mass slaughter of World War I.” After World War II naturism was more popular in Communist East Germany than in the West, supposedly because it was one of the few forms of freedom allowed. Even today it remains more popular in the East than in the West. But in the country as a whole there are still many naturist opportunities – and public nudity is more acceptable than in almost any other country: “Entire stretches of German waterfronts are designated as nudist beaches. There is a nudist hiking trail. There are sporting events from nude yoga to nude sledding. German saunas are mixed and naked. People regularly take their clothes off on television, too.”
- Why Can’t Journalism about Nudism Be Better?
New naturist blogger Matthew McDermott makes some very perceptive criticisms of how mainstream journalism deals with naturism:
“The nudity taboo is so strong in our society that anything involving naked people is a reader magnet. Journalists play straight into this narrative with articles that are designed to tap into readers’ naughty thrills. The result: terrible writing about nudists and nudism. Articles treat nudists like an alien species, or like a gang of lunatics ostracized in “colonies”. They use childish jokes, unfunny references to body parts, and the most tired cliches imaginable. How often does an article promise the “bare facts” about nudism?”
The articles noted above are for the most part exempt from the criticism (or they probably wouldn’t have been included). But even there we have another egregious cliche in a headline (“The naked truth”). Matthew offers some good suggestions for what naturists can do to effectively express criticism of poor writing about naturism in the media. One important point that’s not made is that reporters writing about naturism should actually experience naturist nudity themselves by getting naked. It’s not necessary that they actually enjoy it, but they should at least try it. Why should a reader bother with a review of, say, a new restaurant if the reviewer had only visited and hadn’t eaten there?
- The Great British Skinny Dip – a round up
British Naturism, the official naturist organization of Great Britain, uses creative and effective techniques to entice people with little or no experience of naturism into giving it a try. Their Great British Skinny Dip is an excellent example. This year saw the fourth annual iteration of the event, whose purpose is “to encourage the general public to discover the joys of nude swimming (and socialising!) and feel the health and well-being benefits that come with the decision not to wear clothes.” Unlike the U. S. Naturist Society Foundation’s “Nude Recreation Week” – which seems to consist mainly of a few suggested activities, the GBSD featured a “variety of events we had going on around the country – both in terms of location and the experiences on offer. Dippers could brave everything from a chilly wild swim in the Lake District’s Beacon Tarn, via beaches, rivers, outdoor lidos, Naturist clubs, and campsites, to the more comfortable waters of their local swimming pool.” Anyone interested in experiencing naturism themselves for the first time had places they could actually go to do that with other first-timers – mostly at minimal expense to themselves except for travel costs.
- A heatwave is the perfect moment to rediscover the joys of being naked
Perhaps it’s a coincidence, or maybe not, but leading news media in both the U. S. (see initial articles here) and the UK (the Guardian) have quite recently featured well-written articles that take naturism seriously instead of treating it as a joke. This Guardian article, written by freelancer Alice O’Keeffe, starts off portending a sudden and unexpected embrace of social nudity:
“Until very recently, I would have gnawed off my own arm more readily than take off my clothes in public. Partly because I am pale, I’ve had two children and my tummy does not resemble a washboard, but primarily because I am British. Public nudity comes about as naturally to me as allowing somebody to skip a queue.”
Here are a few excerpts that capture the essence of Alice’s epiphany:
- At a festival a few months ago, I found myself in a crowded sauna, naked as the day I was born.
- Being naked with other people instantly gets rid of several levels of nonsense.
- When I took off my clothes that day at the festival, I experienced about five minutes of extreme awkwardness, an intense desire to cover myself up with my hands. But because that would have looked ridiculous, I had to take a deep breath and walk tall.
- The experience made me think about the degree of body shame that is ingrained in us from childhood.
- I’ve become a regular visitor to Brighton’s nudist beach…. I would love to see more people – especially women – making the most of these spaces.
These remarks pretty well encapsulate the experience of most people who have suddenly grasped the appeal of naturism. Perhaps Alice should try interesting British Naturism in some of her writing skills.
- What Is Stopping You From Trying and Enjoying Nudism?
Most readers of this blog probably are either experienced naturists, or else are seriously interested in trying it. In the first case, consider showing this article to anyone you might want to participate in naturism. In the second case, let it give you the courage to jump in yourself. The first sentence lays out the essence of the problem: “We were all born nude and then it started with a diaper and the textile indoctrination began.” In general, most of the excuses people have for dismissing the idea of naturism stem from how our society conditions children to fear and avoid nudity with others from an early age. That’s not to say there aren’t sometimes genuine causes for concern – such as possible negative reactions from friends and family or adverse effects on one’s employment. But the root of these concerns is the fact that most others have similarly been conditioned to shun social nudity. This article offers a number of approaches to overcoming the injustice of how you were probably socialized to fear nudity.
2 thoughts on “Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 9/22/19”
This is a great roundup of stories, and thank you for including me! I agree that journalists covering nudism should themselves get naked and I agree it should not just be young women who do so. But I don’t like when journalists make these stories about themselves and their body issues (though that is useful context of course). I find that journalists who fixate on their nudity hangups tend to use nudists as a way to consider and deal with their problems. But we don’t exist as a backdrop for a journalist’s personal spiritual growth. We’re actual real people, and you can’t report on naturism without understanding the people who embrace that philosophy.
Okay, that’s enough ranting from this cranky old man! Again, great roundup and commentary here. Thanks!
I don’t see that as such a bad thing. Journalists are human too (most of them, anyhow). They have hang-ups and opinions just like everyone else. When they express their own feelings it helps the reader, I think, identify with the writer and the subject matter, because most readers (unlike we naturists) are likely to have the same feelings and body issues. If they start out with reservations about nudity, that demonstrates some objectivity. If the writer resolves their feelings to become more accepting of naturism, that sets a good example for the reader. If not, well, that’s life. Naturism isn’t really for everyone. Check the front page of the Guardian or the Washington Post. There’s a prominent opinion section. Writers express what they personally think, and that’s OK.