Should certain parts of the body be considered “private”?

It would be surprising if most naturists’ answer to that wouldn’t be a firm “no!” Or probably “hell, no!” After all, naturists enjoy being naked, and may reasonably choose to be naked in the presence of others – as long as it’s practical and their nudity shouldn’t cause offense.

Genuine naturists aren’t exhibitionists who get an illicit thrill by not covering parts of the body that most societies tend to regard as “private”. So that’s not why they answer “no” to the question in the title. Rather, it’s because naturists – at least those who’ve considered the issue – think the idea is mistaken that certain parts of the body should be considered “private”.

There’s more at stake here than some abstract dispute about what body parts should or should not be considered “private”. That’s because the ability of naturists to practice and promote their beliefs in the wholesomeness of the naked human body hinges on opinions about this issue.

Before proceeding, let’s be clear about some things. To begin with, we’re talking about “privacy” in terms of whether or not certain body parts are visible to others. So only external body parts are involved, and not parts internal to the body that would almost never be seen by others. In particular, the parts in question are really just what’s found in the pubic area, and female breasts (especially the areolas).

In contemporary Western societies, at least, that’s about it. In recent times bare buttocks have to a considerable extent emerged from the “must be private” category. (Especially considering some women’s bikinis.) Even Facebook tolerates bare butts. (But don’t dare turn around.) 100 years ago, even bare male chests were in the shouldn’t-be-seen-on-the-beach category. And not long before that, female ankles and calves. So opinions about what should or not be seen “in public” changes with the times.

Another important point is that what body parts should be considered “private” will be very different when the question is about others touching the parts, not merely being able to see them. This is an entirely different issue. Even naturists are very careful when physical contact is the issue, not merely visibility. In fact, there’s probably general agreement among both naturists and others that nearly all of a person’s body should be considered private as far as touching is concerned. Except in various special circumstances, contact with others’ bodies should occur only with clear consent.

Now, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the basic issue. The central problem is that almost all contemporary societies have a fairly firm concept of “public” vs. “private” parts. The former are “OK for others to see”. The latter are “should always be covered”. Obviously, that way of thinking means naturism has to be confined to private homes (and maybe most of the time not even then), or else places like naturist resorts, officially permitted clothing-optional beaches, and (perhaps) out-of-the-way hiking and camping areas.

Naturists, if they wish to stay out of trouble, accept as a practical matter the need to go along with this. But they shouldn’t have to, and should advocate for changing this whole way of thinking.

There are many naturist bloggers who’ve often written about how good nudity feels, nudity’s many health and psychological benefits, and all the positive aspects of socializing naked with others. Unfortunately, these frequently repeated truths (and they are truths) are unrecognized by people whose social conditioning has led them to regard naturism with derision, contempt, and extreme skepticism.

The result? Almost all naturist bloggers and writers eventually give up and direct their energies elsewhere. Does this mean that giving up is the right choice? No, not at all. It means that new approaches to promoting the wider acceptance of social nudity are needed.

Do you believe that there are parts of your body that ought to be “private”, hence necessarily covered up? I have to suppose the answer is “no”. And in that case, how can you be content for long if you’re naked only when by yourself – and therefore unable to show others the pleasure you experience from being naked?

So if you’re a naturist and want to persuade others to try social nudity for themselves, what can you do? A good place to start is letting friends and relatives (those who are open-minded, at least) know that you’re convinced of the benefits and pleasures of naturism. And one of the first points you’ll need to make when doing this is the wrongness of the whole idea that certain body parts are “private” and need to be covered up.

Once you’ve let others know you’re a naturist and enjoy social nudity (rather than only private nudity), the next step is to actually be naked at suitable times with others who know and accept your preferences.

With any luck, this may have the desirable effect of motivating others to consider trying naturism themselves. It’s clear how this works. In the presence of one or more people who’re naked, someone else may decide to try it at the same time. Because, why not? Who’s going to complain? People in groups not infrequently imitate what others are doing. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on the actual behavior, but it does happen. (“Monkey see – monkey do”) Naturists should at least consider this possibility, providing others don’t feel pressured to be naked.

In this scenario, much depends on whether or not certain body parts are considered “private”. For instance, others around you may accept that you can legitimately waive your “right to privacy” regarding what parts of your body you don’t choose to cover up. But they may prefer not to do likewise. Indeed, they still have the right to their own preferences, even if “privacy” isn’t a consideration. However, if this notion of “privacy” isn’t on the table, at least one reason not to give naturism a try is eliminated.

The effect of socializing naked with others who aren’t isn’t necessarily immediate. Although your friend “Bob” who’s gotten used to seeing you naked and has no objections may not quickly decide to try naturism himself, he might take that step someday. So if and when he does, and he finds he enjoys it, he’s in a position to pass the idea along to others. And he’ll probably also explain then that the notion of certain body parts being “private” is just wrong. If he explains this to his friend “Alice”, she too may be more accepting of your preference for nudity.

We all know that persuading others to give naturism a try usually isn’t easy. Sociologists have done studies about persuading others to adopt new behaviors that come with some “cost”. Going on a diet, taking up a new form of exercise, or learning a new skill are examples. Becoming a naturist is another. The studies show that a person is more likely to attempt a behavior change in proportion to the number of trusted acquaintances who recommend it. Makes a lot of sense, no? Anything that makes the task of persuasion easier raises the chances of success. Dispelling the idea that certain body parts are necessarily “private” is one thing that helps.

It’s certainly worthwhile to think a bit about the reasons why a mistaken idea – like the “privacy” of certain body parts – has become so widespread. There are various reasons for the idea’s origin. (The same question could be asked about the concept of “privacy” itself, though the reasons are probably more substantial.) However, for most people, the reason the idea has been acquired initially is probably just that it was impressed on them as young children by a number of people, including parents, teachers, ministers, etc.

Young children usually enjoy being naked, without any concerns, until they’re told they need to wear clothes, for reasons they don’t quite understand. And the people who tell them to cover up don’t really know why either. It’s because the idea that certain body parts are “private” is what they were taught as kids.

Let’s just wrap up by summarizing the reasons that discrediting the idea that certain body parts need to be considered “private” is important for naturists. Each of the following things becomes easier:

  • Persuading others that almost anyone could reasonably enjoy social nudity.
  • Establishing that naturism is a legitimate system of beliefs and practices.
  • Justifying acceptance by your friends and relatives that your preference for being naked in appropriate circumstances is just like a preference for any other reasonable choice of attire.

8 thoughts on “Should certain parts of the body be considered “private”?”

  1. Of course not, no way no how, the human body is a masterpiece of art and nature. Both men and women are all unique. Each are different and should be treated that way. Male and female private parts are part of our bodies, they shouldn’t be ashamed of.

  2. I think the tide shift in culture thinking different with regards to social nudism will happen when there is a shift in the “nudist” culture with regards to being able to discuss sexuality without demonizing the subject. It comes to the fact that our society as a whole teaches sex as taboo or use it for marketing Because it’s taboo that makes it enticing. Therefore any public nudity is wrong by society standards. I think most people immediately associate nudity with sex. There is a time and place for everything and it is my opinion that we can discuss and should discuss the greater issue more frequently and openly even and especially when practicing social nudism.

    1. Clearly “the public” immediately associates nudity with sex. That is the problem, and it has been forever. But sex is a perennially popular topic. Too large a portion of the population demonizes sex and makes it a taboo subject – even as they obsess about it in private. (Example: Jerry Falwell Jr.) This is the baleful heritage of centuries of crazy forms of religion. And it doesn’t show signs of fading away anytime soon. However, more enlightened segments of the population that have a more liberated attitude towards sexuality are also expanding, at least in the more modern societies.

      All that said, naturism is absolutely a distinct thing from sexuality. The fact that many people fully enjoy both is what’s confusing the public. And most of the media – both traditional and electronic forms – is too superficial and craven to inform the public of the difference.

      Several things can be done to work around these problems. One is to stop using the terms “nudism” and “nudist” – because they’ve been so thoroughly tainted by misunderstanding. It’s mainly the U. S. media that cluelessly keep using those terms. The rest of the world uses “naturism” and “naturist” (or equivalents in the local language).

      The other big thing that would help is for naturists to go around the media and inform others on a person-to-person basis of what naturism is really about. It’s a fact that people’s opinions are shaped by what their closest acquaintances are saying and doing.

  3. Being asked what naturists like most about is, the answer is often: ‘the experience of freedom’. In that respect the German term FKK (Frei Korper Kultur) explaines it very clearly. I think this feeling of freedom should more often and loudly be expressed in promoting naturism.

    1. Good point. Unfortunately, lots of people are selfish about “freedom”. They want it for themselves, but not so much for others. “Freedom for me, but not for thee!” (And I don’t mean naturists in particular.)

      1. Social Nudity Brings People Together once posted a pic of a nude lady saying to a lady in pants and T-shirt: “Equal rights for nudists doesn’t mean less rights for you. It’s not a pie!”
        That’s exactly what it is about. Or as we say in Dutch: ‘delen is vermenigvuldigen’. The pun is that the verb ‘delen’ can mean ‘to share’ as well as ‘to divide’, so: ‘to share is to multiply’ and ‘to divide is to multiply’ as well.

  4. One curiosity about the widespread reaction to nudity is that while the naked body in public is a no-no, as soon as a “celebrity” purposefully or accidentally shows some forbidden flesh the whole internet lights up with millions rushing to view the result.

    1. Good example of widespread hypocrisy. The whole celebrity business is pretty ridiculous. Celebrities that think they don’t already have enough attention will do the nudity thing. And their antics keep the tabloid trash media in business. Shows how many people don’t really object to nudity, but it is something they can get pompously riled up about.

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