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.

29 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.

      1. Very interesting,

        I send you an article/blog, that I felt was synonymous with this very question, even informing you my feeling that they went together. To this VERY day, NO response at all from YOU.

        Then I find this on twitter.

        Well, you ARE free to do pretty much anything you want.

        Considering your “prompt?” response, in the future, I should share things with actual INTERESTED parties.

        Yet, another learning experience for ME!

        Thank you for “telling” me what you thought of MY post.

  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.

  5. If I’m nude everything is in plain sight. Only if I put my hands over certain part of my nude body. Then I’m drawing attention to it.

    1. Their is nothing to be ashamed of yourself and others, every one is unique in his or her body. People choose to wear clothes or not. 👬 and women should appreciate the body they have. Muscles, body hair on certain areas and different types of breasts and butts. 👬 and women are proud to have a artistry and appeal.

    2. Exactly. It’s amazing how many people seem not to understand that concept. The towel dance is a perfect example.

      1. Children are taught the simplistic idea of “private” parts when they are very young, and seldom encounter a different point of view, so it’s passed from generation to generation without questioning.

      2. No, they should be covered just because it can be seen. Animals don’t need cover their private parts they have no 👐. We as humans shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed because our private parts are exposed, it makes us what we are. 👬 and 👭 are both different from our private parts. When we are clothed they are covered and protected from injury or infection. When we are young we look alike at see our differences in our bodies.As we age our bodies begin the process of growing hair and mature. Boys to 👬 and girls to 👭. Men have our testicular area and women their vaginal area.
        Being nude shouldn’t prevent us from being ourselves as human beings. I apologize for the long explanation, Anton its how I roll.

  6. The thing the article fails to even mention,and to me this is key, is mixed gender nudity. As far as I know there is no taboo about men and women being naked with each other in the pool changing room or the showers after sports for instance as long as they’re all the same. However I think if you suggested to either group that these facilities became mixed there would be a mass exodus. So what is the trigger point where one becomes acceptable and the other isn’t ?. I don’t have the answer I’m afraid.

    1. As far as I know there is no taboo about men and women being naked with each other in the pool changing room or the showers after sports for instance as long as they’re all the same.

      Actually, I occasionally read complaints from both women and men that others in their same-sex locker rooms don’t cover up as soon as possible, perhaps staying naked when chatting with friends. But I haven’t used a gym or pool locker room in a long time, so I don’t really know what the situation is. In the past, there were often rooms for multiple people (single-sex) to shower, no private showers. (At naturist resorts, men and women often share a shower room.) In any case, this seems like a separate issue from what parts of the body are considered “private” – so even clothing-optional beaches often have separate sections for nudes and prudes.

  7. My somewhat rural university’s pool complex is older, and there are pillar showers, each with four heads, in a big room. Then, there’s a half wall to an open changing area. Each week, we have family swim night, and it gets quite busy down there near closing. Moms can bring their boys into the ladies’ locker room, at their discretion, up until like age 10. About half of the ladies shower nude, including myself. Sometimes I am next to a boy or two at a pillar, and I know the older ones are sneaking peeks, but it’s never made me uncomfortable, and it all seems pretty innocent. I enjoy social nudity, and this is an easy and safe way to be around both sexes.

    Regarding my “private” parts, I agree that making them public helps remove that stigma and increases body acceptance of myself and others.

    Something that hasn’t really been discussed yet is pubic hair. For the longest time, I kept my bikini line maintained but kept a fair patch of hair inward. So, I was showering nude at the pool and my pubic hair was obviously exposed, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was still keeping parts of me private. While pubic hairstyle is very much a personal choice, I felt that it concealed my vaginal area really well. After shaving all of my pubic hair, my labia are much more exposed and also very obvious now, and I finally feel free. It’s hard to explain, but I feel more accepted than ever when socially nude without pubic hair in the way.

    1. That’s all exactly as it should be. The whole concept of “private” parts has been around a long, long time. But so have lots of other silly ideas. Like wearing clothes when being naked would be more comfortable.

      As far as pubic hair is concerned, it’s really like any other body hair – a matter of personal preference. Quite recently, men have been going crazy for facial hair, to styles common 100+ years ago. That really shouldn’t matter, but lots of people seem to think it does. I recently shaved off all pubic hair, for the first time ever. And I liked the look. But it’s grown back, and so what? Hardly worth worrying about one way or the other.

    2. Thank you for your female perspective, as there’s an imbalance with far more males than females participating online in nudism.

      Regarding the benefits of mixed gender showers, making genitals less private also makes it harder (no pun intended) for pornographers to find customers.

      You bring up a good point about removing your pubic hair. Unlike females, male genitalia is exposed prior to grooming. Even though males may feel more naked when bare down there, females go from hidden to exposed, making it a far more important and intimate decision.

      1. It is sort of weird how evolution has kept pubic hair around, even though humans have lost hair (more or less) in most other parts of the body. There’s probably some evolutionary reason why hair still remains in the places that it does. Facial hair on men and other hair on the head in both men and women seems to have some sort of communication function. Offhand I can’t think of an obvious evolutionary function for pubic hair.

  8. The whole concept of “private parts” and “private (normal body function) activities” is a form of prejudice against human bodies. The so-called “private parts” are the parts that are specifically used for sharing with other people. Their design and normal function is to match up with the parts of someone else, and to provide pleasure doing so. They are not “private parts.” They are sharing parts.

    Instead of spreading misanthropy against our bodies we should be glad that our parents shared their sharing parts rather than keeping their bodies private. Self hate of our bodies is a form of cultural psychosis.

    1. Agree with your sentiments. We are cultural outliers with this view, but that doesn’t make us wrong. As humans with the goal of perpetuating the species, shouldn’t we be celebrating our genitals instead of shaming them?

      1. Just speculating about this, but maybe part of the problem is that humans (like most animals) have a short attention span. If genitals (and the rest of the naked body) are always exposed, concentrating on other things besides procreation may be more difficult. In modern societies, there are many other things that need to be concentrated on. Some contemporary societies, such as Islamic ones, go so far as requiring women to be almost entirely covered so that men won’t be distracted.

    2. Nudity and free expression has existed since ancient times, it’s been in art such as paintings on canvas and statues of how artists depicted the human body? Every person no matter age or body shape, they are allowed the freedom to show everything about the human anatomy? To consider our male and female genitaila private parts it differentiates what makes us men and women? You see in artwork of Renaissance artists, to see how we look different from one another, Men have a penis, Women have breasts and vaginas that is why we look to make love and eventually have children? Nudism started in Europe and other countries and then in the U.S. to have the freedom to express what we are on Earth? All of us were born naked when we came into the world? The animals in animal kingdom are naked why not should we to explore and enjoy nature? Native tribes still do it being comfortable without clothing if they choose? Women should have the freedom to not wear bras and enjoy life, walking in public showing their breasts with a shirt revealing no bra? People who go to nude beaches take their families and feel free of not wearing swimwear to enjoy the water and sun? Boys and girls looks almost identical until puberty sets in as we grow up? We should not be ashamed about covering our private parts it what makes us human beings?

    3. I absolutely do like your term ‘sharing parts’. It is so much more truthful than ‘private parts’, or should be. I do believe that humankind would have healthier mental health if we all considered the genitals to be ‘sharing parts’.

  9. Isn’t one of the main tenants of nudism, the titillation of clothing leads to the sexualization of the body? Thus, a nude body does not require the same amount of concentration as a clothed body, especially one donning yoga pants.

    1. I think you are confusing “sexual” with “sensual”. For a nudist/naturist/someone who likes to be naked, sex no more enters the equation than it does for anyone going about their daily grind with clothes on. The sensual pleasure is about enjoying the absence of cloth against skin, the presence of sun, wind, even rain and snow, on the whole body, the lack of constraint of clothing. If you’re going to the nudist beach to get a sexual thrill, you’re reading the wrong blog.

      1. I guess my post may have been a little confusing. The main point I was trying to make is, one of the things nudists don’t like about clothing is it sexualizes the body, arousing people visually. In turn, people spend more time and energy imaging what a person looks like naked than if they saw them naked. Please do not imply I go to a nude beach for sexual thrills.

  10. Feeling free to be naked is more of being with nature, not just about sex? Its more about an art form and to see the differences in our bodies and to enjoy the freedom of nature?

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