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.
Disclaimer: I’ve been a naturist for longer than you’ve been alive (if you’re under 30). So you may wonder how what I have to say can be relevant to you. It’s simple: I was an adult under 30 for more than a decade myself. I’ve been there. I already had some idea what naturism was about – but only a little. Before turning 30 I’d never been naked with others who enjoyed the pleasures of social nudity – not at a nude beach, a naturist resort, or even a “naked party”. I certainly wish I’d started earlier – and even more that I understood then how naturism works and how wonderful it is.
There’s nothing particularly special about the age of 30. You might have become interested in naturism at a younger age – perhaps even most of your life if you were raised in a naturist family. If you’re already experienced in naturism, I probably won’t have much to add. However, let’s suppose you’re interested in naturism, but aren’t very clear about how to actually get into it.
Perhaps you’re 30 or older – maybe even by a decade or two. Yet what I have to say could easily be useful to you as well. So don’t take the number 30 too seriously. But the older you get, the more difficult becoming a naturist can be. This is true even though many people don’t become naturists until they’re in their 50s or 60s. Indeed, the fact it takes so long for many people to get into naturism partially explains why so many people you see at nude beaches and naturist resorts are on the older side. But that doesn’t have to be the case, and it would be far better for the social acceptance of naturism if people started a lot earlier – like under 30.
Aspects of the naturist landscape
The first question to consider should be: What is naturism anyhow? This can be answered in various ways. The “official” definition was formulated by the International Naturist Federation: “A way of life in harmony with nature, characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.” That’s certainly a view held in common by many naturists around the world.
But most naturists don’t think it’s exclusively about nature and the environment. Many naturists enjoy nudity only in their own homes. For others the social aspect of nonsexual nudity with others is important. Naturists typically enjoy a wide variety of activities without clothing. The list includes sunbathing and swimming at clothing-optional beaches, using home spas and swimming pools, having naked house parties, visiting naturist parks and resorts, camping and hiking nude, competing naked with others in sports – and just about any other nonsexual activity in which wearing clothes is unnecessary.
It’s not especially important to identify yourself as a “naturist” in order to enjoy naturist activities. You don’t need to accept any labels as long as you enjoy being nonsexually naked by yourself or when socializing with others. What you enjoy doing without clothes is the important thing – not how you categorize yourself.
However, because of outdated attitudes shaped by ancient taboos around nudity that are prevalent in most societies, being able to engage in clothesfree naturist activities is often more difficult than it should be. You need to think about the problems and how they can be dealt with, because they can affect your ability to start enjoying naturism.
If anything, it can actually be easier to get into naturism before you turn 30. That’s because there may be significant problems getting into naturism after the age of 30. So it’s really best to start enjoying naturism as soon as possible. Decide to confront the various problems that society poses for naturism while your youthful optimism is still strong.
Problems of getting into naturism later
The first problem with starting later is that many, if not most, people have entered a long-term relationship with another person by the age of 30. Perhaps much earlier. And maybe even more than once. Unfortunately, the chances are high that the other person knows little about naturism and may not especially want to be in a relationship with a naturist. If you’re under 30, you may still be looking for the “right” person to partner with. In that case, you have more flexibility to include at least some understanding and tolerance of naturism as a criterion for a desirable long-term partner.
The second potential problem is that by the age of 30 you may have settled in a part of the country that is not understanding and tolerant of naturism. (In all of this, I’m mainly concerned with naturism in the U. S. Conditions in countries outside of the U. S. and various European countries are generally even less favorable for naturism.) After reaching 30 you may have a steady job that you like and already own a house. So moving elsewhere might not be an attractive possibility.
There’s a third potential problem. If you’re already in a long-term relationship, or have been, you may also have young children. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with raising children in a naturist family. There’s no evidence that naturist nudity is harmful to children. However, raising children is a very big deal all by itself. Doing it right takes a lot of time, energy, and financial resources. Adding naturist activities on top of that could be more than you can handle if you want to do parenting well. Nevertheless, if you can combine raising children with naturism everyone in the family will benefit.
The last potential problem is that the older you get the more friends and work colleagues you’re likely to have. Having a larger number of friends and associates is a good thing in itself. But it can deter you from openly engaging in naturism to the fullest out of fear of alienating people who are important to you. It’s better to get into naturism early, then try to associate with people who’re open-minded and respectful of your preferences.
Understand the problems so you can be prepared for them
What I mean by “the naturist landscape” is the state of naturism today in the U. S. (and similar countries, such as Canada and Australia). The landscape comprises all the enjoyable naturist activities listed earlier. But the landscape also contains a variety of challenging obstacles to get around. There are several social and cultural problems that must be dealt with along the trail to enjoying naturism. They shape the “landscape” much like natural factors such as climate, topography of the land, and geographic barriers.
By discussing these problems I absolutely don’t want to discourage any interest in naturism. But forewarned is forearmed. You need to be prepared for difficulties you may face, so you can be prepared for them. Don’t be discouraged if you encounter any of these problems.
The first problem is that naturism and social nudity are poorly understood in most of the countries we’re concerned with here. Especially in the U. S., most of the population thinks that naturism is largely unhealthy and mostly about sex. That’s completely wrong, but it’s just how the many and varied misconceptions are. Attacking this problem directly isn’t easy. People don’t spontaneously change their opinions that have solidified over many years. You should be sure that anyone you want to persuade considers you a sensible person and already respects and generally accepts your good judgment.
Making matters worse, there are many serious misconceptions about naturism – other than the false idea that it’s mostly about sex. (More here) Time and effort are required to slap down the fallacies. Naturism isn’t a weird philosophy. It’s not harmful to children. It’s not against reasonable religious principles. It’s not indecent, immoral, or illegal (in the “right” places). It’s not unsanitary. It’s not exhibitionism. See the supplied links for more explanations of what naturism is not.
The best solution is to have many more naturists who are open about enjoying social nudity and are numerous enough that large numbers of non-naturists will be sufficiently acquainted with one or more of them in order to correct the prevalent misconceptions. Attaining this objective is something this series of articles is aimed at doing. You can contribute to this by being a credible advocate for naturism.
The second problem is that the majority of active naturists, at least in the U. S., are in their 50s – or older. Don’t get trapped in the minefield of categorizing and characterizing different “generations” (i. e. “boomers”, “gen-x”, etc.). That kind of stereotyping is unfair and unhelpful. Nevertheless, it’s quite true that people of different ages, cultural conditioning, and life stages have different interests – regarding hobbies, tastes in art and music, life experiences, preferred activities, social affinities, outlooks on life, and many other things.
That’s just how it is. People in any stage of life simply have less in common with people in different stages. Preferring to interact with others near someone’s own age is completely natural. But enjoying nudity is something sharable with others regardless of age. If being naked feels good to you, your best chance to enjoy it with others is to not let age differences get in the way.
The third problem is widespread – but also fixable. This is the problem of “gender imbalance”. It’s an unfortunate reality that currently (in the U. S. and elsewhere) significantly more men than women participate actively in naturism. It wasn’t always that way. Before the last few decades, there was much less imbalance. It was quite typical for couples (and their children) to participate together in naturism. This was true even before the “counter-culture” (“hippies”, communes, etc.) came along. But gender imbalances have been growing slowly but steadily since the 1980s.
There are various possible explanations for this trend, such as the successive stages of feminism and women’s rights concerns, the fear by women of their bodies being objectified by the “male gaze”, and the very real injustices of sexual harassment cited by the “me too” movement. These concerns are valid and shouldn’t be dismissed. Unfortunately, women as well as men are less able to enjoy naturism because of this imbalance.
Both men and women are adversely affected, since the imbalance deters both from involvement in naturism. Obviously, it’s uncomfortable for almost all women to be naked when they’re outnumbered by men 5-to-1 or 10-to-1. And the worse the imbalance, the greater the disincentive for women to participate. A vicious circle. Women who would otherwise enjoy naturism are understandably reluctant to participate.
Men are also affected – even if they simply want to bring a female friend along to a clothing-optional beach or resort. And if a man is in or seeking a heterosexual relationship, any woman will probably be more concerned about accompanying them to naturist places. Why would a man want to engage in activities that someone he cares about doesn’t want to participate in? Understandably, men who don’t have or seek a close woman friend or life partner may be less interested in something a specific half of the human race isn’t inclined to share with them.
The fourth problem is also serious. It’s about the way naturism is highly discriminated against in most popular social media – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Medium, etc. Specifically, it’s how images containing full-frontal nudity – pictures of naturists simply being naturists – are almost always taboo. Additionally, social media in general, even when full nudity is allowed, are not very effective at changing attitudes towards social nudity held by most of the general public. Although suppression of images doesn’t seem as bad as suppression of free discussion, it sends a clear message to everyone that nudity cannot be tolerated in general society.
So there you have the main problems. Fortunately, just by getting involved in naturism, you can do something to overcome them. Future posts in this series will present a roadmap for participating in naturism.