The gender imbalance problem in naturism

Here’s a new blog post from UK bloggers Hannah and Nick: Encouraging women into naturism. Almost immediately they say “Our experience is that there are actually very few who are actively against people removing their clothes in appropriate public circumstances. However, there does seem to be a gender divide when it comes to people trying naturism for themselves. Men are often keen, women less so.”
Continue reading “The gender imbalance problem in naturism”

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 10/31/19

While, sadly, it’s now autumn – and getting steadily colder in the northern hemisphere – spring has arrived in the south – together with good weather for outdoor nudity. So we now have naturist stories from Australia, and should see many more until spring comes again in the north.
Continue reading “Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 10/31/19”

Thoughts on “Why I am a Nudist”


Photo credit: Mona Kuhn

Nick Alimonos is a prolific writer of fantasy fiction and also on naturism and philosophical topics. Why I am a Nudist is a recent post of his. I can’t disagree with any of the main points, but it does suggest a few additional thoughts. To be clear, I prefer to use the terms “naturist” and “naturism”, but I see little significant difference from “nudist” and “nudism”. Since Nick has written so much on naturism, I haven’t yet read all of it, so I apologize in advance if he has expressed the same ideas I’ll present here.

To begin with, Nick writes “The reasons I choose to be a nudist is something I feel I have failed to adequately express, but the simple answer is: naked feels good and naked feels natural.” Actually, Nick has written that before, for example, in “The Devil’s Advocate: Why Nudism is Wrong*” he tells about how he responded to his skeptical wife’s observation that many of the commonly cited justifications for naturism (such as healthfulness, etc.) can be countered with: “The genitals do not have to be exposed for that to work.” Indeed, one gets nearly as much vitamin D at the beach whether or not one is wearing a (sufficiently small) swimsuit. Nick’s eventual response is that “the reason we choose to be nudists … can be summed up in three simple words: It feels good.”

I certainly agree with that, but I don’t think it fully counters his wife’s observation. If what you’re wearing at the beach (or at home) is just a string bikini or a (man’s) speedo why does the exposure of a few additional square inches of skin make any significant difference? Wouldn’t the difference need to be qualitative as well as quantitative? And if so, what is the difference in the quality of the feeling, between covering nothing at all and covering only the genital area? I do believe there is an important difference in the quality of the feeling – and it’s decisive for naturists – but it requires a bit of explanation.

In the recent post, the very next thing Nick writes is that his realization about why naturists love being naked is “tantamount to a religious experience, a form of Buddhist-like enlightenment.” I think that the realization is far more Buddhist than Nick suggests. I can’t claim to know a lot about Buddhism, but the sense I have is that the ultimate goal is freedom from “needs” and, ultimately, from “desires”. For naturists that means, in particular, not only freedom from wearing clothes but also from feeling any need or desire to wear clothes. In this sense, very few naturists are able to achieve this degree of freedom – because physical comfort and the demands of society usually get in the way. However, it is the amount of freedom from needing or desiring to wear clothes that naturists are able to achieve that is an important part of why they are naturists. Freedom from quotidian encumbrances “feels good” by itself.

From there Nick goes on to explain why it is that being naked “feels good”. He observes that the skin is the body’s largest sensory organ. Consequently, wearing any clothing at all interferes with that organ’s ability to perform its function – in proportion to how much of the skin is covered by something else. Of course, if the proportion is small, as with a minimal bathing suit, that isn’t necessarily important. But in “ordinary” society, covering one’s skin by clothing is much more extensive most of the time. So naturally, naturists will prefer a social environment where the required amount of clothing is none, or at least as little as “possible” – as long as the sensations conveyed from their skin are pleasurable. Obviously, most naturists will choose to wear enough to avoid unpleasant sensations, such as excessive cold – but the more avid naturists will do so only reluctantly.

If enjoying nudity is only about what “feels good”, why would a naturist be reluctant to put clothes on if the ambient temperature is low? Presumably, there’s some point at which nudity stops feeling good. Many naturists, however, are able to tolerate lower temperatures than people who habitually wear clothes. (It’s humanly possible to tolerate rather low temperatures with very little clothing. See here or here for examples.) But committed naturists may still prefer being naked even if they find the temperature somewhat uncomfortable. Some will even trek naked on chilly Scottish Munros. That suggests there’s more to the preference for nudity besides pleasant sensory feelings.

A quote from Walt Whitman indicates what’s involved: “Perhaps the inner never-lost rapport we hold with earth, light, air, trees, &c, is not to be realized through eyes and mind only, but through the whole corporeal body, which I will not have blinded or bandaged any more than the eyes.” Clothing that covers any part of the skin diminishes sensory information coming through the skin. Just as covering eyes, ears, or nose will interfere with their sensory function, covering the skin with clothing has the same effect. Such covering is an impediment to our contact with the external world. We wouldn’t generally want to interfere with our ability to see pleasant sights, hear pleasant sounds, or smell pleasant scents. Likewise, why interfere with the skin’s ability to sense moderate sunlight, the warmth of a campfire, the stimulation of gentle breezes, or the caress of flowing water?

Nevertheless, I don’t think that’s still the whole story. Nick goes into great detail to make the case that “Nudity is Practical, Clothing is Not”. Obviously, that all depends on circumstances. Nudity is especially practical for various activities, such as swimming, exercise, sunbathing, washing cars, doing household chores, and (as far as naturists are concerned) socializing with other naturists. Clothing is impractical for many of those things just listed, but also because it costs money, has to be washed periodically, takes up space to be stored, wears out, needs to be changed to be “appropriate” in differing social contexts, and so on. But clearly there are situations where the degree of practicality is reversed – such as going anywhere that’s cold, interacting with non-naturists, or creating an appearance of authority, wealth, status, sophistication, or hipness. Notice how many of those factors are related to social interactions.

Nick also has a lot to say about “shame”, and how that is in fact simply an “illusion”. Shame related to nudity is a social construct that in most societies is conditioned in most children at an early age – by parents, peers, authority figures, and society in general. He points out, quite correctly, that “shame, and body taboos, are social constructs, which quickly disintegrate once examined closely.”

But there’s quite a lot more that can be said about this social aspect. In my opinion, the way nudity works in a naturist context may be the most compelling reason for being a naturist in the first place. Consider the simple social custom of shaking hands with a new acquaintance or a friend one hasn’t seen for a while. Supposedly the custom arose as a way for people to demonstrate to each other that they aren’t carrying a weapon and don’t pose any threat. I would suggest that – in any context where clothing is optional and nudity is allowed – choosing to be naked signifies that one neither poses a treat to others nor feels any threat from them. And therefore friendly interaction is possible, while naked, without fear of improper or unwanted behavior from others.

In most societies, there are various functions fulfilled by wearing clothes. As already mentioned, one function is that clothing can signify things like authority, wealth, status, sophistication, or hipness. However, clothes can be used to conceal or mislead about personal characteristics rather than to convey accurate information. Naturists rightly claim that when everyone’s naked, it’s not quite so easy to deduce accurate information about another person – or be deceived about the truth – by the clothes they (don’t) wear. At the same time, though, it’s incorrect to suppose that nudity prevents making judgments about things that clothing can signify. The truth is that people, even if naked, reveal a lot about themselves in a number of ways, such as their manner of speaking, their vocabulary, their body language, the things they talk about, and feature of their body’s appearance (hair styles, jewelry, tattoos, physique, etc.) Some of those features can be deceptive too – but not as readily as with clothing.

I think non-naturists probably regard clothing as a sort of armor protecting them against judgments others might make about them – or against possible overt unwanted behavior. People are naturally wary of how others they don’t know well might think about them or behave towards them. It’s just human nature for people to be concerned about their appearance to others, let alone about their physical safety. But, at least, when everyone’s naked, nobody uses clothing as armor – so there’s less reason to think clothing is necessary. This assumption is even better in an environment in which naturist behavioral norms are in effect – for instance, at popular clothing-optional beaches, naturist clubs and resorts, body-painting events, “World Naked Bike Rides”, and private homes of other naturists.

The problem in most societies today, including ours, is that most people don’t know what the naturist behavioral norms are – specifically that naturists don’t need clothing in order to behave well and respect others’ boundaries. All societies depend, to a large extent, on the existence of sensible behavioral norms. Societies can’t function if people can’t trust most others they interact with to behave “properly” and predictably. Educating society about naturist norms is a problem that must be solved, in order for naturism to become more “normal” and acceptable. Only then will people realize that the “armor” provided by clothing isn’t necessary. If others around me are comfortable being naked, why shouldn’t I be also? That’s a big reason why people who realize this can become naturists themselves and enjoy a naturist lifestyle. It’s simply more pleasant to interact with people who don’t need or desire to wear clothes, because there’s general agreement that whatever armor clothes provide isn’t necessary.

There’s another way of thinking about this. Among naturists, it’s easier for people to be more open with each other in their interactions when they’re naked. Nudity expresses (honestly, one hopes) that “I have nothing to hide” and nothing to be ashamed of. Think about the words “close” and “disclose”. “Close” is the opposite of “open”. So to “disclose” something is to become more open about it. “Disclothe” is an actual word, meaning “to remove clothes”, though it’s seldom used in modern English – but it is in the Oxford English Dictionary. It means the opposite of “clothe”, so is the same as “undress”. Now think about how similar “disclothe” sounds to “disclose”. That might be simply coincidental – but it accurately represents what’s going on. One discloses something of oneself by disclothing. Naturists consider that a good thing. Being “nude” or “naked” in both law and common parlance means that genital areas (and/or female breasts) are uncovered. Therefore, covering those parts is not compatible with what naturists seek to do.

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 9/30/19

  • Late Summer Nights with Naturist Friends: My Humble Attempt at Writing a How-To Guide
    If you like the idea of more frequently having impromptu clothing-optional get-togethers at your home for friends, Dan Carlson has some suggestions that may make such occasions more enjoyable for everyone. But they aren’t exactly things you may not have thought of yourself. Your friends needn’t necessarily be naturists themselves, but they should be comfortable socializing with others who prefer being naked. And, if you provided enough incentives around your home, some may even try out the pleasures of social nudity. I’ve written before on the felicity of, when possible, mixing together friends who are naturists with others who are merely tolerant of nudity.

    So, what sorts of things will make such occasions better? Put a fair-sized hot tub or spa at the top of the list. Your family will thank you, even if you don’t have guests. Provide towels for everyone – for sitting on, of course, but also for drying off after the hot tub, and even wrapping up in loosely for those who’re a bit shy of full nudity. In gathering places open to the outdoors, such as on a screened porch, have a source of heat like a wood or propane stove for the colder evenings. A nice fire in an outdoor fire pit is also good (unless it’s pretty cold, raining, or snowing). If you want to be outdoors in the back yard, weather permitting (and if mosquitoes and the like aren’t a problem), you’ll want privacy from the neighbors (if you have some who aren’t naturist-friendly). The right shrubbery for your climate is the best way, but takes long-term planning if it’s not there already. However, good fences make good neighbors, and require much less time to put in place.

  • Naked On The Run: A New Craze For Racing In The Nude
    Naked running events aren’t anything “new”. A number of naturist resorts in the U. S. have held such events for years (example). That’s also true in many other countries, such as England. Naked running events that aren’t necessarily serious competitions are also frequent. Naked running has been touted as promoting body acceptance. In case you’re interested, there’s even advice on how to prepare. So naked running’s not a “craze” – even though some journalists (or headline writers) use that term to show their disdain for naked activities.

    The naked race described in the article selected here was scheduled for a beach in France. The organizers expected only a small number of participants, but were “overwhelmed” by the actual interest, and they had to limit the event to 60 runners due to the small size of the beach. If anything, the response is an indication of current enthusiasm in France for naturism and naked activities. According to the writer, “Nudism in France has become increasingly popular.” A spokesperson for the Paris Association of Naturists even claimed that “At the end of the 19th century, France became the birthplace of naturism.” Although Germans might dispute that, the Association also claims “France is the top world destination for nudists.” The response to the race might be evidence of the claim.

  • WTF?! Naked Mountain Biking Explained
    An activity that is a little more unusual is naked mountain biking. “Perusing the local paper over a morning coffee, I nearly choked when I saw the first entry in the “weekend happenings” section: a naked mountain biking group ride.” That’s how Jason introduces his article. At first, he thought the idea “seemed so uncomfortable.” But a quick Internet search turned up the testimonial “This is awesome!” Consequently, “as a journalist, mountain biker, and father of a toddler who likes to do everything naked, I figured I needed to investigate.” After the experience he decided that “This is awesome,” and reports that “everyone seemed to have a great time.” The article concludes with a dozen “Lessons Learned From Riding Bikes Naked”. Some of these are things most naturists know (use sunscreen), while the rest are intended for serious mountain bikers.

  • Reflections on a Naturist Life: La Jenny, France 2019
    Dan Carlson’s a world traveler, in addition to his professional job. He has “often cited” La Jenny “as the best naturist place in the world,” and notes that he and some or all of his family have returned “to La Jenny at least a dozen times over the ensuing years.” Nevertheless, it’s been five years since his last visit. (Previous reports are here and here.) Dan considers his first visit in 1997 with his wife “as a pivotal event in our naked lives.” He has much more to say in this post, but the key insight may be this:
    as I read so many blog posts, tweets, and reddit musings from frustrated husbands and fathers who simply can’t find a way to sell naturism to their spouses and families, I can’t help but think, “That’s because you simply can’t find a place in close proximity to where you live to replicate the everyday normal naturist experience in France… or Croatia…or Spain.” Family naturism will never feel normal when you’re in an environment where it simply isn’t… NORMAL!

    In other words, the experience in just about all naturist camps and resorts in the U. S. is very different from what it is in non-naturist places of an otherwise similar sort. Especially for families (which are rather scarce in U. S. naturist places). In France (and Spain and Croatia), however, on a vacation there’s not much difference between the experience and the people inside and outside a naturist place, except for the nudity. In other respects, most details are just about the same in either case. That probably has a lot to do with how in France naturism, in general, and family naturism, in particular, is increasingly popular (see above article on naked running) – in sharp contrast with the U. S. situation.

  • Why French Families Go Massively for Naturism
    There’s more on French family naturism in this recent post from Nick and Lins. They’ve spent much of the past summer touring naturist French places, large and small. It’s arguably true that “Ever since the beginning of naturism, France has been the number one country in the world where people like to drop their clothes.” But although France “provided so many facilities for naturists, the large majority of the naturists enjoying those facilities were foreigners.” Now, however, “things have changed a lot. During our nude road trip through France we were not only surprised by the huge amount of French naturists, but also by who they are. Lots of the French visitors we met at naturist campings around France were young couples and young families.”

    What accounts for this change? The post argues that “Naturist resorts around the country understood that the blame falls partly on them. They’ve never really tried to change the image of naturism in the media. Until today. Around the country, naturist places are opening their doors for the press.” So, many more people in France itself are learning about the pleasures of real naturism. (Something similar is beginning to happen in the U. S., but significant positive effects have yet to be seen.) And why has this change in France been especially significant for young families? The post is somewhat vague on this question. But I’d submit that the answer can be found in the post above from Dan Carlson. Namely, there are so many more “normal” recreational activities at French naturist places than there are in the U. S. counterparts. Nick and Lins give a great example of this in another recent post here. They do discuss family naturism in this May post: Family Naturism: Let’s All Just Get Naked. (All pictures in that article are from a French source.)

  • No clothes? No problem for visitors at ‘naturist’ camp in Croatia
    Croatia is a country far less well known in the U. S. than France, but it once had a thriving naturist culture. According to the article, “As an early pioneer of nudism, Croatia’s idyllic Adriatic coast has a long and storied history of people stripping down to swim and commune with their surroundings in the naturist tradition.” Late in the past century there was a significant decline in naturist facilities: “By the mid-1980s, Croatia had 34 nudist camps, leading the market along with France and Germany. Today that number is down to nine.” Much of the decline can be attributed to the very unsettled political situation around 1990, followed by stiff competition from naturist opportunities in Spain. But Croatian naturism seems to be rebounding now, with the country building on its earlier naturist culture to actively attract naturist tourists to the country. One observer opines that “Boutique naturism with small camps or apartment settlements, privately-run, that could make a new offer, could be a renaissance and a market niche.” Also, one “nudist camp in Istria, Valalta, has recently invested in apartments, beaches, and attractions for children.” I surveyed the Croatian naturist scene earlier this year here.

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 9/22/19


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.

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 8/30/19

  • British Naturism campaign for women in naturism
    Women in Naturism – the relaunch
    BN, the national naturist organization of the UK, is not only concerned about the level of participation by women in naturism (only 30% of BN membership), but they appear to be making an effort to do something about it. BN member Donna Price has volunteered to help restart BN’s “Women in Naturism” campaign. The article mentions several possible approaches: “organising specific gatherings for women, speaking about Naturism in the media, encouraging Naturist women to bring friends to events or clubs, and participating in women’s groups on- and offline to spread the word”. Cited as a first step is: creating “a national network of Naturist women, with the aim of putting them in touch with others in their own areas or areas that they may be visiting.”

    This ought to be extremely important. Why? The most likely reason is that women seem to be considerably more reluctant than men to attend a naturist activity, nude beach, resort, or local club by themselves. And that’s probably because of the existing preponderance of men at any of those things. (Example) If a woman happens to have a significant other or good friend who is an active naturist and can accompany her, the gender imbalance is less of a problem. Otherwise, the imbalance is probably a major deterrent. So the best solution could be to enable women to get in touch easily with one or more current women naturists to go with them when exploring naturist opportunities.

    One assertion in the article is questionable: “It is a fact that Naturism appeals more intuitively to men than women.” Is there actual evidence for this “fact”? The gender imbalance isn’t good evidence, since there are a number of other possible reasons that the imbalance exists. One or more of these other reasons, such as negative body-image or fear of harassment, may explain the imbalance, even if naturism is equally appealing to women and men in the abstract.

  • Women’s feelings about naturism

    From a Woman’s Perspective: Nudism
    This is actually a September 2012 article from the Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA) website. It’s been reposted in various places since then. I’m including it here for its relevance to the preceding article. A large number of women comment on their naturist experience in a variety of categories:

    • My first time fears
    • Accepting my body
    • Single issues
    • Nudist families and their children
    • How to get started


    The comments aren’t entirely about women’s initial fears and difficulties of getting into naturism. But there is one theme that appears in the background of many of the comments. The theme can be expressed as concerns women have about their bodies, in terms of safety and personal dignity. Women worry about their safety from unwanted attention, harassment, or even physical harm. But they also worry that, without the “protection” of clothes, their bodies may be regarded as mere objects for male attention without concern for a woman’s personal dignity, and that they will be judged based on specious cultural standards of “attractiveness”. The fact, of course, is that the concerns are usually unwarranted when only “genuine” naturists are involved.

    The second of these worries, especially, is a lot more relevant for women than for men. Men also are often uncomfortable about their body’s appearance. However, in most existing societies women’s bodies are fetishized much more than men’s bodies. An example of this is the fact that there’s much less male nudity than female nudity in movies. In order for women to become comfortable with naturism it is, unfortunately, necessary to be able to immunize themselves against this cultural reality. This is easier to accomplish with organized assistance from women who’ve become at ease with naturism and their bodies. Naturist men should also help in this task, since doing it shouldn’t be solely by women. However, one suspects, naturist women have advantages in being able to handle it.

    Women shouldn’t be too quick to assume that male naturists, for voyeuristic reasons, want more women to participate. The truth is that both women and men are more likely to participate in naturism if there is more equal gender balance. This is especially important for encouraging more young people to become naturists. As it is now, the most prominent demographic at many nude beaches and naturist resorts is older men. That’s just not likely to lead to increasing popularity of naturism among young people of either sex.

  • Nudity in New Zealand
    How a beach becomes nude, and why people like getting naked in public
    So, why do people like getting naked in pubic – at least in New Zealand? In the opinion of the president of the Auckland Naturist Club, “I tend to think clothing-optional people are more friendly than the other people. There’s something about it, it’s hard to explain. When you have people around with no clothes on who are comfortable with it, they seem to be much more open and social – not in a provocative way – just in a friendly way.” This observation about naturists is pretty common, and it’s probably true. After all, people enjoy being naked because it’s relaxing, and who wants to be rude, argumentative, or confrontational when one is trying to relax – especially when naked?

    The answer to the other question – how does a beach in New Zealand become nude? – is much vaguer. Often it “just happens”. There aren’t any “official” nude beaches near Auckland, and probably not elsewhere in New Zealand. And it can happen because “There is no specific offence for being naked in public” – in the words of one police spokesperson. Clear illegality is present only if there is “indecency” or “offensive behavior”. This is also true in many US states and Western European countries. The problem is that these terms are vague and subjective. But for now, that seems the best that naturists can expect.

  • Body acceptance
    Baring all: Could naturism be the answer to body confidence?
    It’s encouraging to read positive stories about naturism in conventional print media, like newspaper and magazines. But they’re relatively rare and usually superficial, especially in the US. And they often seem to have a subtext like “Can you believe that sensible people really do this?” Or they contain neutral-sounding commentary, but the writer or reporter concludes, after having spent a few hours socially naked, with a sign-off such as “It was interesting, but I don’t think it’s for me.” The situation seems to be a little better in the UK. The article here, from a Scottish newspaper, is a good example. It’s based on interviews with two naturists and a photographer who makes nude portraits for women that are not in the “boudoir” style but instead are intended to demonstrate the subject’s body-confidence. The naturist interviewees don’t say anything that would surprise other experienced naturists. But their comments might be informative for people who have no idea what naturists actually believe.

  • Ever-changing attitudes to simple nudity (sort of)
    Naked Came the Strangers
    This article is a good example of the kind of story about nudity that’s common in the US. It’s somewhat of a pseudo-intellectual rumination that appeared (unsurprisingly) in the NY Times. The writer focuses on the type of nudity that appeared in the late 1960s at events like Woodstock. In some ways, a little progress has been made. For instance, “The women who would have been violating decency statutes by going topless at Woodstock in 1969 would now, in a majority of American states, be free to bare their nipples in public.” (While that may be correct in legal terms, the supposed freedom, obviously, is almost never exercised.) It’s not clear how much lasting effect Woodstock-like nudity has actually had, although public nudity does occur in limited circumstances, such as WNBR and occasional special events in New York City. (None of this is mentioned in the article.) The writer concludes, of course, with the sign-off that seems de rigueur in the US:

    I could never have been one of those naked people at Woodstock or Altamont or anywhere, really. … I went swimming with a group of pals who first removed their bathing suits and slung them, as was then the custom, around their necks. It did feel thrilling and slightly illicit and pleasurable, as everyone promised, that unfettered freedom of bobbing around naked in the ocean. But if I am being honest, it felt much better afterward to get dressed.

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 8/25/19

  • Naked podcasting and body acceptance
    What I’ve learned about body confidence from hosting almost 50 naked podcast recordings
    Two professional journalist women who were concerned about how many other women were also concerned with body acceptance issues decided in 2017 to start a series of podcasts to address the issues. So far over 50 podcasts have been done, with interviews of about 40 women. Both hosts and guests are naked for all interviews. A blurb for the series reads: “The podcast features experiences of disability, life changing illness, relationships, health, fitness and mental health. They are all gripping stories; often emotional, sometimes hilarious and always empowering.” One of the presenters, Kat, initially found the nudity difficult. But now she states “I feel very comfortable with my body and with nudity, so much so that I recently took part in a life drawing class where I was the model.”

  • Can nudity be an obsession?
    So, What’s the Deal with My Obsession with Nudity? It’s a Thing!
    Yes, it can. And that’s not necessarily bad. People are often obsessed – and possibly with good reason – with a number of things, such as their family, their job, their hobbies, the novel they’re trying to write, planning the “ultimate” vacation – and so on. Of course, there are ways that obsessions can be problematical – if they cause a person to neglect things that shouldn’t be neglected, if they are detrimental to anyone’s health or well being, if they are in pursuit of unachievable ends. So where does an obsession with nudity fit in? You shouldn’t ignore the possible problems, which exist because of our society’s irrational aversion to nudity. So you need to get a good understanding of what’s involved if you are seriously interested in social nudity. And in order to do that, you have to learn as much as you can about it first – which may mean an “obsessive” effort on your part, if only for a short time.

  • Naturism 101
    Tear Down the Walls
    There are many ways to get involved with social nudity. This article lists quite a few of them. You don’t need to take nearly all of these steps, however. Think of what the article offers is a menu of ways to experiment with naturism. Chances are that after you’ve tried two or three of these ideas you’ll be well on your way to being a real naturist. The actual problem is working up the courage to try any of the ideas. That’s why you may need to “obsessively” study what naturism is about, to begin with. Where do you find the information to study? It’s out there, and not very hard to find. But don’t expect to find it in your local library. Printed books and periodicals on naturism hardly exist, and if they did, most libraries wouldn’t have them. Don’t waste your time using a search engine for “naturism” or “nudism”. Most of the results will be porn-related, and not at all relevant. Don’t bother looking on Amazon, either. Most of what you can find there is shallow and unreliable – and not free, either. I should put together a post on some of the best online sources. But before getting around to that, perhaps the best suggestion I have is to check out some of the top naturist blogs you’ll find listed in the “Blogroll” in the right-hand column of this page. That alone should easily give you most of what you should know.

  • Think about it
    Why you should think about getting naked
    Simple answers to simple questions: “Just like you accept the look of a strangers face when you first meet, you accept the naked body of another human being. Competition and any need to fake something disappears. When you’re naked you are open and honest, confident, friendly and close to the fundamentals of life. Being more in-tune with reality brings you closer to your community and environment. Getting naked in the right environment simply feels good and does you good.”

  • Millenials and naturism
    That Day I Got My Millennial Friends into Naturism!
    This is a renamed article on Dan Carlson’s blog – already described here. It was originally titled “The Joys of Sharing Naturism.”. Some of the earlier articles by the same guest author (Addie) may also be of interest, because they represent the perspective of a young person who’s just discovered naturism:

Naturist theater

Many stage plays have been produced in which one or more actors are fully naked for large parts – or all – of the play. But most of these aren’t exactly “naturist”. They may have major themes like shame and embarrassment, sexuality, exhibitionism, prostitution, or something else entirely. Classic plays may also be performed with naked actors – such as Shakespeare plays. Some nudity may even be appropriate in a few Shakespeare plays, such as Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and The Tempest. (There was a major film version of the latter, titled Prospero’s Books, with abundant nudity.) But for present purposes we don’t consider any of these to be “naturist”.

Nevertheless, there are a few plays which really are “naturist” – but just a few. Probably the great majority of these have been performed only in experimental theaters, on college and university campuses, and similar venues. Most of these, I think, have never been published so that they may be used by other theater companies. Perhaps the only example that has been published and is in any sense “well known” is Barely Proper, by Tom Cushing. Cushing was an American playwright who had a modestly successful career with several plays being performed on Broadway between 1910 and 1930.

Barely Proper was published in 1931, but subtitled “An Unplayable Play” – because Cushing couldn’t imagine it being performed at the time, as most of the characters are always naked. A film with the same title was released in 1975, but with a different plot. The play was eventually performed on Broadway, in 1970, but got poor reviews. It’s not a literary masterpiece, but it is a competently written play – although not one that would especially appeal to non-naturists, and it’s not fully satisfying to naturists either.

Cushing may have hoped the play actually would be performed within a few years, since nudism had just begun to gain some traction in the U. S. in the early 1930s. Perhaps the play’s lack of success motivated its author to turn to other pursuits when he was in his early 50s, since he had no other plays that made it to Broadway after then.

The play’s weakness is that the plot is rather formulaic. Frieda Schmidt and Derek Leet are engaged to be married. Frieda is German and is an avid nudist, having been raised in a thoroughly nudist family. The family is wealthy and quite serious about nudism – even their maid works naked. Derek, however, is a prudish, stolid British twit. The stereotypes are obvious. What Frieda may have seen in Derek isn’t clear, but the couple’s devotion to each other is apparent.

Unfortunately, Frieda hasn’t been honest with either Derek or her own family. She hasn’t told her fiancé that she and the rest of her family are avid nudists. Derek learns this only when he visits Frieda’s family for the first time. The family tries to be understanding and educate Derek on the nature and virtues of nudism, but he is unpersuaded. The resulting denouement is unconvincing, and may have been the real reason the play was never successful. It’s possible that if the play were acted by professionals who could lend more depth and credibility to the characters it could be enjoyable. That, however, hasn’t been the case. The play is occasionally performed in nudist/naturist groups, but that’s for a rather forgiving audience.

Barely Proper has been reprinted in a small collection of naturist plays. Sadly, the other plays in this collection are much shorter, more formulaic, and do even less to show nudism/naturism in a positive light than Barely Proper. Don’t bother trying to find a copy, since it’s out of print and virtually unobtainable.

The remaining five plays in the collection have a lot in common. All of them are short, performable in about 15 to 30 minutes. A nude beach is the setting for each of them, entirely or in part. The plot in each case centers on a conflict between individuals who are either romantic couples, siblings, or (nominally) friends. Most of the characters have dysfunctional personalities in some way or other. And, predictably, part of the conflict revolves around a reluctance to get naked. Seriously. Naturists will be quite familiar with the latter problem. Non-naturists might just take the conflict for granted, assuming that hardly anyone would want to be naked with strangers around.

One good thing about the collection is the Introduction by the collection’s editor, Mark Storey, a well-known naturist. It’s mainly about the initial and later history of Barely Proper, in particular how it has been performed and interpreted by various nudist/naturist groups.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some plays in which the main characters are naturists, who are usually naked, but the plot centers on issues of more universal interest? Such plays would normalize nudity, while only intermittently alluding to the societal hang-ups that make a naked lifestyle difficult. The message of the plays might be, “See, you don’t need to wear clothes in order to experience – and overcome – the vicissitudes of human life.” Off the top of my head, I can think of a variety of plots. For instance, consider a middle-aged naturist couple who have adult and teenage children (who are also naturists). One of the parents is hospitalized with a serious illness. The spouse and children want to visit the ill parent daily, and must deal with the disapproval of their nudity by some members of the hospital staff.

There have recently been a few theatrical productions that have featured considerable nudity – including of the audience as well as the performers.

  • Parisians brave nippy temperatures to attend play – in the nude (1/23/19)
    Actors are known for baring their souls on stage. But the cast of a new French play went a step further — and so did their audience. The one-off performance of “Nu et Approuvé,” or “Naked and Approved,” which took place at the Palais des Glaces theater in Paris on Sunday, required all audience members, as well as the actors, to get naked.

  • Naked Comedy DISROBED Unveiled For Hollywood Fringe Festival (5/25/19)
    The producers of the immersive hit “Love the Body Positive” return to the Hollywood Fringe Theatre Festival this June with the full-length comedy “Disrobed: Why So Clothes-Minded?” The play has been adapted and updated by Steven Vlasak, the award-winning author of “Nights at the Algonquin Round Table” from the British naturist classic “Barely Proper” by Tom Cushing. It’s “Meet the Parents” with a twist: A bashful buttoned-up groom-to-be arrives to meet his fiancé’s family, only to discover that they’re all Naturists (Nudists), and for the festival performances so is the audience.
    Presumably, since this production is based on Barely Proper, the plot is quite similar. It would be more interesting, however, if it were altered in some important aspect. This could be done in various ways. The male and female roles could be reversed, with the former being the naturist and the latter the non-naturist. The final outcome of the plot could be reversed. Or, more dramatically, the setting could be a society in which nudity is normal, and wearing clothes (for instance, by a small religious sect) is outside the norm. Or any combination of these things. Many other variations are also possible.

It’s encouraging that naturists are still working at presenting their lifestyle on the stage. The problem, though, is that the performance is limited to an audience in which everyone is agreeable to being naked. It is, at this point in time, the general non-naturist public that needs to be “exposed” to the naturist world, in all its variety.

In order to appreciate the different sorts of plots that could be explored, I’d recommend checking out a couple of short videos, whose script could easily be adapted for a theater stage.

  • Nude Not
    The plot here is, refreshingly, quite different from that of Barely Proper. Even so, it plays with the tension between being naked and being clothed. It’s short and isn’t at all “realistic”. How different characters perceive “reality” is the crux. It would be interesting to develop this one into something longer, while retaining the same twist.

  • Guys 1st Naked Party
    (Note: This is on a porn site, but the video is very naturist and definitely not porn.)
    The plot here is actually quite similar to that of Barely Proper. There’s a romantic couple where the female is a naturist and the male is not. Everything comes to a head when the couple attends a naturist party hosted by the woman’s parents. One has to wonder why more dissimilar plots haven’t been tried, even simply making changes as suggested above. The problem is that we live in a society where everyday nudity is, unfortunately, very much not normal, so it’s difficult to come up with believable plots where nudity of the characters isn’t a major plot driver. However, the theater has a long tradition of playing fast and loose with “reality”. Just think of Waiting for Godot or many of Shakespeare’s plays.

Would anyone who actually has experience with theater and drama care to comment?

What individual naturists could do to promote naturism – and why

This is a continuation of my remarks on this article by LadyGod1va. Her key point is that there need “to be more activities that bring naturism and textile activities together as combined events, in other words, clothing optional, and held in public areas, not secluded or fenced or promoted as naturist/nude only event.” I think it’s a problem that naturists rely too much on existing organizations to make the arrangements. Events organized by local, regional, or national naturist organizations are fine. However, first, they are far too few. Second, they are attended almost entirely by people who are already naturists (at least in spirit). And, third, after decades, they have had little success in promoting naturism to the general public.

Think about how much more could be accomplished if naturists in large numbers took it upon themselves to organize events. So I’m suggesting that many events should be organized as small, personal gatherings at an individual naturist’s home or convenient local facilities (such as a room at a cooperative restaurant). People invited to such events should be friends (or friends of friends) of the organizer who are either current naturists or else known to be open-minded about naturism – perhaps already interested in knowing more about it.

At such events, naturists and non-naturists could get to know each other. Everyone would wear as much or as little as they wish – but hopefully some choose to be naked. Events need not be strictly about naturism. They could be mainly for general socializing. But the key thing is that non-naturists get to meet actual naturists and learn, in casual conversation, what naturism is all about. Obviously, this assumes that the event organizer has “come out” as a naturist to many or most of his or her friends – and isn’t shy about endorsing social nudity as a good thing.

Why would this work? Sociologists have long recognized that a person often chooses as a new friend someone who is a friend of a friend the person already has. That is, if A and C are both friends of B, A and C are more likely to become friends of each other. Why? Because both A and C like B and trust B’s judgment in selecting friends. A and C already have one thing in common, namely B. They may not have met before or even have (as far as they know) anything else in common. (Of course, they could have things in common, such as working at the same place.) If A and B are naturists, then if C (a non-naturist) decides to be friends with A, C automatically has another naturist as a friend – in addition to B. There are then two friends who may encourage C to try naturism.

If this needs to be clearer, let’s give them names. Assume that Alice and Bob are friends who are both naturists. Bob has another friend, Carol, who isn’t a naturist, but is open-minded and perhaps curious about naturism. So Bob arranges a party at his home, inviting both Alice and Carol, as well as other friends, including both naturists and non-naturists. During the evening Alice and Carol get to know each other, and they learn that they share some major interest, such as jogging. Quickly Alice and Carol become friends, jog together and share other activities frequently. Carol meets other naturists at the party too, and becomes more comfortable around naked people. She’s used to seeing Alice naked at home, and might, perhaps, visit a naturist resort or a nude beach with Alice. So there’s a real possibility Carol might try naturism herself.

Now imagine this scenario is repeated 1000s of time. Naturism could become “viral” and spread like a (benign) social epidemic. That is how real progress could be made. (A book, The Tipping Point, explains how that works.) It just requires that many more naturists are open with their friends about enjoying nudity and are willing to organize social events for both naturist and non-naturist friends together. This is the kind of event – in an ordinary, everyday setting – that can really normalize nudity in the eyes of non-naturists.

How many naturists our there have done something like this? Please comment if you have.

Recent articles on nudity and naturism, 8/02/19

How is it that many of the most perceptive articles on nudity and naturism are written by women? That, in any case, seems to be true of this group.

  • UK NudeFest
    Sun writer bares all as she goes uncovered at the UK’s biggest naturist festival NudeFest
    Amy, the writer, at first is rather nervous, but not resentful, about her assignment: “I am naked in front of a room of strangers. What must the person on the mat behind me be seeing of my nether regions?” As the day goes on, she begins to take the experience in stride: “At the rock-climbing, I slip into the harness. It serves as a sort of spreading vice and I almost certainly give an involuntary gynaecological showcase to those queuing at the bottom.” For some reason, Amy seems most concerned about her derriere: “I definitely hate my bum more as the day wobbles on, instead of feeling less self-conscious about it. (Pictures accompanying the article don’t suggest much reason for her concern.) At the end of the day, it doesn’t seem to have been an experience she couldn’t repeat: “I go home with no washing and no tan lines and wonder, could I get used to this?”

  • Hysteria over innocent child nudity
    When did my naked child become nude?
    This is another perfect example of how our society abhors nudity. People who object to innocent child nudity employ rationalizations such as that a child will be embarrassed when she’s older if there are pictures around of her naked as a toddler. Or that pedophiles will flock to the child’s home to do… something awful… to her. The first rationalization falls flat, because it’s based on the despicable idea many in our society have that nudity is just “wrong” and so must necessarily be embarrassing. The second rationalization fails, because no sensible parent would post a naked, but not sexualized, child’s picture to the Internet in a way that allows a predator to find her. As Katherine, the child’s mother and author of the article observes, “among the harsh rebukes, another thread emerged: nostalgia for simpler times when people didn’t “freak out” over naked children or worry about how much skin kids showed.” In other words, social attitudes towards nudity actually seem to be going backwards – much like attitudes in too many other areas as well.

  • Why can’t we all just get along?
    First time in mixed nudist & textile camp
    In the U. S. not long ago, most nudist camps and resorts generally required guests to be naked, at least when it wasn’t too cold. Now it is increasingly common for them to be clothing-optional, except around swimming pool and spa areas. But are there any textile camps that are at least tolerant of naturist campers? If any, they are rather few and far between. That’s not the case in naturist camps in various other countries. One example, provided by Naturism Girl, is the camp Kosirina in Croatia. It probably helps that in Croatia naturism has been considerably more successful than in the U. S. (See my post on Croatian naturism.) Consequently, guests are not under undue pressure to either wear, or not wear, any clothes. They can simply enjoy the camping experience either way. In the U. S. this is somewhat the case with clothing-optional beaches – except that many of those have separate areas for nudes and prudes. But how do things work when the areas aren’t separate, at either camps or beaches? Naturism Girl didn’t have any problems with the textiles at Kosirina: Textiles “all know before coming that the camp is mixed and therefore there will be naked people around. I have never heard someone commenting nudity. Or even notice someone staring improperly. Perhaps there was some more looking at the naked people, but I guess that was more from curiosity than anything else.”

  • LadyGod1va writes on where naturism should go from here
    Improving Naturism
    LadyGod1va is the nom de naturisme used by a long-time naturist blogger and WNBR organizer (who now, unfortunately, is too busy to do much of either). Here she reflects on how to make naturism more successful. Her key point is that there need “to be more activities that bring naturism and textile activities together as combined events, in other words, clothing optional, and held in public areas, not secluded or fenced or promoted as naturist/nude only event.” This is close to what Naturism Girl wrote about. LadyGod1va adds: “if we continue to organise nude events exclusively for those who are already naturists or will to go nude for the first time, we are not going to get to the point where nudity is acceptable as is in some parts of Europe, or a general acceptance.” Where I think it’s necessary to go further has to do with the “we” in “we organize” and the nature of the events themselves. I think the “we” must be “individual naturists” instead of established naturist organizations, and that the events are best organized as small, personal gatherings at an individual’s home or convenient local facilities (such as a room at a cooperating restaurant). See my article here for a fuller explanation.