Grassroots naturism I

People who’ve already had positive experiences with social nudity – even something as simple as visiting a clothing optional beach or being naked with others in a backyard swimming pool – may start to think about how they might find other opportunities for it. The chances are they haven’t seen the term “naturist” and may confuse it with “naturalist”. But they’re certainly familiar with the term “nudist”, though without a clear idea of what that actually is. (I’ll use just the term “naturist” here, as there’s little consensus on the distinction.)

In this post I want to describe a process that could lead to many more people understanding what “naturism” is – and perhaps even become personally involved in it. I’ll use the term “grassroots naturism” to refer to this idea. The term certainly isn’t my invention. It has been used by The Naturist Society (TNS), though not frequently, and I’ll discuss that in another post.

The idea of “grassroots” organizing in general – not just as applied to naturism – deinitely isn’t a recent one. It goes back centuries, when certain individuals in a community felt a need to recruit others who shared beliefs that they felt deserved to be communicated more widely in their community in order to gain increased respect from the community, and usually to advocate for social changes.

More recent examples include things like labor unions, the women’s suffrage movement, tolerance for nontraditional lifestyles, and so on. At times in the past century nascent efforts of this kind have arisen to advocate in favor of naturism and to provide opportunities for individuals who enjoy social nudity to organize naturist activities.

The majority of grassroots organizing has had the objective of influencing social or political policies. On many occasions, naturists have also gone this route – for instance in order to promote clothing optional use of a beach. As a byproduct of such activity, the people who become involved in it become acquainted with each other and recognize their activity as an opportunity for socializing together to enjoy the interests they have in common.

It’s quite possible that this byproduct may become the primary objective of the organization. For instance, people interested in amateur sports like softball or soccer may organize to persuade their community to develop a park area that can be used for their sport (as well as different activities of interest to others in the community). Once that objective is achieved, the focus of the organization may become primarily to engage together in their particular sport.

The parallel of this example with naturism should be apparent. While it may be unrealistic in most communities to have public areas designated for clothing optional use, there is a wide range of activities that naturists can enjoy on private property and in individuals’ homes. So the primary purpose of organizing need not be changing opinions in the general community in order to change specific policies. Instead, the purpose may simply be to make contacts with others in the community who may be interested in non-sexual social nudity in order to plan and arrange for suitable activities. Doing that will usually require enlightening open-minded people of the pleasures of social nudity, but the ultimate purpose is to make naturist activities more readily available to anyone who might enjoy them.

There are plenty of naturist activities that may be facilitated. For example:

  • All kinds of parties at individual homes: dinner parties, costume parties, body painting parties, birthday parties, etc.
  • Group hiking and camping trips (in suitable places)
  • Use of swimming pools or other recreational facilities owned by group members
  • Group visits to established naturist clubs and resorts or clothing optional beaches
  • Joint activities with similar naturist groups in nearby communities
  • Group lunches and dinners at local restaurants willing to provide them (in private spaces)
  • Making arrangements (if possible) for clothing optional events at nearby places, such as museums, art galleries, theaters, tourist attractions, etc.
  • Work days helping other group members with gardening work on their property

And anything else group members can think of for enjoying non-sexual social nudity.

So how would this actually work? The first step would be for a small group of perhaps just two or three naturists who know each other and live near each other to prioritize finding open-minded people among their friends and relatives, and make a personal effort to educate them about social nudity and invite them to try it. The effort could conceivably even start with a single person (or family). But there’s no “group” until additional people get involved.

This doesn’t mean the initial people need to tell everyone they know that they’re naturists. Instead, it means educating only other people who are most likely to be receptive to the idea of naturism. Members of the immediate families should, of course, probably be at least tolerant of naturism – that’s just fair to them. Ideally, the initial people should have overcome feelings of shame or embarrassment on account of their interest in social nudity, because at some point it might be difficult to avoid others learning about it.

Members of the initial group should be prepared to do more than just talk to other people about naturism. When they find others who seem to have some interest in the idea, they should invite the others into their homes to demonstrate the naturist lifestyle. In case others have been more than casual acquaintances, there shouldn’t be any hesitation to be naked when they visit. It’s important to set a good example and demonstrate there’s no need to feel any shame or embarrassment about nudity. But others shouldn’t be pressured to become naturists themselves. Let them get used to the idea at their own pace – if at all.

Eventually, the initial group should host gatherings for others, in which some who choose to can be naked in a “safe” environment. The next step is to encourage others who become involved to start spreading the word themselves. The objective is to have regular naturist get-togethers in the local area, at the homes of whoever wants to help. And also, begin having activities, such as group trips to naturist resorts or camping places, and other ideas suggested above.

This process should be a “viral” thing, but one that spreads via personal contacts instead of using the Internet. It will require lots of personal effort by people who want naturism to succeed. Anyone who wants to become more involved in naturism should ask themselves: Why should I remain limited to non-naturist social activities, when I could be spending some of that time in naturist activities I organize myself?

The solution is to take the initiative to identify other people one already knows and who are potentially open-minded enough to become interested in naturism. Don’t expect others to make the effort for you. Be low-key about it, but try to recommend naturism to others. Personal recommendations between friends are known to be a far, far better way than mass advertising to promote many kinds of products and ideas.

In a later post I’ll try to add more details on how this kind of “grassroots naturism” could work.

Dean Fidelman’s Stone Nudes

Since I just posted about nude charity calendars, I’m reminded of another very important nude calendar. Dean Fidelman is a very talented photographer who, every year since 1999, has produced calendars featuring models (mostly amateur and female, but some males) who are also skilled rock climbers. Each month showcases one of the photographer’s stunning black-and-white images. The models demonstrate their skill fully naked – almost always barefoot too. “Impressive” doesn’t adequately describe either the photos or the climbers.

As the article from Outside explains, no calendars beyond 2019 are planned.

The 2019 Stone Nude Calendar Will Be the Last

To keep the small-run calendar project afloat, the photographer washed dishes in Argentine Patagonia and cleaned carpets in Yosemite Valley. But he never made money on it, and now he’s decided it’s finally time to call it quits.

People, like Fidelman and his models, who are serious about both art and the great outdoors, typically don’t place financial motives above what they love doing. The latter comes first. But they have other things they want to do with their lives too. There comes a time to move on. To everything there is a season….

You may regret it if you don’t spend a little under $30 (including s/h) to get the 2019 calendar.

Links:

Why are calendars featuring naked people such a fad in Britain?

It’s been a new year for a few weeks now, so of course people have needed new calendars for their walls. Most opt for calendars with mountains or other natural scenery, or cute cats and dogs. But in merrie olde England there appears to be a not insignificant market for calendars featuring naked – usually young – people of both sexes.

These are not, mind you, the salacious pin-up or Pirelli sort of calendars of yore. Even Pirelli has gone in the direction of high “art”, so far from the style that featured look-alikes of Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot (who was born in 1934 and is still alive, by the way).

And don’t get the wrong idea. The new crop of “nude calendars” is so, so positively non-sexual. Every single (carefully gender-balanced) person in these calendars somehow contrives to prevent so much as a single penis or female nipple from being visible, in spite of almost everyone being stark naked (except, perhaps, for shoes or fancy boots of some sort or other). In compensation, bare butts abound. To use the curiously self-contradictory phrase that often crops up in stories about the phenomenon, everyone tries carefully “cover” or “preserve” their “modesty”. (The British have such a way with words.)

According to the stories, nearly everyone who modeled for the calendar pictures greatly enjoyed the experience. However, many are said to have been “extremely nervous” with the idea initially. Sadly, purchasers of these calendars aren’t permitted to see quite as much as the models and photographers themselves saw.

All this is quite in keeping with the overall purpose that buyers of these calendars are encouraged to assume – namely, to benefit some worthy charity or other. The beneficiary may be some genuinely deserving social cause – or, frequently, the alma mater or sports team of the calendar models.

This sort of thing isn’t new and original at all, of course. There’s even a Wikipedia article on the nude calendar topic. The article notes that

The first nude charity calendar was made by a group of middle aged Englishwomen, members of a local branch of the Women’s Institute, who were posing nude to raise funds for Leukaemia Research. The calendar was released in 1999, and became an international sensation, and also inspired the movie Calendar Girls.

The article also provides a useful list of some of the more noteworthy examples of the genre.

So 2019 is the 20th anniversary of this phenomenon. Fittingly, there has been a bumper crop of offerings to commemorate the original event. You’ll note that all of them are from England or Australia – remnants of Britain’s tattered Empire. Curiously, although in the past there have been a few examples from Canada and the U. S., I haven’t seen a single one this time. One hesitates to speculate on what might be the reason for this.

Here are stories I’ve come across on the 2019 calendars. No doubt some have been missed. I’ve tried to provide suitable links, in case you’re interested in purchasing any of these.

University of Bristol

The nude calendar story that seems to have managed to garner the most, um, coverage is from the University of Bristol.

To order the calendar, check here

Saucy students strip off for Bristol University naked Christmas calendar

THESE cheeky students have ditched their studying to strip off for their 2019 charity calendar.

Incredible pictures show students from 12 societies at the University of Bristol snapped in the nude. …

The calendar was organised by the University of Bristol’s Raising and Giving (RAG) society with proceeds going to three local charities.

“Incredible”? Only, I suppose, to Brits who’ve been asleep for the past 20 years. Use of such language, along with capitalization and words like “saucy”, “cheeky”, “risqué”, “raunchy”, “naughty”, “racy” is a good clue that the story is from one of Britain’s tabloids popular with the lower classes, The Sun in this case. Another phrase these tabloid articles use a lot is “bare all”. In fact, that’s rather inaccurate. The folks who pose for these things go to fairly absurd lengths not to show all that they’ve got.

Many photos are included in the story. They’re somewhat imaginative, perhaps a little cheesy – but hardly “raunchy”, “risqué”, or even “saucy”.

Bristol bares all! Brave university students from 12 different societies strip naked for a VERY risque charity calendar

This story’s from the Daily Mail, a more conventional newspaper, albeit one still tabloidish. More capitalization, plus the titillating “risqué” and “bares all”. (Not literally “all”, unfortunately.)

University students strip naked for raunchy charity calendar

This is from the Mirror, another UK tabloid. Readers are informed that “the students have covered their modesty with relevant society objects, such as frisbees and books” – to caution that the pictures might be considered NSFW. After all, they’re “raunchy” (hardly).

Why naked people were ‘rock climbing’ in Bristol’s Avon Gorge

This, from BristolLive, website of the Bristol Post newspaper, gives some interesting backstory related to the calendar project. The relevance, however, isn’t entirely evident.

Cambridge University

Cambridge University students strip off for a VERY daring naked charity calendar – featuring dancers doing the splits and lacrosse players baring all in the library

To order the calendar, check here

The Daily Mail, which seems especially fond of the topic, informs us that “The daring [ed: not] photographs feature students from the university’s netball, swimming and lacrosse teams using strategically placed props to preserve their modesty.” So again there’s the models’ concern to about their “modesty”, along with the usual retinue of adjectives. (Such as “racy”.)

This one appears to be the top choice among the current crop of calendars, as its photography is imaginative and of high quality. After all, Cambridge U. is a pretty classy place. For example:

But one wonders how normal it is for otherwise naked women to walk around barefoot with athletic shoes modestly covering their breasts:

I bet you never saw that very often at your college. It’s a crazy world now.

Royal Veterinary College, London

Student vets strip naked for a VERY cheeky charity calendar – and use rabbits, sheep and CHICKENS to cover their modesty

Although the Royal Veterinary College doesn’t play in the same league as Cambridge U., their calendar might deserve a credible second place in the 2019 nude calendar play-offs. To be sure, instead of running shoes they employ “rabbits, sheep, and CHICKENS to cover their modesty”. (Couldn’t they find any “RABBITS” or “SHEEP”?)

And, according to the Daily Mail (again), they also sometimes “don scarves and wellington boots”. At least they wear the boots on their feet instead of their breasts. Seems much more normal. (Or is it considered “VERY cheeky”. Leave anything “chic” to the Cantabrigians. The latter do have “dons” too, however.)

Naughty vets cover private parts with CHICKENS as they strip for photoshoot

The Daily Star is yet another British tabloid for the lower classes. The article has nothing much to add except for additional adjectives like “naughty”. But it does say that “The Vets In Action calendar is priced at £10 and is available from eBay under the title RVC 2019 Naked Calendar.”

Iwade, Kent

Entire Kent VILLAGE strips off for a saucy advent calendar to raise money for charity – and they say it’s ‘brought the community together’

According to the Daily Mail (again!), even common village folks who never matriculated at so much as a veterinary college can also do nude charity calendars.

An entire Kent village has stripped off for a racy festive calendar in a bid to raise money for charity.

Almost every business in Iwade, Sittinghbourne signed up to take part, with dozens of locals baring all, either at work or enjoying their favourite pastimes.

Doubtlessly, too, the project really did bring the community together. Nudity has a way of doing that. (And we can assume this wasn’t meant in reference to the kind of favorite pastime usually associated with nudity.)

What sort of charities will this calendar assist? Well, for one we’re told that some “money will go towards a new toilet block at the local church.” Does that get a lot of use in response to the pastor’s sermons? The article doesn’t say.

In any case, from the pictures it’s apparent that the villagers also wear boots, high heels, or running shoes (as appropriate in their various callings) whilst naked. And some use hats, sacks of manure, or chainsaws to cover their modesty.

To order the calendar, check the calendar website or its Facebook page.

Wales

Skinny Dipping Charity Calendar

Wales is favored with a considerable amount of sea coast, so the Welsh calendar has a very naturist theme: skinny dipping. (It’s not the sunny Mediterranean, but whatever.) Appropriately enough, the report here is courtesy of British Naturism.

The natatory theme is very convenient, as being in water makes it easy for the doughty models to preserve their modesty. Regrettably, on the calendar website we find this plea: “Please buy a copy or 3 otherwise we will feel ugly & undervalued – the shame will demoralise us & we will lose our sense of purpose. Roughly translating as – we will feel foolish.” Hopefully that’s a tongue-in-cheek appeal to buy lots of calendars, rather than an expression of ambivalence towards the idea of skinny dipping.

Dean Newlyn Young Farmers

Dean Newlyn Young Farmers launch nude calendar

This is our only example of a 2019 nude calendar that’s not from Shakespeare’s sceptered isle – but instead from a former British colony on the other side of the globe. Yes, Australia, the place that the throne of kings wrested from its inhabitants to develop as a penal colony. The two countries even now have more in common than a language – nude charity calendars, specifically.

The organization behind the calendar is called The Naked Farmer. Its young founder, Ben, was recently inspired to utilize nudity as a way to dramatize the mental health problems of farmers. He writes that his idea

could actually support people in the agricultural industry who suffer from mental health issues. Statistics prove that the suicide rate amongst farmers is almost double than any other industry and I’m passionate about changing these stats.

Naturally, as a member of his generation, Ben implemented his idea by starting an Instagram account – that features naked young farm folks (both male and female) engaged in many activities, including farm work. A nude charity calendar was a very natural byproduct of that initiative.

Because it’s Instagram, there’s no revealing frontal nudity, but the photos look more authentic and less contrived than what’s found in most other calendars. Operating heavy farm equipment naked, for example. They could almost make a bored young city dweller want to give up on the Ubers and lattes and look for opportunities to work naked on a farm in Australia.

This could – should – be the model for many other nude calendars of worthwhile causes.

The calendar was listed for sale here, but apparently is now sold out. However, there’s other merchandise for purchase, if you’re interested.

Hotshots of Bowls

Naked 2019 bowls calendar on sale as top players bare all for incredible charity cause

In Brit-speak, “bowls” is not like American bowling but rather, according to Wikipedia, a sport usually played outdoors on grass “bowling greens” and “in which the objective is to roll biased balls so that they stop close to a smaller ball.” Sounds like a thrilling spectator sport, no? Combining it with nudity can only help.

Seems like a good game in which women can compete on an even playing field with men. The pictures from the calendar document that supposition. Since the article is from the Mirror tabloid, it’s not surprising to encounter words like “incredible” and “bare all” (which, of course, don’t quite accurately accord with reality). Still, no small effort must have been required to produce the calendar, as it features “almost 60 players [who] have stripped off for the special calendar which is raising funds” for one young player who developed leukemia.

Bowlers Bare All For The Hot Shots Of Bowls Charity Calendar

More information, from the source.

To order the calendar, check here (UK delivery only).

The Naked Rugby Players

Here’s another sports-themed nude charity calendar. According to their website, the group supports “six inclusive teams and the balls to cancer charity”. Whatever that means, exactly. Perhaps it refers to their objective described by a spokesman (in the article cited below) this way: “I hope this calendar empowers guys to check their packages more often and to feel comfortable talking about male cancers.”

The calendar is for 2019, but it’s a repeat, having been reported in 2017 here: Plaistow gay rugby club strip naked for calendar to tackle cancer

The article relates that “Seven ‘very handsome’ members of the Kings Cross Steelers… got starkers” for the calendar. The photographer is quoted saying “he was stunned when he turned up to shoot the Newham players as every one looked like Hollywood hearthrob Tom Cruise.” The photo for September in the 2017 calendar was “a more informal shot with one player holding a hose pipe in the shower in front of his laughing team mates.” And according to the photographer, the players “were a bit stiff at first.”

To order the calendar, check here.

Naturist Cleaners

Here’s a nude calendar on a very different theme. I expect to write more about this in another post, so I’ll be a little brief here. “Naturist Cleaners” is just what it sounds like: an agency for professional house cleaners who hire out to clean homes – and who work naked. This is an actual business in England, and apparently it’s quite legitimate and on the level.

The Naturist Cleaners website states:

Who says cleaning has to be a chore? Our naked cleaning service strips everything away and gets back to nature – for a spotless home and a cleaning service with a difference.

Naturist Cleaners are London-based and cover the entirety of the UK. Ultimately our service goes beyond a sparkling countertop and faultless floor – to ensure our naturist cleaners make you feel amazing about yourself.

Details about their calendar are here

Naked surfing

In late November Australian surfer Felicity Palmateer got a lot of press coverage (cough, cough) with an announcement of a four-minute (!) film of herself surfing naked. Some details in this article:

Australian big wave surfer Felicity Palmateer to release naked surf film

Australian big wave surfer Felicity Palmateer is set to make massive waves with her next project and has released a titillating teaser to the masses.
The 15-second teaser features stylised shots of the 26-year-old and is the first stage of her latest art project called ‘Skin Deep’, with the full four-minute film set to be released next week.
It’s been a long time coming with the project taking three years to complete and explores her interpretation of being free.
“Everyone has insecurities, I’ve had my own issues of self-doubt,” she told The Sunday Telegraph about the project.
“It was kind of cathartic. I feel so much more empowered now I have done this. I felt really free and it was wonderful.”

Let’s be honest here. The temptation is to be slightly skeptical of the notion that Felicity had significant “issues of self-doubt” about being naked to demonstrate her obvious athletic talent. One has to wonder how it could have taken three years to complete a four-minute “art project”. And what’s so novel about the idea of using nudity to symbolize the idea of “being free”?

But let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s entirely understandable that top athletes are proud of their talents. For athletes in major team sports like soccer or baseball, media attention is almost guaranteed. But for solo, non-competitive sports like surfing, it takes a little something extra to get attention. As naturists, we should be grateful that Felicity overcame whatever anxiety she may initially have felt about going naked to demonstrate her skill. Nobody without her skill could possibly have pulled this off on the basis of nudity alone.

More links:

Recent naturist news (12/28/18)