Yesterday, I went with my family to Volcano Bay, Universal Studio’s newest waterpark in Orlando, FL, and what really surprised me was the number of thong bikinis on display. We’re not talking a few bold teenagers here and there. In nearly every crowd waiting for a slide, you could easily find someone, from a middle-aged woman to a mom pushing a stroller, with 80% of her butt-cheek exposed. Some of these swimsuits left very little to the imagination, so that from the rear, at least, these women looked almost naked. I remember when thongs were made illegal in Clearwater, at the beach nearest me, but now you can see them at a waterpark, with young children milling about, and nobody raises an eyebrow. When did this happen, I asked my wife? Oh yeah, it’s in fashion now, she told me. Such a matter-of-fact answer, of course, doesn’t explain HOW thongs came to be seen as everyday normal, but I really shouldn’t be surprised. As we have seen on TV, the gluteus maximus is no longer a part of the body we censor. We have moved up in the past hundred years, from the ankle and the knee to the thigh and the bare buttocks. All that remains is the female nipple (which should come next) and finally, the genitals. It’s really only a matter of time (though we may not see it in our lifetimes) before full frontal nudity becomes the norm, even at Volcano Bay. Which reminded me of this piece I wrote back in 2015 (updated for 2019).
In a word, NO.
It is a popular misconception that nudism is going the way of disco. These are the same people who believe the 60’s were one big Woodstock/orgy fest. But one historian argues (whose name escapes me), with a list of charts and graphs, that people were actually a lot more conservative during that time than we imagine. And all I could think while reading his book was Duh! What would be the point of a counter culture when what you’re countering is generally accepted? What followed after the sixties, however, was the much more permissible seventies, where premarital sex dropped off the list of taboos and drugs came into frequent use (today, marijuana is legal in most states). But modern nudism has been around long before the sixties, since the Germans exported it to America in the 1900s. The resort I visit, Lake Como in Land-O-Lakes, FL, was founded in the forties. The only thing we can say about nudism during the sixties was that, thanks to print media, and magazines that allowed for nudity, like Playboy, public awareness about the lifestyle grew dramatically. But just like everything else attributed to the decade, there was a lot less casual nudity going on than people imagine. The difference between now and then? Nudism is no longer news. It has fallen so far under the radar, in fact, that when Caliente, the largest clothing-optional resort in the country opened in Tampa, nobody noticed. Decades prior, there would have been police raids and neighbors protesting. But the lack of fanfare is precisely what nudists have long been striving for. Nobody wants to be counter-culture forever, unless you’re a rock band looking to grab headlines. Nowadays, nudism is so commonplace, you can visit any number of travel sites to book a “clothing optional” vacation, or “nakation.”
According to Forbes magazine,
The nude travel business, while skimpy on clothes, is covering itself with profits. The Kissimmee, Fla.-based American Association for Nude Recreation estimates that nude travel is a $400 million global industry–up from $300 million in 2001.
I was first introduced to nudism on the Greek islands in the nineties. Back then, the only option for going nude was at the beach. Today, three new resorts have opened up, Vritomartis Naturist on Crete being the most popular. Clothing optional venues have been popping up all over the world, in fact, from Mexico to the Caribbean to Thailand, each larger and more luxurious than the last. Castaway Travel even offers nude cruises, something that would not have seemed possible two decades ago.
Despite all of this commercialization, it is important to note that nudism does not and should not = venues. This would be like measuring acceptance of homosexuality by how many gay bars have opened. First and foremost, nudism is a social movement, not a marketing venture. Some people feel that resorts are antithetical to the movement (I know I do), that we should not have to hide behind concrete walls, far from other people, to live the way we want. The purpose of nudism is to change attitudes toward the human body, to rid the world of harmful, sexist, outdated taboos. In such a world, “clothing-optional” would be redundant. This is one reason why, in recent years, younger people have been moving away from organized nudism.
Source: The Writers Disease
Original publication 14 October 2019
Posted on NatCorn 18th October 2019
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.