People who live a naturist lifestyle bare all
I firmly believe that if you want to experience euphoria sans drugs, all you have to do is take off your bra after a long workday. And post-shower, you can often find me wrestling my freshly-lotioned legs into a pair of jeans, muttering questions like, “Why can’t I just live my life naked?” The thing is, I can. And some people do. Nudists and naturists participate in plenty of normal activities like swimming, camping, and karaoke without clothes. The degrees of nudity vary—some people are naked pretty much all the time, while others reserve it for social events every so often. But to hear them tell it, life is much better in the nude.
While you may have heard of nudists, chances are you’re a little less familiar with naturists. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, some people believe certain nuances classify them as two different bodies. “We define nudism as being more about the actual nudity, while naturism has more of a philosophy behind it,” Felicity Jones, 27, a resident of Long Island City, N.Y. and co-founder of Young Naturists America (YNA, and like many other links in this story, that one’s potentially NSFW), tells SELF. “It’s about accepting people as they are, and also promoting the values of respecting other people and the environment.” Of course, most naturists can’t be naked all the time, because laws exist and being naked in jail doesn’t sound particularly comfortable. But when they can, they do, and they enjoy the hell out of it.
Let’s clear one thing up: Naturism’s not about sex.
Sometimes it’s easiest to define naturism by describing what it’s not. “A lot of people imagine that it’s this amped up sexual environment, like people are having sex in the open or having orgies,” says Felicity. “It’s not like that at all. There’s a time and place for everything,” she says, while noting that YNA has “very rarely” had to kick people out of events because they’re acting inappropriately.
Stateside nudism and naturism have their roots in the American Association for Nude Recreation, which was founded in 1931. With an spotlight on “wholesome nude family recreation,” the organization’s mission is “to advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment,” according to their website. Similar institutions cropped up after, like The Naturist Society, which was founded in 1980.
If you’re like, wait, record scratch, people are advocating me getting naked with my family…?, you’re not alone. But as someone who grew up in a home where bodies weren’t a thing to be hidden—we weren’t naturists by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn’t taught to fear or shame nudity—I can see why this is worthwhile. So can Felicity, who grew up with a nudity-embracing family in New Jersey and laughingly calls herself a “third-generation naturist.” She co-founded YNA in 2010, and to date, they have around 400 members in the States and internationally. In addition to raising awareness about naturism, they put on events like the nude, public Bodypainting Day this coming July 9 in New York and Amsterdam, which they’re currently raising funds for on Kickstarter.
Misconceptions about the naturist lifestyle can have far-reaching implications. “When I post naked photos of myself online, I have to deal with sexual harassment, dick pics, and people assuming that because I’m naked I must be looking for sex,” says Felicity. And while running YNA is her full-time job, her partner and co-founder works in sales. “His boss and coworkers all know [he’s a naturist], but his boss wasn’t comfortable with him using his real name because people will Google before doing business with him,” she says. Even though naturism’s intentions are innocent, it can be hard for people to see it that way.
Original publication 2 May, 2016
Posted on NatCorn 4 weeks ago
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.