The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourselfMark Twain
Yes, I am a nudist! Or naturist, as I prefer to call myself. I’ve been beating around the bush regarding this issue, hinted at it here and there, in articles and in my fiction, and to many of my astute readers this may come as no surprise. So here it is, my official “coming out” so to speak, or maybe “my undressing” is a better metaphor. Why else would I have dedicated the past ten years of my life to a fantasy novel with nudist/naturist heroes? I have been a nudist since I was twelve years old, from the time I visited the Cycladic Islands of Greece, where bathing suits were often too formal. I spent every summer on those beaches, and it was not long before I realized life is better without clothes, even while doing algebra.
Back home in the U.S., I explored secluded woods the way nature intended, and whenever the parents were away, the clothes came off stayed off! But most of my friends and family would never guess that I spend most of my time in the buff. For decades, I’ve kept this a secret, fretting over how people would react, because there are too many misconceptions and negative stereotypes regarding nudism. But society is changing. With the numerous scandals involving the Catholic Church, the battle for gay rights within Protestant denominations, and continued terrorist acts associated with Islam, organized religion is losing its moral authority. At the same time, the advent of social media has delivered an explosion of understanding and tolerance. People once afraid to ask about different lifestyles can now find like minded individuals from around the globe. Homosexuality, an issue most people feared to discuss in the 80’s, is rapidly gaining popular support, and I have no doubt that in ten or twenty years, society will accept gay marriage as they have interracial couples. While nudism is not nearly as stigmatized in the public eye as is the LGBT community, I can identify with the need to hide oneself from scrutiny. But I find courage in the new society that is dawning, a society where personal identity will be an inalienable right, where people, including those who prefer not to wear clothes, will be afforded the same respect as those of differing faith and sexual orientation.
First, let me address what naturism is not. It is most definitely not about sex. My mores are as conservative as can be. I believe the best arrangement for lovers is post-marital sex, because there are far too many unwanted pregnancies and single parents in this country. Of course, it’s hard to argue that that is a realistic goal, but I’ve always followed one simple rule: sleep with someone you love. A couple can better raise a child, even if the child came about by accident. So for me, nudism/naturism has nothing to do with sex. You might find this difficult to believe if you’ve been raised, like most people, to equate the human body with intercourse. You might suspect us to be closet perverts. But from a naturist point of view, textiles (non-naturists) are the sex crazed weirdos. Think about it this way, the textile philosophy is this: every man, woman and child must be clothed at all times because, if not, we’ll all want to have sex with one another. A naturist, on the other hand, looks at a body sans apparel and simply sees another human being. We have no fear of accidentally seeing our siblings or friends in the shower or changing booth. Desire for fornication does not overwhelm our judgment. Don’t believe me? In college, I spent two days at a resort, fully naked with a girl from New Jersey. We ate naked; we played pool volleyball naked; we played scrabble naked, and guess what? No sex. We didn’t even kiss. Why? Because I hardly knew her. She was going back home the following day and neither of us wanted a meaningless fling. In short, naturism is innocent!
On the other hand, naturists are not sexless robots. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception even among naturist communities. Nudists/naturists have been fighting the idea that nudity = sex mainly because sex was, for the past century, taboo outside of marriage. But public mores have moved on. Society no longer demonizes fornication and even the “one-night stand” has lost its stigma. I have the impression that if nudism was about sex, it might actually gain popularity. The truth is, nudists, like everyone else, appreciate the human body for its beauty and yes, its sex appeal. Does this contradict my earlier paragraph? No. Human nature is complex. These days, sex appeal is everywhere, from sports cars to clothing to movies. Needless to say, Avatar would have been far less appealing had the Navi been giant blue blobs. In Avengers, Black Widow would not have been as popular without her ass-hugging tights. Even tutus and bikinis are designed with sex appeal in mind. Does this equate going to the beach with visiting a porn shop? Of course not. Naturists appreciate the human body in the same way a man might enjoy seeing an attractive girl in a bikini, yet, just like at the beach, there is little fear at a naturist resort that an orgy will break out. We’re human beings, after all, not animals.
Thirdly, nudism/naturism has nothing to do with gawking at people. A visit to any resort will almost instantly dismiss this myth, because seeing hundreds of naked people of all shapes and sizes, from toddlers to grandmothers, is anything but arousing. And if gawking is something you crave, there are specific places set aside for that. After my second trip to a strip club, I was disgusted and have never gone again.
Fourthly, naturists are not weird. Sure, we’re in the minority, but we’re not impractical. Every time a TV show tries to make fun of us, they seem to have a hard time keeping the joke going, or they find some crazy person that doesn’t represent the movement at all. Nudists/naturists are just “too normal” for TV. If it’s cold, we put on clothes. If it’s hot, we take them off. If we’re in a public place, like a restaurant or a grocery store, we dress appropriately. Would I prefer to live naked 24/7? Certainly! But we do not live in the Amazon, or in Ilmarinen, and I no more wish to go to Carrabbas naked than anyone in a bathing suit. There is a proper time and place for everything.
Now to address a bit of absurdity: naturists/nudists do not live in colonies. What, exactly, is a nudist colony? We’re not a nation of people. We can’t show up on some distant shore to plant a flag for our people. In reality, nudists/naturists are everywhere. If you don’t immediately dress after taking a shower, you might be a nudist yourself. People also think we like to move in circles. They say we “parade” around in the nude, like we’re putting ourselves on display. We are equated to flashers, to attention grabbers, or strippers. They think we want to shock and offend people with our genitals. But nothing could be further from the truth. Visit any clothing optional beach and you will always find the naked people at the very far end, often in hiding. Typically, we get the worst parts of the coast, with the rocks and the urchins and the seaweed, because we do not want to offend anyone or draw attention to ourselves.
Source: Being and Nakedness
Original publication 29 October, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 28th April 2021
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