What is naturism?
Naturism may take a number of forms. It may be practiced individually, within a family, socially, or in public. Additionally, there is also militant naturism, including campaigning, and extreme naturism is sometimes considered a separate category.
a way of life in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment. Several other terms (“social nudity”, “public nudity”, “skinny dipping”, “sunning”, and “clothes-free”) have been proposed as alternative terms for naturism, but none has found the same widespread public acceptance as the older terms “naturism” and (in much of the United States) “nudism”.
A United States study by Alfred Kinsey (1948–1953) found that 75% of the participants stated that there was never nudity in the home when they were growing up, 5% of the participants said that there was “seldom” nudity in the home, 3% said “often”, and 17% said that it was “usual”. The study found that there was no significant difference between what was reported by men and by women with respect to a frequency of nudity in the home.
Newbies guide to nudism: Introduction to nudism.
Whether you are new to nudism and keen to learn more about the culture or someone thinking about giving it a go but still looking for a bit more information before making your decision, this article series is being written with you in mind.
Each week, until the series is completed a new article focusing on a different aspect of nudism, will be published. Reading this series will allow you to learn what authentic nudism is all about, how to become a nudist if you haven’t already, what to expect when interacting with other nudists, and just as importantly what they will expect from you. You will learn where to go to meet and socialize with other nudists, be exposed to the basic rules of etiquette observed in social nudity settings, and receive tips that will help you enter the nudist lifestyle with confidence.
The information presented in this series will be factual, not just based just on personal opinions or perspectives. Rest assured that this series is not my personal interpretation of nudism. Along with some information based on relevant personal experiences and observations, there will also be plenty of information included that has been gleaned from other authoritative sources. While there is plenty of room in nudist culture for individual expression, authentic nudism requires adherence to some foundational philosophies and ethical considerations that have under-girded the culture since the movement began.
Unfortunately, there are today individuals and groups that identify as nudists who actively seek to pervert nudism by representing the lifestyle as something it is not and never has been. They do so in the interest of furthering their own personal agendas. Mastering the basic foundational philosophies and ethical truths of historical, traditional nudism will prepare you to identify these individuals and groups and avoid them if traditional nudism is what you are interested in experiencing. Let’s begin.
Just what is nudism? In answering that question the definition printed at the beginning from Encyclopædia Britannica Online is a good place to start.
Nudism (or naturism as some prefer to call it) succinctly put is the practice of going without clothing – going nude. There is, however, a lot more to being a nudist than simply taking your clothes off either on your own or in a social setting. Before getting into that let’s first clear up any confusion that might exist with respect to the terms “nudist” and “naturist.”
Naturist (and naturism in reference to the nudist lifestyle) is the preferred term in many European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and some other places. Generally, the term is preferred because “nudist” has a rather negative connotation in those locales. Some in the U.S. also prefer the label naturist over nudist either for similar reasons or because their practice of the nude lifestyle is more aligned with natural settings than with visiting nudist clubs or resorts. But for all intents and purposes, in this country, the terms are interchangeable and mean the same thing. Those living a nude lifestyle then should feel free to adopt whichever label suits them if they prefer any label at all.
While it’s true that the practice of going nude has been around as long as humans have existed, nudism really refers to the practice of going nude since the time that wearing clothes became a social norm. Contemporary nudism has its roots in the early 20th-century health, fitness, and natural living movements in Germany and nudism was brought to America in the late 1920s by German immigrants who had been introduced to it in their home country.
Being naked is simply the state of being unclothed while being nude is as much a state of mind as a state of being. We can now build on the basic Encyclopædia Britannica Online definition for nudism. Since most of us in the Western world was conditioned from childhood to believe the naked body is something shameful, there are still a good many people that nudists refer to as “textiles” (non-nudists) who find exposure to the nudity of others very disconcerting, to say the least.
The attitudes toward nudity among many textiles in popular culture range from mild embarrassment to outright hostility. Many of them due to myths and misconceptions of what nudism is really about view nudists and social nudity in particular with great suspicion. They often assume it is just a cover-up for unbridled sexual debauchery. Given these attitudes, nudists realize that a very important aspect of nudism is enjoying nudity when and where appropriate so as to not unnecessarily upset those who might be offended by nudity. For that reason, nudists typically confine the practice of nudism to private property, private clubs, and resorts, designated clothing-optional beaches, or at least outdoor venues sufficiently remote so that chances are small of encountering someone who would take offense at exposure to nudity.
Most nudists enjoy being nude simply for its own sake. It offers an incomparable feeling of freedom that can’t really be duplicated through any other experience. It’s relaxing in a way that can’t fully be understood by someone who hasn’t experienced it. The practice of nudism offers real benefits with respect to both mental and physical health which will be discussed in more detail later. Many of the leisure activities that nearly everyone enjoys are just so much more enjoyable when done in the nude. As one example once you have experienced skinny-dipping swimming in a clingy, soggy bathing suit will always feel unnatural and not nearly as enjoyable. Nudism also promotes for many people a healthier and more positive body image.
Who becomes a nudist?
Nudists aren’t strange, eccentric, or perverted. They are simply ordinary people from all walks of life who represent almost every profession from CEOs to construction workers and everything in between.
Oddly enough when it comes to the demographics, nudists are predominantly white and over the age of thirty-five with a large percentage of those well into their 50s and 60s. The failure of organized nudism to attract younger adults is something that has received a great deal of press and discussion in recent years. It isn’t so much that young adults are any less disposed to practice nudism than past generations as much as it seems they are less inclined to join established organized nudist organizations. There are a number of explanations for why this is so but thus far organized nudism hasn’t come up with an answer to what has become an increasingly serious issue.
The lack of minority representation among nudists, at least in contemporary America has nothing to do with discrimination. Nudists, as a rule, are some of the least prejudiced people in our society and typically welcoming of all regardless of color, race or creed. The explanation for lack of minority representation likely has more to do with cultural influences which makes this just as thorny and difficult a problem to solve as the lack of interest in organized nudity among young adults.
Organized nudism vs Independents
In the U.S. organized nudism is represented by dues-paying members of one of two nudist organizations; American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and The Naturist Society (TNS). While membership in a nudist organization is certainly not a prerequisite for being a practicing nudist, there are economies of scale when it comes to nudist organizations that cannot be duplicated on the individual level. That is what makes organizations like AANR and TNS valuable. As one example, the rank and file independent nudist who practices nudism but is unaffiliated with any national organization has little to no influence with elected officials while national nudist organizations, at least to some degree do. It is a given that if the national organizations continue to decline with respect to membership numbers and revenues ultimately they will cease to exist and along with their demise the ability to practice nudism anywhere but on private property will decline correspondingly.
That concludes this basic introduction to nudism. Some of the things touched on will be covered in greater detail in future articles in this series. Additional aspects of nudism that go beyond the basics will also be presented. In the next installment of the series, we will take a look at “The history of contemporary nudism.”
Newbies guide to nudism: 9 good reasons to become a nudist
Another great article on nudism by Larry Darter. On this third post of the Newbies guide to nudism series. following the Introduction to Nudism and the History of contemporary nudism, Larry goes over the following 9 reasons to move from the textile world to the nude one:
- Stress relief
- Positive self-esteem
- Positive body image
- Healthful benefits of exposure to sunlight
- Increased fitness
- Better sleep
- Higher social functioning
- A sense of belonging
- Authentic communication
As Larry agrees at the end of the post, there are lots of other reasons to become a nudist, and he stuck to those for the sake of keeping his post not too long. The whole series is a great read and I encourage to point it to your non nudist friend. It’s a great way to have an ice-breaker conversation on nudism and allow the idea to sink in the minds of your textile friends.
Get Naked, Stay Naked, Live Naked and Share the Naked Love!
10 tips to become a naturist
1. Where and with whom?
Think about it beforehand for you need to make several choices before launching into your first naturist experience – who are you going with? Where? Which type of site? Your choices only of course but think about some obvious things. If you want to have that experience but you’re still not comfortable with your naked body, go to a naturist beach or pool first, do not book a whole stay. You’ll avoid being stuck for several days if you appear not to be into it. Also keep in mind that it’s easier to stand naked in front of your partner than in front of your friends, even if they too are beginners. Finally, if you feel ready for a whole naturist vacation, you should know that all naturist sites are equally respectful – an essential feature.
2. With or without children?
Here’s an important one – should you go with or without your kids? You certainly can’t help but think, what are they going to think when they see me naked? Will it make me lose my authority? Is it normal for a child to experience a naturist environment? Rest assure regarding the latter – a naturist environment will not shatter your children’s psychological balance, on the contrary! If they’re still young, they will be in a safe environment in which being naked and the human body is not taboo nor exclusively associated with sexuality. If they’re a bit older (teenagers), talk to them before any booking. Give them information, do not hesitate to tackle sensitive subjects but most of all, explain what attracted you in the naturist experience. Do it as naturally as possible, it’ll be the best way to send your message. Don’t forget you can also keep it to you and your partner, only your conscience can make you share it with your children.
3. Respect the rules of naturism
Respect the rules of the site you’re staying at to the letter. Some are obvious – respect your environment and the site’s cleanliness – others are more implicit. When it comes to show tolerance towards other campers, body language is of the utmost importance – do not linger on a scar for instance, a body imperfection or any other difference. Do not hesitate to read the charter of naturism – it sums up our sites’ practices but it is valid on any naturist site!
4. Hygiene and comfort
Hygiene and comfort go along in a naturist site. Whether you’re lying on a deckchair or pumping iron at the fitness area, never forget to bring your towel – for hygiene and comfort reasons. If you’re in for a naked hike, you’re obviously allowed to wear shoes, if you’re riding your bike, do not go without a pair of shorts. Living without clothes does not mean you’ll have to pass on the basic rules of hygiene.
5. Avoid « non supervised naturism »
As a beginner, you might want to go off the beaten paths and enter remote areas non-specifically devoted to naturists in order to avoid other people’s looks. Be careful though: nudity in a public area is punished in some countries. France for instance, makes no difference between naturism and exhibitionism. Law is more permissive in other countries but you should always get some information whatever country you want to take your clothes off in. In any case, it’s always better not to go out alone in case you happen to stumble upon someone.
6. Accept your body
Don’t be afraid to show your body. It you feel uncomfortable or fear an ostentatious, involuntary reaction (this is obviously a man’s problem), you should know than everyone else around you had the same problems or doubts. Think about the fact also that this is not their first naturist experience and they won’t judge you or be shocked if your body shows any unwanted reaction. Respect is the key word here, don’t forget it. What’s more, if you don’t stare at your neighbour, your neighbour won’t stare at you. Just live your naturist experience quietly and without paying attention to the others first. It’ll help you adapt and get more comfortable with your naked body.
7. Pack your suitcase the way you always do
It can sound silly but one can wonder, what should I bring for my naturist vacation? Being naked is often « mandatory » at naturist sites or beaches – we’re using brackets because naturism is not a cult with golden rules. If you want to practice some sports though, you’ll need clothes for instance. Think about the weather also and don’t neglect sweaters, trousers or windcheaters in case of rain or high wind! Finally, sites are tolerant at the end of the day. If it gets a bit chilly, you’ll be allowed to stroll in the site with your clothes on. So pack your classy evening clothes also, just in case!
8. Prepare, being true to yourself
You’re not very comfortable with your body but you’re willing to try naturism in order to gain more confidence? Cheers, THAT’S the naturist spirit! You’ll most certainly feel better surrounded with benevolence and without hasty judgements. See that you are truly prepared for a first naturist experience though. Full body hair removal or not? It’s up to you of course, do as you want, nothing’s mandatory and nobody will judge the quantity of hair on your body – that’s not the naturist spirit! Besides, women with their period shouldn’t worry as clothes are obviously tolerated. One step at a time though: if you’re already feeling uncomfortable with the fact of being naked, do not add the fact of having to deal with your period and select your vacation dates accordingly.
9. Be careful with the sun
You’ll often be told that naturism is just the best to get a perfect tan. Beware though! As a beginner, some parts of your body have never (or rarely) been exposed to the sun and are more fragile. You’ll get strong and painful sunburns if you don’t protect them so don’t skimp on sunscreen during the first days. Buttocks, chest, pubis – those are the areas you should specifically focus on, most particularly if you have a clear skin! If your vacation was planned ahead, take some vitamins in order to prepare your skin to the upcoming exposure.
10. Become a real naturist little by little
If getting closer to your first naturist experience – on a beach or at a site – frightens you, try to relax and start getting naked when you’re home – in your bathroom of course but also in the rest of your house/apartment. Just stroll, watch TV, clean, cook… naked! You’ll get more and more comfortable, and very quickly, with the idea of living a « normal » life, naked. Once you’re used to that, the idea of standing naked in front of other people won’t seem totally impossible to you anymore.
For more information, read « Naked and happy », our partner’s article: Naturism – for whom? For what?