Have you ever pondered the idea of nudism or naturism as a way of life?
In Western culture, there are very few laws specifically prohibiting simple public nudity and yet we are encouraged to think of covering the body as an obligatory requirement for social interactions. We cover our bodies for “impression management, style, panache, and careful bodily representation.” We even feel compelled through social pressure to wear at least minimal clothing, even when swimming, and other activities that really do not and should not require covering. But clothing does serve a purpose beyond covering. We use clothing and other accessories for an outward expression of our identity and group affiliations.
In the National Geographic Channel documentary Taboo: Extreme Living, Psychology Professor Matthew Westra spoke to the ideologies in the US surrounding nudity. “Nudity is a taboo in America because we primarily equate nudity or nakedness with sexuality and we have taboos about sexuality,” he began, “a lot of it has to do, I think, with the Puritan and Victorian heritage that we have, which says that any kind of temptation will lead you into hell.”
To us, these tragic passages just speak to the fact that our bodies are not our own, and that we are in positions where we must regulate our actions to regulate the actions of others (I.E. sexual advances, the gaze, judgment, and so forth).
When posting photos which expose a female nipple or a socially constructed “private part” on social media, individuals receive lash back, repercussions from others and from social platforms, and other such reactions which are often unwanted or unfounded. The naked body is something we are so deeply obsessed with, but why are we still drawing offense from the most natural thing we possess: our bodies, our selves, our skin?
So, before we burn our clothes and embrace nakedness to the fullest, we thought we should explore these topics a little further, and we’d love if you’d join along in the journey.
Let’s begin with defining the terms Nudism and Naturism:
“The belief in or practice of going nude, especially in non-sexual social settings and as part of a conscious choice of lifestyle.”
“the practice of wearing no clothes in a vacation camp or for other leisure activities”
“the worship of nature or natural objects.”
Though the two terms are different, they are often used interchangeably and understood to be the same. Though, from our understanding, nudism seems to be embracing the naked lifestyle whereas naturism to be embracing the clothing optional lifestyle. Some individuals identify as one or the other, and some identify as both. For the most part, the ideals of nudism and naturism seemingly overlap without being exactly identical. As with all things, people should be free to identify with whatever term(s) suit them best.
Social nudism is a particular form of naturism in that it is practiced in a social context. Social nudism can be performed in private locations, such as in one’s home with family members and friends, or at dedicated public venues and events, such as clothing-optional beaches, nudist camps, clubs, resorts, cruises, and nude bike rides. Businesses have responded to the growing demand for social-nudism sites and naturist experiences, offering nudist resorts, local naturist clubs, and naturist holiday destinations. Several beaches, resorts, and bed-and-breakfast establishments offer outdoor environments where one can be legally naked among other like-minded individuals.
On the other hand, non-nudists often link social nudism with “animalism, criminality, debauchery, chaos, transgression, deviance, hypersexual perversion, erotic oases, incivility, and rustic naivety,” according to several studies and publications. Social nudism is still strongly stigmatized by people in general, as well as the government. Because of the many stigmas, being nude in public is marginalized.
The concepts of nudism and naturism can seem pretty damn foreign as it is something we are wildly unexposed to due to rules (both written and unwritten) which prevent people who embrace these lifestyles from doing so publicly. In fact, an article published in the National Geographic tells us that “a broad movement embracing the benefits of social nudity didn’t appear in the Western world until the early 20th century. It started in Germany, where it blossomed as an alternative to the stress of industrialized, urban life. By 1929, the movement made it to the U.S., where it has struggled to become part of mainstream culture ever since.”
Why are we STILL so bothered by nudity?
- 80% of the U.S. public agrees that it is okay to have a nude beach, as long as it is marked by a sign
- 25% of adults polled said they’d gone skinny-dipping in mixed company at least once in their life
It’s something we seem to be alright with in terms of “doing something crazy” in an isolated event, or “busting loose” with friends (skinny dipping, streaking, or visiting a nude beach), but it’s something we’re still perplexed by and resistant to as a way of life. Could we be correct in thinking that some of this resistance stems from fear of the unknown? We know that we find ourselves leery of new concepts when we don’t have all the information, and we figured you might be the same!
We looked to Young Naturists and Nudists America to learn a little more, and we cannot express how pleased we are with the positivity and love that radiated from their website. Here’s a little bit about them:
Nudism / Naturism is one of the fastest growing forms of recreation in the United States today. Join the growing number of people who enjoy nonsexual nude recreation and the nudist lifestyle. You don’t have to be a long time nudist or naturist to participate – all you need is to be comfortable in your own skin.
Body image and body acceptance are an issue that seems to plague many in today’s society. We hope that, with time, people will find out that it is far more important who the person is rather than what they look like. Through nudism and naturism people learn (very quickly in fact) to feel comfortable with how they look and accept their bodies and their looks as they are.
Truly, what could be more wonderful than embracing self, nature, and body-positivity all at once!?
Because we are SO compelled by nudism, naturism, and the above sentiments, we would like to explore it further, and we’ve gathered 5 tips and resources so that you can, too! Check it out:
5 Ways to Embrace and Explore Nudism & Naturism Right Now
Supporting One Another
Perhaps nakedness as a way of life is something you’re interested in as a concept, but not something you’re prepared or interested in embracing yourself. As with everything, you can still be an ally/advocate none the less! Support those around you who are embracing being nude, ask them questions if you’re curious or feel uncomfortable, and get to know your relationship with nakedness through these experiences of others.
Accept new information, do research, and don’t immediately react negatively to something you don’t understand or are scared of. Much of prejudice is born from misinformation or fear, so commit to a life as a constant learner and you may surprise yourself. Not blindly resisting the unknown can be an incredibly freeing experience. You don’t have to embrace everything you come across, but you also don’t have to reject it.
Nudism/Naturism on a Small Scale
If you’re intrigued by nudism or nakedness in general, why not explore it first in private? Try being naked more frequently in the safety of your own home (or your bedroom if you don’t live alone). Try looking at and touching your naked body more frequently. your body is your home and is the most natural thing about you. It’s all yours, it’s all natural, and it’s all you! Nudity is freeing and invigorating, try incorporating it into each day a little more frequently and see what happens!
Exploring it One Step Further
Are you liking what you’re hearing and wanting to dive in? Us too! Well, why don’t you try visiting a nude beach, attending a nude event, or going on a nudists/naturist retreat? These events and safe spaces are plentiful and all over the world, so we’re willing to bet you can find one near you. Check out the Young Nudists and Naturists America’s event page, you just might see something you like!
Exploring, Understanding, and Rejecting Our Views on Clothing
Clothing has become so f**king complicated! Between trends and brand names, we’re pretty ready to check out. Clothing can be a wonderful form of self-expression and individuality, but it can also be a source for competition, elitism, bullying, and stress. Put simply, it’s all pretty pointless. So, how do we resist it? Ask yourself why you wear what you wear. Ask yourself if you really identify with the clothing you dress in each day. Do you feel comfortable? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel like you? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” perhaps it’s time for some reflection and a little closet rejuvenation. Wear things that make you feel amazing and free, be mindful of your reasoning when you’re purchasing things, and just embrace self in all of your decisions.
Our relationships to nudity, body, clothing, and self can be complicated, this is no secret, but through seeking to learn what’s out there and seeking to understand ourselves and our needs to the best of our abilities maybe we can begin to reject some of the negativity that manifests from these strains.
Let’s get the conversation started!
What are your thoughts on nudity and nudity as a way of life? Why do you feel we are still so fearful of naked bodies? And finally, how can we work together to promote each other doing what makes us feel good?