Nudism, also called naturism, the practice of going without clothes, generally for reasons of health or comfort. Nudism is a social practice in which the sexes interact freely but commonly without engaging in sexual activities.
Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
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 were 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 ranges 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 perquisite 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.”
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