all that is naked isn't naturist

Naturism is a philosophy not an activity -Stephan Dechenes

Recently in an open letter to the International Naturist Federation Stephan Dechenes the owner of Bare Oaks Naturist Park wrote “Naturism is a philosophy not an activity”. I agree at least in part with his description of naturism, however it seems many of those who say they are naturist/nudist fall on the other side of the equation. There seems to be a a growing belief among some in the naturist community online that naturism/nudism is something one does. It is an activity, getting naked or taking of one’s clothes.  The observed result of this belief is its proponents are quick to praise and embrace celebrities when they post naked images of themselves, when they take off their clothes. Case in point the recent Kim Kardashian’s naked selfie which garnered both praise and criticism from her celebrity peers. The nudist/naturist community seems to be almost lock step in admiration for the celebrity naked selfie. Some even join the chorus of those calling any criticism or questioning of the social impact slut shaming.

The problem with the response of those in the nudist community who rave over naked celebrity photos is the lack of nuance. The response seems to suggest that any naked picture is a naturist picture. Any naked selfie is a net positive because it shows a naked person and that’s a good thing. Yet if we are to accept the perspective of a giant in naturism like Dechenes naturism and I would add clothes free living is NOT simply just being naked. That,s way too either/or. Our society and the world of celebrity is much more complex than that. The approach and assessment of the naturist/nudist/clothes free community should be as well.

IMG_4057For example. Consider last year’s celebrity nudie hero Justin Beiber. Remember when this picture of him a boat out on the water without clothes on surfaced. After the image hit the Internet some in the clothes free community eagerly heralded the Biebster as mainstream role model for nudism. I was not to be counted in that number. Then came a new image announcing the naked photo was deleted with an accompanying explanation.

Interestingly I noticed very little if any response to the retraction from all the “nudist” bloggers and tweeters who were excited to see the Beibster showing his butt unashamedly. So I ask was that a net positive of the nudist cause? The photo that accompanies the Biebster mea culpa has his covered in clothes from head to toe suggesting a great deal of shame attached to the prior naked image. The reason may well be sincere who am I to judge but it certainly should give pause to those in the nudists who too quickly jump to claim celebrity nude pics and a useful way of advancing the cause.

There is also the notion of empowerment embedded in the conversation about nude celebrity images, especially when the celebrity is a woman. The naked celebrity pics are often cited in nudist circles as empowering examples for the rest of us. Often into the tapestry of this conversation is feminist rhetoric lauding the right of women to do whatever they want with their bodies and decrying the slut shaming of women. Women have the right to do what they want with their bodies, I couldn’t agree more.. However it doesn’t follow that a celebrity woman who post naked images of herself is automatically a great advocate for clothes free living. One  nudist blogger wrote

 Seeing a woman’s confidence enough to show her naked body is a good thing for women and a good thing for nudism.

Maybe, or maybe there is a more nuanced view. Maybe we are reading too much of our interests into the interests and motivations of the naked celebrity posting. Elle Magazine recently chimed in on the Kardashian story. The opinions of feminists and psychologists quoted in the article helped me realize this issue is incredibly complex and phenomenally nuanced.

“Kim Kardashian’s nude photos are empowering for her, but exploitive of her audience,” she said. “She is empowered all the way to the bank. She not only controls her image, she cultivates it. She is a brand. Cyberbullies are her best friends. The more rude things people say, the more people watch to see what will happen.” Rutledge also notes that the timing of the whole kerfuffle—immediately following a swell of articles suggesting a Kylie Jenner usurping of the Kardashian social media throne—is suspect. I also think it’s worth noting that Kardashian’s thoughtful, well-written blog post was shared rather fortuitously on International Women’s Day.

I have come to the conclusion that social complexity of this issue requires a more nuanced understanding from those who advocate clothes free living. The reality is Kim Kardashian and be an empowered woman and not be a good role model. She can be comfortable in her own skin but not good for the clothes free cause. She may inspire women but not be a feminist icon; she can be criticized with out being slut shamed. Despite the barrage of copycat posts this writer strongly believes that it is not naked celebrities pics that will make the difference in normalizing clothes free living, and cultivating body positivity.

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“We’ve grown into a culture of idolising images of naked celebrities but body shaming any woman who chooses to go bare without the backing of a billboard or million dollar agency. As though nudity is only for the famous. Only for the fit and single. Only for the bodies ideal for runways.” — serenityhart #justthinkingoutloud #EmbraceYourNakedness

Rather it is images of everyday ordinary people doing everyday ordinary things while being appropriately clothes free, without any monetizing value that will win the day. I hope we can be as excited about the non celebrity body as we are about the celebrity ones. I hope we can recognize the social duality embedded in the western unconscious that regards non idealized, non white bodies differently than we do celebrity bodies. Topless female aboriginal bodies are classified as pornographic by Facebook while idealized images of the female body and celebrity bodies are ok.

So true. The ordinary people are shamed for nudity while celebrities and models are praised or nudity used to sell products. But somehow it’s not OK for the everyday person to be #clothesfree just for themselves their happiness their good. Serenity Hart

Though I am not sure we are ready to take the step, I believe those who want to normalize nudity should endeavor to take a more nuanced approach to the issue of celebrity nude images. It’s not easy to ascertain the motives of an individual in a particular instance. However taking the time to consider the history and pattern of celebrities could give a more nuanced perspective. Personally I am comfortable living with the tension of knowing that despite how it seems on the surface the empowered naked celebrity selfie may not be empowering me to live life clothes free.

About the author: Earl D

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18 thoughts on “all that is naked isn't naturist”

  1. Ivan Akirov says:

    In previous opportunities I’ve stood for the idea that celebrities being role models for quite a large sector of western population, by posing naked and posting naked pictures of themselves, whatever their motives, they accomplish a couple of things due to their media potential: get people accustomed to the sight of other naked people, and not only in their bedrooms; the acceptance of their nudity as something not to “ew” to, thus perhaps those people won’t “ew” to others nudity, and as you stated, some may thing that if for them is OK to be naked, publicly or not, but while having nothing more to do, while on vacations, or just fooling around alone or with others, they, the “normal” people can also be naked and OK.
    That celebrities are usually pretty good looking? Perhaps unlike the rest of us mortals, yes, but again, people identify themselves on them, and as long as more “curvy” Kims and Lenas, more “skinny” Mileys, “regular” Chelseas and others keep appearing naked or partially naked, different kinds of people may feel they are not that far from them.
    That they may just want to publicize themselves by showing naked? That’s true in many cases, in others they’re trying to give support to others and their cause, and sometimes they try to show the World that there’s no big deal in being naked even when the world reacts as if it is.
    So thought not most of them may have a naturist intention, without forgetting that in the past, some have made public they like to live their lives, or have lived or grown in a very relaxed way regarding nudity, they may be igniting the spark of curiosity about the possibility for all to be able to enjoy our nudity fearless and proudly to some degree .
    And finally, celebrities will always be the object of desire to many, a desire many times sexual in nature, that’s an issue of the observer, and whatever those celebrities do when naked, even when not specifically sexy, will be regarded as that for this sex-evilizing (if that word exist) nudity-sex-equating society.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts you raise some interesting points

  2. Bare Beach Bum says:

    The philosophy/practice/lifestyle of naturism is separate and distinct from the publishing of nude pictures in any media. Photography can be used for many purposes even naturism, but just because someone took a naked picture of himself doesn’t make him a naturist/nudist. Sure many naturists have photographed themselves doing activities nude. They are naturists because they believe in the philosophy of the lifestyle.

    Naked celebrity photos could help or hurt our cause depending on who and how they are used. In one aspect, it could help promote a healthier attitude towards nudity because for some uncanny reason many people admire celebrities. If they see one of their favorite celebrities nude, they may think that it is fine for them to be nude too. If a star poses for some nude art photos or Chelsea Handler posts a selfie for Free the Nipple, then as hontouniheart states, it could be empowering for some women to embrace nudity.

    The line is crossed when those pictures become more erotic/sexual and/or exhibitionistic in nature. I consider any picture posted by any Kardarshian or Miley Cyrus exhibitionism and sexual. They are posted strictly for shock or publicity purposes no matter what dumb hashtag they use. Their pictures are meant to stimulate the senses of those that see them and not always sexually. Still they do not represent a healthy view of nudity; therefore, naturism.

    No one, male or female, should be shamed at any time and for any reason for expressing their enjoyment of nudity or sex even if it is blatant. I do not feel that there is any need to further elaborate on that statement.

    Frankly we are not going to have any impact on whether nude images are published publicly and the impressions that they create. The more common it becomes the more desensitized the general public becomes to seeing a nude body. We need to continue to break down the arcane and hypocritical rules of social media sites. We should embrace the photographs that project a positive image and use them to further promote the natural and wholesome practice of naturism.

    1. Thanks as always for your thoughtful agree or not I can always count on more than knee jerk response from you which is much appreciated please continue to share your thoughts here I think they bring helpful perspective. BTW did you get the VIP invite sent out a week ago for my clothes free life

      1. Bare Beach Bum says:

        I think that most of the time we are on the same page but have minor disagreements on how to get to the same point. I enjoy your thought-provoking commentary because it always generates a lively discussion from many points-of-view. All of us here together want to promote a positive image of the nude human body and our natural right to be in that state. I searched my entire account and only found a message from back on 3/2 from you. Sorry and thanks!

        1. Disagreements are good I think they sharpen my own thinking. Disagreement is fine as long you are disagreeable I think and you definitely are not disagreeable. Ok I am going to send again please check you spam folder as well.

  3. CarloMario avatar CarloMario says:

    Reblogged this on Look at Both Sides Now and commented:
    Excellent article. So well reasoned.

    1. Thanks and thanks for the reblog

  4. What a great article. I concern with everything.

  5. One of the things about this whole topic that has been sitting with me is this whole “slut shaming” correlation in the first place. So, on the one level, there are the folks who respond to any naked woman by calling them sluts. But then there are the people to react to any critique of celebrity nudes with the same line “stop slut shaming.”

    The issue here is that there is still a lack of empowering conversation when people think that any critique is “slut shaming” in my opinion. Equating any little critique of a celebrity’s approach to nudity (not the fact THAT they are nude, but the why and how they are engaging nudity) strips the whole possibility of any empowerment. So, for instance, I have critique of Kim Kardashian’s and others’ way of going about things, whether they strike me as insincere, joking, opportunistic, or whatever. But my critique of them is not slut shaming. And for people to constantly link any critique as slut shaming actually jails the naked body back into the prison cell of “nude equals sex.”

    So, the images above for instance… the ones that are about “stop slut shaming” and all that… they might find that empowering, but it is not empowering for me, because my simple nakedness does not make me a slut.

    So, their rhetoric is still missing the point, and they are actually furthering the rabbit hole of “nude equals sex.” They end up making the conversation about sex, and how women should be able to be sexual and sexy and have sex however they want. It’s not that I disagree with that. But, I don’t find this argument helpful, because they are still talking about nakedness as sexual. Whereas for me, my true power is that I can be naked and reading a book, creating Excel reports, cooking, practicing yoga, hiking, and when I want to be sexual, I do that, too, but my nudity is not tied to sexuality. They are missing the point. They are not empowering women to really choose at the deepest level.

    That’s one of the major reasons why we have to be willing to really navigate the nuances of these topics and conversations carefully with really sharp ears, sharp eyes, and care considerations. Because when we don’t, we end up making the issue worse and perpetuating the same base problems that make all this a struggle in the first place.

    1. @hontouniheart Thanks for taking the time to write such lengthy and thoughtful comment. I hope this post will stimulate much discussion on the subject.

  6. All-Nudist says:

    Excellent and thoughtful discussion of a complicated issue. It’s not all black and white, but it’s true that a portion of the modern mainstream in the nudist/naturist community is straying from some important basics. It’s hard to tell how many using social media as a guide since, by far, most nudists do not use the social media. Hence, the most extreme elements receive undue attention.

    But celebrity nudes? Selfies? Erotic photos? These are not social nudism.

    1. @all-nudist Thanks for the comment. Hope you are on the mend. 🙂
      You may be right that many don’t use social media. But it is here to stay so if we don’t use it then we in effect abdicate the presentation of nudism to those who may have a distorted view. Like it or not we have to engage there if for not other reason than to present a differing viewpoint to the conventional wisdom. That’s why we’re there.

    2. All-Nudist says:

      Here’s an example of what someone who may sincerely think they’re a nudist/naturist, but are misdirected into thinking that pretty pics of naked women represent nudism.

      1. Yes that is the most prevalent issue which was discussed here and earned a accusation of being divisive. Still we move forward. We are launching a new campaign #morethanpics next month to reward bloggers who post more than pics but have real experiences preferably their own to share. The issue is everyone wants to think that they have something of interest that others want to see but in reality the default to posting pics of naked women to draw attention and get so sucked into that they never post anything but. I know because when I started out that is all I did but really it was irrelevant. I made a choice to shift gears invite others to contribute and develop the online magazine. The nothing but pics site are a total turn off in my opinion to those exploring clothes free living so we will continue to say that there should be something more, and encourage those who go in that direction.

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