How many of us think of nudism as a alternative life style? I have for many years, but lately I began to challenge this way of thinking . You don’t often hear the naturist lifestyle being discussed publicly without it being a part of a poor joke or a reference to ” new age” thinking. We as individuals have undoubtedly felt that awkwardness that comes with letting a loved one in on our preferred model of comfort, but why is there a level of discomfort? It is a fact that every person on earth was born nude, and 100% still are. Yes, many choose to cover themselves for various reasons, but at some point in the day we all must remove the clothing and face the nude self. It is well known that social nudity is a common sign of trust with many youths and adults. So why is the naturist movement constantly place on the list of taboo after so many years of presence within the realm of mainstream advocacy groups? My theory is that it is due to how we have presented of ourselves.
I stumbled upon naturist philosophy one night when I was 17 years old. I had been surfing the internet seeking new ideas and perceptions on life and the art of living it. I identified completely with the many view points on societal imbalances root cause being due to the restrictions on the healthy expression of the universal nude self. I connected myself to all channels of the naturist community I could find, and began to actively search for groups and clubs. 13 years later and with a little bit more worldly experience my naturist spirit is very much alive, but I’m still seeking.
My eagerness to vacation at resorts and clubs has greatly waned. Most naturist social ads seem to be cut from the same cloth; Family oriented, some rustic and all dominantly featuring the same kind of people. Being African American there is a instinctual hesitation in attending areas or events that come off to be attracting only one group of people in the middle of the woods, but I know this is not the goal of our community. I challenged myself to take note of every meme and club advertisements and asked myself, what did the image tell me about this place or group. What I found was a lack of visible diversity in many areas.
Labeling has become part of the process of social classification. It gives a social club the ability to control how their voices are heard and their overall image. It’s high time we embrace the word “movement”. Movement in the meaning of a group of people working together to advance, and nudism is indeed a movement. Over the last couple of years the rising of awareness to the fundamental nature of mankind has increased to that of global consciousness. Listed as one of these latest perceptions that society has awaken to is that of body consciousness. The awareness that every individual is natural to the planet earth and need not be ashamed of the physical human condition. More and more the displaying of the nude form in media is presented as the hallmark of rebellion from oppressive thought, and freedom from the artificial.
The presentation of diversity is as important to have especially when it’s the actual reality. Mainstream media has taught us the value of reaching multiple audiences. Right now nudism is beginning to receive must deserved positive exposure. Nude reality shows and celebrities proclaiming there enjoyment of nude freedom is becoming common. one would think we would have begun to see the reflection of this growth in how the term “nudist” is perceived, but things seem to remain the same. Web pages and naturist centered news continually cover that which has already been safely labeled a part of the Nudist experience. Segments mainly just asking about how it feels to be nude outdoors, (which is a breath taking feeling and I highly recommend) are plentiful on multiple websites. Still, with more people accepting nude as an option for daily life; what is keeping the clothes free community from doing more? Let’s be clear, many people enjoy clothes free living in its various degrees and don’t identify as practicing nudism.
This realization came to me when discussing outdoor sports with a friend. He is a married father of two that enjoys the adventures that provide relaxation. He was telling me of his latest kayaking trip when he mentioned it was in the nude. I was thrilled upon hearing this, so I asked how long he had been a nudist? His reply was that he wouldn’t label himself a nudist or naturist, but he strips down often in sporting adventures and his family has even joined him in enjoying naked liberation. However he says he does so, for comfort and the over all serenity it brings. This left me a little puzzled because what he enjoys is the same that we all do as a community, so why the perceived separation? In my opinion, we have continued to focus on defending the term naturist or nudist to the point that we have seemingly segregated ourself from our original goal. So our image is that of a exclusive group.
A lot of people enjoy nudism, and practice a healthy nudist lifestyle but they have little interest in the naturist movement simply because nudity is does not play a central role in there lives.They are not aware of the full scope of naturist/nudist life, or have we failed to realize it ourselves? There are a multitude of blogs, sites and even some nudist news streams and other journalistic voices. But they are mostly focused on those that wear the label nudist as a badge of glory or focus on recruiting and converting of textiles. Unfortunately, those that enjoy nude recreation but do not go out there way to do so are left unaware of the plethora of possible adventures that await them. This creates the cycle of misidentification that we have faced for many years. We must revamp our image to match our focus. Living nude or mostly nude was not invented in Europe, only the term “naturist” was. The people of the world was aware of nudity way before laws governing its expression were ever invented, so let’s refocus our attention from just being naked and direct it on presenting the depth of our perception.
The way we move forward and maintain the integrity of our stance, is through the embodiment of our intent. Since its conception the naturist movement has held the place of a sentinel in pushing for the legal recognition and protection of those that wish to enjoy the simplicity of human nature. I feel now is the time to exercise our freedoms. I would love to hear more about clothing optional summer camps and what they teach. How about segments on politics, health and weather that are in depth and investigative all hosted by a nude presenters? I wonder how nude is express and supported by families where it is commonly practiced, yet they are not a “nudist household”. Is there space for nude jobs that do not involve working from home? I would love to see clothes free living in its variety and in common practice.
Through persistence and challenging our mainstream image; perhaps a day will come when the nightly news will have a nude anchor alongside the clothed, and the perception of the nude self will be socially recognized as one of the natural choices of dress. I admit the idea of a social nude utopia seems far fetched or only possible very far into the future but it’s already happening. I write this not to challenge the intent of those that paved the way before us, but to remind us of it. Increasingly, people around the world have become free of shame associated with nudity, and many public places are now feeling it to be acceptable. It is time to remove ourselves from the category of “alternative” and present us to be common practice.