Freedom to be free
I admit it. I am frustrated and kind of angry that there aren’t more places to be nude, places where I am free to connect with nature in a way that I feel God intended.
First, I don’t know why on Earth it should bother people that anyone is without clothes. Never would I force it on others, although I do think they’re not living fully by missing out on this experience. But why do they get to force their views on me and my fellow naturists? And if nudity is so mortifying, then why are nude paintings OK in public but not nude people? There really seems to be a disconnect there.
Secondly, if some folks are going to be so uncomfortable with nudity, then can we not get some share of the public land set aside as clothing optional where we can camp, hike, fish, bike or whatever without clothing if that’s how we want to enjoy the outdoors? I don’t think this is anything crazy to ask for. People have been enjoying the outdoors au naturel for centuries, including US presidents who have gone skinny dipping in the Potomac.
I’m not talking about sexual experiences, I’m talking about natural experiences. Just a piece of land here and there where families, friends, and people in general may experience the outdoors without being in sweaty clothes and may enjoy feeling the warmth of the sun on their skin. It’s a very basic human experience.
The freedom to experience nature naturally. The freedom to live life on my own terms. The freedom to be me without worry, without judgement. Freedom.
Freedom to be Free via Thoughts on Naturism
I stumbled upon the Thoughts on Naturism blog through a link on another tumblr site. As I perused the posts, this one particularly caught my eye. I share his frustration that there are not more places where nudity is an option. The freedom to live life on our own terms, the freedom to be free, isn’t that what we all want?
If there were no difference …
… between being clothed and nude, then we would not feel anything when removing that one last piece of clothing!
But there is a difference and it makes all the difference. Try it, experience it, feel it.
Nudity Alone Does Not Make A Nudist by Mark Partin
I find myself in total agreement with Mark. I’ve seen photos on nudist sites that leave me scratching my head and thinking, “How does this promote nudism in a positive way?” I’ve seen sexually suggestive poses on sites that promote legitimate nudist venues and generally do an outstanding job of promoting nudist values and the the nudist lifestyle. They are obviously puling some of the images from porn sites and in some of the images, I’ve seen porn site logos and URLs. As Mark notes, not everyone naked on a beach or in a pool is a nudist nor are they necessarily representative of the nudist lifestyle.
It’s already hard for us to defend our lifestyle to the non-nudist public when the news media applies the nudist label to every nut-case who happens to be naked when they commit a crime, walk down the street in front of a school, or uses the drive-thru at their local fast food restaurant. No wonder the general public thinks we’re wacko or perverts.
It doesn’t help our cause when we tell people that nudism isn’t about sex then they go to a nudist site we’ve recommended and the first picture they see is of a woman at a swimming pool with her legs spread. The easily confused general public is not only getting a mixed message but the wrong message.
We can’t be assured that every image we post is that of an genuine nudist taken in a genuine nudist setting (I’m not going to attempt to define either of those), we should use discretion, consider our audience, and choose images that represent nudism in a positive light. As nudists, we’ve got to do our own PR and do what we can to bolster the image of nudist and nudism.
- Other commentary:
- There’s More to a Nudist Than Nudity — All-Nudist
- Nudist Photos Are Not From Penthouse — Nothing to Dread
- Nudist Lines Of Perspective — Dreadfree
I recently read What Nudism Means To Me by Mark Partin in the July 2012 edition of The Bulletin (AANR) and saw that it was posted online at Heartland Naturists. Although the article is a bit longer than others like it (nearly a full page in The Bulletin), it illustrates just how difficult it can be to express in mere words what nudism is, how it feels, what it means to us, and why we do it.
Nudism is an experiential concept. That is, it has to be experienced in order to be understood. We can tell you about it, you can read about it and you can look at pictures and videos but until you actually get naked with others in a social, non-sexual environment you really don’t have any idea what it’s about. Being naked at home, either by yourself or with your spouse doesn’t quite scratch the surface though it’s a step in that direction. For many, the first social nudist experience is all it takes to discover and appreciate the comfort and the freedom while for others may take a little longer. Even after that realization, the full meaning doesn’t really sink in right away. It seeps in gradually until it becomes a part of your life, the way you think and act. Your attitudes and perspectives start to change. You see things differently. You form bonds with people based on who they are instead of their appearance.
Mark talked about his experience in coming out as a nudist on Facebook, most notably the lack of reaction. My experience with nudism on Facebook has been similar and I’ve found it puzzling. I’ve seen a couple comments of the “Eww!” and “I don’t wanna see that!” genre and there have been a couple friends who have posted a nudist comic to my wall but for the most part, the silence has been deafening. Whether or not my Facebook friends j(which are a varied mix of childhood, military, co-workers, relatives, current friends, and people I hardly know) care about or approve of my lifestyle and views, is of little consequence to me. I’m living my life openly in accordance with my conscience and my values. I don’t think anyone has unfriended me because of my views but if they have, I’m OK with it.
I’m not going to try to explain what nudism means to me in this post as it is difficult to put into words. Read Mark’s article. Much of what he says accurately reflects my own thoughts on what nudism means to me.
[Edit] What Naturism Means to Me by Nick Alimonos is another insightful article.
This morning I read Naked planet: going nude around the world, an article from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald from March 2011. Since comments were closed long ago, I thought I’d comment on it here.
The author talks about how we often shed some of our inhibitions and try new things when travelling takes us out of our comfort zones. We’ll try new foods or strike up conversations with total strangers. She noted that during her travels, she’d often shed her clothes when experiencing other cultures which makes sense since many other cultures are much more relaxed about nudity than the major English-speaking cultures.
I experienced many of my early encounters with social nudity while overseas, particularly in while in Europe when I’d partake of saunas and spas in Germany and Scandinavia. I’d often find myself sharing the facilities with men and women of all shapes and sizes, all nude and all unconcerned about their nudity. It was the most natural thing in the world. The only people I’d see in bathing costumes or wrapped in towels would be other Americans.
I couldn’t understand how my fellow countrymen (and women) could stand having sweaty wet clothing clinging to their bodies in a hot sauna.They had no idea of the experience they were missing, the comfort and freedom that you feel when nude with others. It’s their loss.
Years later, when I went to a nudist venue for the first time, any apprehension about being nude with other immediately disappeared. It felt completely natural, completely normal, to be nude and I can probably give some credit to my earlier socially nude experiences overseas.
We Americans need to learn to step outside of our comfort zones, put aside our fears and prejudices, and experience life.
A very well done film discussing naturism. Although a British production, they have many of the same issues and concerns that we have on our side of the Atlantic.
In his penultimate post, Mark Cornick, author of Nude, Renewed, discussed how he has come to a crossroads with his blog and what one might call “his loss of faith” in naturism. In his last post he announced that he would not continue with it.
There is a sense of loss when a good, well-written, insightful and informative naturist blog comes to an end. It’s like losing a good friend. I think I can emphasize with him, or at least try. Mark wrote about many naturist issues that concern me and I’ve written some words on them myself.
Nudism/Naturism as we know it is at crossroads as well. It’s suffering from a generation gap. The economic climate may be pushing some venues toward greener pastures just to survive. Societal attitudes toward our lifestyle vary widely, often depending on what direction the political and moralist winds are blowing. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty in our society and its effects pervade every aspect of our lives, including nudism.
My own perspectives on and participation in the -ism part of the nude lifestyle have ebbed and flowed. I started out as a nudist and then began to gravitate towards naturism, inspired by the naturist ideals of the early 20th century. Now as I’ve integrated the naturist philosophy with other ideas and philosophies, my self-identity as a naturist isn’t as distinct as it once was.
I don’t follow all the issues as closely as I once did because that led to me feeling burned out. When I see something that calls me to comment, then I do. Or if I feel a flash of inspiration about something. Sometimes I’ll post just to say that I enjoy being nude and that’s reason enough.
Well, Mark, good luck to you. Stay nude, enjoy life, and follow your heart. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated your presence in the nudist blogosphere. I hope to see you around.
- Related posts:
- The End
Kansas nudists battle critics and stereotypes
This is probably one of the most positive articles about nudism I’ve ever read. They quoted credible sources, people like Mike Storey, Bob Morton and Nikki Hoffman and cited research showing that family nudism increased body acceptance.
Critics of nudism were also cited but only in passing and one critic, a Kansas state representative who had proposed a bill that would have outlawed nudist camps, has since changed her position and acknowledges naturism as a way of life.
I was disappointed that “Mike”, the naturist featured in the article was keeping his involvement a secret from his family and most of his friends. I’m sure he has his reasons for doing so and I’m sure they’re valid concerns. Still, his reluctance to be open about it is disappointing. At the same time it shows us that we still have a long way to go before we overcome the ignorance, the intolerance, and the stereotypes prevalent in our society.
The Nudist Expo and Trade Show was a Major Success
Maybe this was the kind of exposure that nudism needs, a chance to present nudism to the public in a positive way where we’re not just preaching to the choir or fighting to defend ourselves. I hope that the mainstream media and business people came away with a good impression. Maybe some will see a potential market or at least some insight into why we do things unclothed.
What effects this will have on the average nudist and nudist venue remains to be seen. I see all sorts of numbers about how nude recreation is a growing industry yet nudist venues are closing or struggling to stay open with declining memberships. Will events such as this help the nudist cause and will there be residual benefits?