AANR mission statement:
Our Mission: Simply put, we exist “To advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment.”
TNS mission statement:
The mission of The Naturist Society is to promote body, acceptance through clothing-optional recreation using the tools of education and community outreach.
“Body acceptance is the idea…Nude recreation is the way.” – TNS founder Lee Baxandall
Nude recreation and social nudism haven’t been central to my practice of naturism in quite a while. In the last decade those aspects have substantially decreased in importance to me and I’ve found that my own ideas about naturism and clothes-free living have aligned less and less with the nudist paradigm of the national nudist organizations, AANR and TNS.
Both AANR and TNS emphasize nude (clothing-optional) recreation in their mission statements. This seems to imply that engaging in recreational activities is a primary reason for being nude. Personally, I would like see a change in the direction of our national nudist organizations and their member clubs to promoting nudism and naturism as healthy lifestyles as opposed to being merely a recreational activity.
Many of my basic ideas and philosophies concerning naturism stem from the nudist and naturist movements in Europe in the early 20th century, especially the Freikörperkultur (FKK) in Germany though I’ve been somewhat influenced by some of the French naturist movements as well. I appreciated their emphasis on fitness and health although I don’t necessarily advocate group calisthenics and the like. I”m more of a proponent of individual discipline. Stéphane Deschênes, owner of the Bare Oaks Naturist Park in Canada, has also been an influence.
I envision a clothes-free lifestyle as one the promotes health and fitness, not to achieve some abstract aesthetic standard, but to enhance one’s health and physical abilities, and to benefit one’s own well-being. I regard body acceptance as a starting point rather than an end in itself. We have to accept things as they are before we can work to change them through our own efforts.
In my naturist vision, full nudity, though not absolutely essential, should be encouraged whenever possible. I consider being nude and incorporating nudity into our daily activities as much as possible to be extremely beneficial to one’s physical, psychological, and spiritual health. It starts with accepting our bodies and being comfortable in our own skin, then moving forward,
AANR’s mission statement talks about advocating “nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings”. Who determines which settings are appropriate and how do they make this determination? Settings I deem appropriate for nudity are usually quite different from what society and the law deem appropriate. Why shouldn’t I be able to tend my garden or sunbathe in my backyard in the nude? Or wash my car, check my mail, relax on my deck, or take my garbage can to the curb? Who is harmed? Whose rights are being infringed?
I believe that casual nudity should be decriminalized, that there should be no criminal, legal, or civil sanctions for simply being unclothed in view of the public. I won’t argue about whether being nude is or isn’t a right but why should an activity that harms no one, infringes no one’s rights or property, and is generally beneficial to one’s overall health, be illegal?
To close my rant, there are just a couple more things about organized nudism that get under my skin. One is the secrecy that surrounds American nudism. Trying to make nude recreation and clothes-free living more acceptable and mainstream while keeping it secret from friends, family, and coworkers seems counterintuitive. Maybe that’s just a personal issue I have. I spent 20 years in a “culture of secrecy” which negatively influenced my personal life. My lack of transparency in personal matters caused me a lot of grief. I endeavor to be as open and transparent as possible.
Lastly, I think it’s time we made peace with the camera. They are everywhere and nearly everyone has one built into their mobile phone. For better or for worse, we live in a society where virtually everything we do is subject to being photographed, recorded, and otherwise documented. By embracing our technology we have given up our expectations of privacy and once it gets on the Internet, there’s no getting it back or maintaining any control over what happens to it. This makes living with openness and transparency all the more important. It also becomes more important to be able to defend your lifestyle choices.
Earlier this month I learned of the existence of a local non-landed club, the Dayton Warm Breezes, which is AANR affiliated. They have monthly events such as swims, gatherings at members’ homes, and visits to nearby landed clubs. There are around 44 members, of which 15 are female. While they try to keep a gender balance, they don’t refuse single/unaccompanied males. Single males are encouraged to bring a female companion to events.
In several places on their web site they emphasize that they are not a clothing-optional club and that nudity at their events is expected. Their prohibition of cameras at events is understandable and, for the most part, reasonable. Like many other nudist clubs, they’re quite concerned about their privacy.
There had been a swim scheduled for earlier this month but the event had to be canceled at the last minute when the hotel where the event was scheduled to take place, reported there was a problem with the pool. There was hope that it could be rescheduled for the following Saturday but that apparently fell through. The next swim is scheduled for mid-January. There are two events slated at member’s homes in November and December. One event is a house party which will include a hot tub and massages and the other will be a holiday house party. I don’t know if I will able to attend either event.
As time goes on without actually attending an event, I have increasing doubts about joining. Social nudism is not nearly as high a priority as it once was although having opportunities to participate with a local group is certainly attractive. As much as I would like to share this aspect of my life with my spouse, she is not a nudist and has no interest in it. However, to her credit, she has not objected to my participation which has always been with her full knowledge and consent. I’ve dealt with the “reluctant” spouse issue for at least a decade and I’ve found it best to nor pursue it. I’ve accepted it for what it is. I cannot change her mind and if she does, it will be her idea, not mine.
Dayton Warm Breezes
Will 2017 be the year of naturism acceptance? was interesting and hopeful but I think it was overly optimistic. Many of the examples of what he saw as positive signs of public acceptance of nudity were TV programs that censored the nudity through blurring and pixelation. Perhaps society (American society) is becoming more tolerant and accepting of the idea of nudity in entertainment media as long as certain lines are not crossed such as the explicit display of genitalia and female nipples, thus the need for blurring and pixelation. As long as no one actually sees those body parts, it’s acceptable.
We accept nudity as entertainment because it titillates viewers and television producers know that the implication of nudity brings in ratings. Generally, we are nowhere near ready to accept non-sexual nudity in real life. There are still too many people who can’t accept non-sexual nudity in places where one would reasonably expect nudity, places like locker rooms and changing rooms. Some point out that events such as the World Naked Bike Rides are accepted but I’d venture to say that many spectators at these events view them as entertainment.
This past weekend I ventured up to my old stomping grounds to attend a mini high school reunion. I stayed at my dad’s place. He has a guest room upstairs which is the only air conditioned room in the house with a small window unit.
When I retired to the guest room for the night, I stripped down and slept in the nude, as is my custom. Even with the AC on, it was still quite warm so I slept atop the covers. Upon awakening in the morning, I set up my laptop to do some journaling and, naturally remained nude. I soon noticed that this naked time experience felt different from my naked time at home. There was a relative quiet and stillness that I don’t have at home where my naked time is often in a room where I’m surrounded by my computers, my books, and much of my stuff. Here, at my Dad’s house, which is out in the country and nearly surrounded by a nature preserve, I had only my laptop and my phone, and no Internet access. It was pretty much just me, in my natural state with very few distractions. Feeling comfortable and at peace, I wrote in my journal and even took advantage of the quiet and solitude to meditate for about 10 minutes.
I need to try to recreate the experience at home. Unfortunately, I don’t have such an idyllic setting here in the suburbs but I think that perhaps I can reduce or eliminate many of the distractions in my surroundings and try to create, the base I can, the peace, the quiet, and the solitude I felt in that country guest room.
Will Americans ever “get out” of the Nudist Colony? ~ Naturist Dan, The Meandering Nudist
This article resonated with me as it expresses many of my own frustrations, disappointments, and disillusionments with nudism in America.
Some things have improved in the past 20 years. Many venues now have a Web and social media presence and with the Internet, Google maps, and GPS, nudist venues are not as hard to find although some are still hard to actually get to. Many are still out in the middle of nowhere or deep in the woods. There are still remarkably few venues in urban and suburban areas.
Judging from images of “classic” nudism of about 50 years ago and what I’ve seen at resorts I’ve visited, the recreational offerings don’t seem to have changed much. Not having ever been on a resort vacation, maybe I really don’t know what I should expect. Yet, somehow, I do expect a little more.
When I first became a naturist, the draw of the opportunity to be nude with others and to swim and lie in the sun nude was enough. Over the years that hasn’t been enough of a draw for me to put other things aside and make the effort to set aside the time, make arrangements to visit, and then make the effort to travel an hour or more for the sole purpose of being nude for a few hours.
Naturist Dan also comments on how some venues are more restrictive than they were in the past. I understand that with the prevalence of camera in cell phones, concerns about sexual predators, and other concerns that pervade our society. Since my significant other has no interest in nudism or naturism, I am considered a “single” male should I visit a venue. I understand concerns about gender imbalance or wayward husbands but it’s one more obstacle.
Nudity needs to be acceptable outside the “colonies”, outside the 8-foot walls of our nudist reservations. Events like the naked bike rides and Fantasy Fest aren’t signs of acceptance of the nudist or naturist lifestyle, but of acceptance of nudity as entertainment. In America, the most highly valued commodity is entertainment. Above all else, we want to be entertained and nudity is entertaining even if we privately condemn those who parade nude for us. Righteous condemnation is an added benefit.
Today, I read a series of articles by Lim, a naturist who lives in Taiwan. In his blog posts, he describes in words and photos his experiences at a week-long hiking excursion in the Swiss Alps. The event has taken place annually for the past 12 years. One thing about this that I found interesting was that the event’s organizer encourages the participants to take photos and post them online.
Next, and this should really be a first criterion, you have got to be a REAL naturist. Richard’s rules are clear. His activities are for naturists and giving publicity to them is the surest way of getting more people to join us or to organise similar hikes elsewhere. The rules of the hike are people are encouraged to take photos and post them online. And this is a great draw for me. I have mentioned elsewhere that I can’t go to a place that forbids the camera and I really have no time for closet nudists who treat nudity as if it were a forbidden fruit that should be tasted in secret and anonymity. If we are serious about promoting naturism, we must treat nudity as normal and natural and taking photos and posting them should be encouraged. Richard has got it absolutely right. This also makes it easier for me to post photos without having to ask for the consent of everyone whose face appears in the pics.
That makes sense. Maybe it’s time we put aside our fear of being “outed” as nudists.
Nude Hiking in the Alps – An Overview
Body acceptance is the idea…Nude recreation is the way.
Lee Baxandall, founder of the Naturist Society
Body acceptance is a beginning, not an end in itself.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea of body acceptance in the naturist sense and in a broader sense. As a naturist, I’ve had a tendency to think of it in a personal way, accepting my own body as it is. That’s a starting point from which one builds. And nude recreation certainly had a role in helping me to accept my body.
As I thought about it, I began to think about the broader application of the concept, about accepting every body as it is. It occurred to me that this broader application has been there all along and I’ve been working on applying it, with varying success since my first naturist experience. Body acceptance of all bodies is, like for the individual, a starting point. Once we accept people at the physical level, we can accept them for their other aspects, their beliefs, their political views, their sexual orientation, and their gender identification. I’m not saying it’s easy to accept people for all they are, but if we can accept them at the mundane physical level, we have something we can work from.
No, I’m not there yet. I’m not sure that I am 100% accepting of my own body all the time, but I’m working on it. I’m also working on acceptance in the broader sense too. No, it’s not easy. But I think it’s worthwhile.
One Thing I’ve Wondered About Nudists
A non-nudist blogger asked, “How do men who are nudists avoid getting erections?” That seems to be a fair question. I’ve read other articles about nudism that he’s written and he genuinely seems to want to understand why people practice nudism.
One thing I’ve wondered about nudists:
How do men who are nudists avoid getting erections?
I would think that a man would be having frequent orgasms because of the female nudity that he is seeing in a place like a nudist camp.
I’ve heard that people bring towels to places like nudist camps, in order to keep germs from spreading. I imagine it isn’t a good feeling to sit on a towel that’s been covered with semen, since a man has to wipe himself clean with it so many times, or make frequent trips to the bathroom in order to clean himself or experience his orgasms in private. And I imagine it would also be awkward for a man to be introduced to a nudist woman, and for her to clearly see that he is experiencing an orgasm because of her naked body.
Many “textiles” live in a world where they are constantly bombarded by sexual imagery in advertising and entertainment media and have been taught since a young age that the human body is shameful and that seeing nudity invariably leads to sexual arousal, impure thoughts, temptation, or intercourse. It may hard for them to imagine a scenario where nudity is not intended to arouse or titillate, a context where everyone treats nakedness as completely natural and unremarkable. It has to be experienced to be believed.
I can’t speak for anyone else but I’ve never really given much thought to how I avoid getting erections in a nudist setting. I’ve never gotten an erection in a nudist setting and I’ve never seen anyone else get one either. I don’t now how I do it and I don’t make any sort of conscious effort to avoid it; it just hasn’t happened to me.
I haven’t found nudist settings to be sexually charged or erotic even when surrounded by people I might find sexually attractive. There isn’t a sexual vibe. I find more of a sexual vibe at a public pool or beach. where everyone is in a swimming costume. Some swimsuits barely cover what needs to be covered under the law and often draws attention to those places causing one to wonder what’s underneath. Of course, we all know what’s underneath but that it’s hidden in a revealing way lets our imaginations run while. In a nudist environment, nothing is hidden and we see that it’s pretty much the same as everyone else’s. It’s not a big deal.
I’ve found that nudism/naturism is attitude and a mindset where being nude is just another option and, after a while, it feels normal and comfortable. For some the normality and comfort comes sooner than for others. Remember that our largest sex organ is our brain, our mind. We have control over our thoughts.
Today Facebook presented me with the following memory from seven years ago:
“Had that dream where I was the only one naked. In this dream everyone was totally oblivious to my nudity. It was no big deal. Cool, eh?”
In the past decade, I haven’t found the infamous naked dream to be about insecurity, fear, and embarrassment. My naked dreams are usually the exact opposite. They’re about confidence, freedom, and comfort. In my naked dreams, I’m usually engaged in normal, everyday activities and generally no one takes notices of my nudity, even if I’m the only one naked. It’s a shame that the real world isn’t more like the clothing optional world of my dreams.
Yet another day set aside to do something naked. Reading, like so many other activities, is something that I prefer to do whilst in my natural state, yet due to infringements from the textile world, I do not not have enough opportunities to pursue it in in that way. Today was no exception. Life goes on and sometimes leisure activities, both clothed and unclothed, must yield to more pressing matters or to circumstances that do no allow for optimum conditions.
Maybe next year. But then again, why do I need a special day to peruse a tome whilst devoid cumbersome clothing? All I need is a good book and some privacy. Free the mind and the body.