Getting naked is refreshing, exhilarating and fun, not to mention it feels good. One of the best illustrations of what it’s all about is posted on The Naturist Society website, and I thought I would share with you here.
What is naturism?
Naturism, or nudism as it is sometimes called, is generally defined as the practice of going nude, especially in a mixed social setting. While accurate as far as it goes, the standard definition fails to grasp the “why” of naturism — why do people choose to be naturists? Individual responses to that question vary greatly. For some, naturism is a carefully considered lifestyle; for others, it is no more complicated than a day at the nearest nude beach. What connects these two extremes is the sense of freedom naturist activities provide. It may be a matter of simple comfort-first-time skinny-dippers frequently marvel at how good it feels to be clothes-free-or there may be something more profound. For many, the social nudity that helps define naturism is personally liberating; through it, we come not only to accept ourselves but others. As we say here at The Naturist Society, “Body Acceptance is the Idea, Nude Recreation is the Way.”
Who are “the naturists”?
Broadly speaking, anyone who practices nude recreation, social nudity, or both. By that standard, there are many millions of naturists worldwide, especially in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. According to a 2006 Roper Poll, one in four Americans-roughly 70 million people-have skinny-dipped or sunbathed in the nude. And while not all of them are naturists, the rapid growth the nude recreation industry has experienced in recent years suggests many are. No longer confined to small, secretive enclaves, today’s naturists have a variety of recreational and social outlets. Publicly owned sites like Miami-Dade County’s Haulover Beach, Long Island’s Fire Island, Toronto’s Hanlan’s Point, and San Diego’s Black’s Beach now welcome naturists, as do hundreds of clubs, resorts, and campgrounds across North America.
What do naturists mean when they talk about “social nudity” and “nude recreation”?
A number of things. But first, it’s important to know what they don’t mean. Misconceptions aside, naturism is not a code word for “sex” (see below). When naturists talk about “social nudity” and “nude recreation” they mean just that-nude group activities. The variety of activities varies tremendously. There are nude backpackers, canoeists, kayakers, scuba divers-even skydivers. For less adventurous types, there is everything from the traditional day trip to the nude beach or swimming hole to house parties, chartered cruises and weekend excursions to nude resorts or campgrounds. Most things that can be done clothed can be done unclothed-and usually it’s a lot more fun.
What about the law; isn’t “social nudity” illegal?
This gets a bit complicated, but the short answer is “no.” As indicated above, there are public beaches where nudity is perfectly legal. So too are there private clubs and resorts that are either clothing-optional, or where nudity is actually required. Legality is seldom an issue at these places. Nonetheless, while laws that specifically prohibit nudity and equate it with “indecent exposure” are rare, that shouldn’t be taken as an invitation to get naked “anytime, anyplace.” If you undress in the village square, you’re likely to get arrested for something-be it indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, or creating a public nuisance. Even if the law is on your side, public nudity is problematic in many jurisdictions. An arrest sometimes depends not on what the law says, but on what police or prosecutors think it says or want it to say. In some places, women are still harassed for breastfeeding in public, and parents are still prosecuted for taking innocent nude photos of their children. In more enlightened jurisdictions, a sharp distinction is made between lewd activity and simple nudity, such as sunbathing and skinny-dipping (for a state by state review of nudity laws, go to NAC & NEF). Part of the TNS mission is to highlight the difference between lewd and nude through education and community outreach.
Is naturism appropriate for families?
Absolutely! Naturism is about body acceptance and body awareness, which makes it appropriate for everyone. Therefore, families with children are welcome at naturist venues and events. Any venue or event that purports to be “naturist” but excludes children should be viewed with skepticism. Such exclusions are appropriate in some cases. A grueling nude hike or a late evening dance at a club or resort come to mind. But the exclusion of children is sometimes used as a signal that an event is sexual in nature. The Naturist Society has no interest in passing judgment on sexual activities among consenting adults; however, TNS adamantly rejects the use of the term “naturism” as a cover for sexual activity. Naturists do not deny the sexual nature of human beings, but they reject the all too prevalent view in our society that nudity and sex are synonymous, and that children should be “protected” from nudity regardless of context. To repeat: nude is not lewd.