Perceptions About Social Nudity

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An Essay by Larry Darter:

Society often creates and perpetuates stereotypes without malicious intent, yet stereotypes often lead to discrimination against and intolerance of social groups when the stereotypes used to judge them are generally unfavorable.

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Stereotyping has its roots in experiences people have had themselves, what they have read or seen in the media and in disinformation related to them by friends and family. In virtually every case stereotypical generalizations are inaccurate. Unfavorable generalizations may also be perpetuated when a series of isolated behaviors by a minority group of members identified with a particular group are unfairly assumed the defining behavior of all members of that group.

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Common Stereotypes Relating to Naturism

Naturists are one example of a group that is frequently the target of stereotypical judgments. Naturism, the practice of going nude in social, especially mixed social settings, also provides a good example of the negative prejudices that faulty generalizations can produce.

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In present-day American society, social nudity is not particularly or generally accepted. The only “public” venues open to those who embrace naturism are private property, such as privately owned nudist clubs or resorts and slivers of well-delineated, often remote public lands that have been designated as clothing-optional.

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Nudity is a taboo in America, principally because of the heritage of Puritan and Victorian moral codes that have forged the link between nakedness and sexuality. The proliferation of pornography and existence of social nudity fringe elements like “swingers” contribute to the view that nudity and sexuality are inseparably linked. Sexual taboos are transferred to nudity by inference. Many non-naturists perceive naturists as having sexually malicious intentions. At best naturists are viewed as eccentrics, at worst as sexual perverts.

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A more benign generalization made of naturists is that they are primarily older, unattractive, over-weight people who do not have body types that are attractive to look upon when nude. Images present on naturist websites and in printed media seem to suggest an element of truth to this stereotype. Many older and over-weight people are depicted. Yet the stereotype fails to consider that “ideal” body types portrayed in advertising and pornography are inaccurate distortions of what naked people really look like.

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Deconstructing the Myths of Stereotypical Naturism

Perhaps more tolerance would be extended towards naturists if people took time to learn the facts about naturism. Naturists believe that clothing is primarily used by people to mask or hide themselves and to establish social status and rank. When clothing comes off, social distinctions disappear creating more authentic human interaction with fewer pretenses and posturing, revealing the real person.

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Social nudity promotes body acceptance and higher self-esteem. It becomes self-evident that most people look pretty much the same when naked. The reality is that most naked human bodies bear little resemblance to the air-brushed, “perfect” images depicted in media stereotypes. Body acceptance promotes acceptance of one’s own body and the bodies of others in spite of differences in age, weight and shape and counters unhealthy attitudes like feelings of shame over being nude that most people are conditioned from childhood to feel.

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Naturists do not deny all connection between nudity and sexuality yet explain that sexuality is not the motivation for naturists. Naturism is about discourse not intercourse. Strict rules of etiquette exist for social nudity interaction. Harassment, staring or gawking, overt attempts to draw attention to genitalia and sexual acts are all prohibited conduct. Naturists often remark that the uninitiated would be greatly surprised to learn just how far from a sexually charged atmosphere naturist gatherings really are.

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According to the International Naturist Federation, naturism is “a lifestyle in harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity, and characterized by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.” This definition goes a long ways towards explaining why naturists are not content with practicing nudity in the privacy of their own homes but see outdoor nudity as a critical element to experiencing the benefits of the lifestyle.

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Naturists want to enjoy the same recreational activities as others like swimming, hiking, boating and camping. They simply prefer to enjoy those activities without wearing clothes because they feel more at harmony with nature and the environment and feel greater personal freedom while nude.

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Most naturists do not wish to offend and do not lobby for the right to appear naked in every conceivable public place and circumstance. They seek only reasonable clothing- optional access to public beaches and lands where they can have the freedom to enjoy outdoor recreation in the manner they prefer, free from hostility and fear of legal sanctions.

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Cultivating Tolerance

Tolerance of others who are different is an accepted character attribute in people of any society. Tolerance does not necessitate approval of practices one has no desire to participate in or disagrees with. Tolerance simply involves respecting the rights of others to be different and act differently as long as it does not impinge unreasonably on the rights of others.

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Understanding the nature of stereotypes, generalizations, prejudice and discrimination is the first step in cultivating tolerance. Every person has prejudices, it is simply human nature. People should, however, in the interest of intellectual honesty, consider that fairness is compromised when they discriminate against others because of personal prejudices. Many people believe that every human being deserves respect and freedom to practice unhindered, activities that make life more meaningful for them as long as there is no harm to others or real infringement on the rights of others. After all, personal freedom is one of the hallmarks of democracy.

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Private Exits

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Curiosity makes the world go around. Many of us grow up believing human anuses are somehow repugnant; therefore they aren’t curious about them, or at least will never admit it. For the rest of us, it’s a sight rarely seen, even if you are a nudist, so we are grateful we have those who spread their cheeks and post their anuses on the Internet. Here is a fine sampling.

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Without Our Clothes

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I'm not a nudists but/and:

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Are you a nudists?

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Being Naked

The topics on Enlightened Male generally involve an appreciation for the human form or human sexuality, leaning toward male bisexuality and how that affects both men and women. You probably agree that these topics could use better understanding in our society. However, male sexuality, specifically bisexuality and homosexuality, pertain to a relatively narrow percentage of the male population. On the other hand, social nudity pertains to us all, both male and female, though most people can’t possibly imagine how naturism or nudists relates to them.

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Most people, for myriad reasons, will never take off their clothes in public, not even on a beach and certainly not at a nudist resort. They will never know the exhilaration or the liberating sense of freedom that social nudity provides for those who participate; which is why, even though I am largely preaching to the choir on this site, I like to promote clothes free lifestyles, whether that be in the privacy of ones own home or a social setting. That’s why I am entertaining the idea of featuring more posts on this subject. If I can reach just one naysayer, just one neophyte that believes he or she will never have the courage to take off their clothes in front of others, well, at least that’s something. Either way, the rest of us that already know and currently enjoy getting naked will enjoy the wholesome, carefree pictures I will post.

I’d like to hear your take on more posts on this subject.

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One would think a man would be distracted by a woman’s body among a group of nudists, but no more than he would be in a group of people fully clothed. He isn’t distracted … she is simply the female version of us. He is just glad to be there, meeting new people, making new friends. He may, just as he may in the every day clothed world, see a woman that he finds attractive. He may even approach her to introduce himself, but being naked somehow changes the dynamic. As the couple becomes acquainted and begins to know each other, the tensions and distractions aren’t present. It’s almost as if the foundation to a wonderful friendship or potential romance already exists because of the automatic connection nudists share.

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the nude human body depicted with an artistic slant.

So where does he fit in the scheme of things? He is his own unique edition of the male version of us, not judged by his size or shape, the color of his hair or skin, the length of his penis, or his social status. He, along with all the other varieties of males and females that make up the whole of humanity simply fit in. He knows nudists have an automatic connection with each other. They are all naked, enjoying the freedom to enjoy their bodies among others doing the same. They are living life in a way only a nudist can understand, not that they are weird, perverted or over-sexed. They have simply discovered how refreshing it is to celebrate the human body in its many forms, and be free of fear and misguided rules.

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Many people are curious. They feel an urge to know what it’s like to take off their clothes and enjoy their bodies with friends or in a social setting, yet they can’t bring themselves to take that first step. They are conflicted, finding themselves listening to the demon that tells them nudity is wrong, that naked bodies are disgusting or shameful. They are weighted by years of indoctrination that has instilled the notion nudity is wrong. And every time they stand naked before a mirror, they grapple with what they see as a flawed body, implanted by Hollywood and the advertising world that tell them what the human body should look like.

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Actually taking your clothes off in front of others, especially for women, can be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done. For some the angst that builds up inside is a physical pain. You see others walking around naked, acting as if it is perfectly normal, but still it doesn’t register that it’s something everyday day people do. Your mind is telling you that it’s not for you. Yet you screw up your courage and begin to take off your clothes, soon finding yourself completely naked in front of people you may know or have never seen before.

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Depending on how thoroughly conditioned you have been, or your religious beliefs, or your worries about what other people might think, you eventually settle into the idea that being naked isn’t quite as bad as you thought. No one is staring at you. If anyone approaches, they greet you as if they don’t even realize your clothes are off. At this point many people begin to feel like they fit in, that being naked is nothing like they thought it was. They begin to actually enjoy the feeling of freedom, the exhilaration. Before the day’s end, they wonder what took them so long to take the plunge.

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The pictures in this post represent endless varieties of the human form. Yes some of these people are quite attractive and pleasant to look at, but are any of them perfect? Any one of them would probably tell you what they don’t like about their bodies. But they have gotten past the fear of being judged. They have discovered the world of nudism is a welcoming, accepting place. They have learned to enjoy and appreciate their bodies despite their self-perceived flaws.

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This is a wonderful age to become a nudist, when you are young and optimistic and have all the energy of youth. It sets up a lifetime of positive self-esteem and the opportunity to develop great friendships.

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Body Acceptance Down Under

When I ran across this piece on body acceptance by Taryn Brumfitt, I felt compelled to share it with you here. At odds with her body most of her life, Taryn has set out on a mission to not only get comfortable in her own skin, but help as many women as she can learn to love their own bodies. This article is about the day she signed up for the Sydney Skinny, an annual event where hundreds of Australians get naked and go for an ocean swim. Taryn describes the way the experience changed her life.

(I have added photos to help illustrate the wholesomeness of body acceptance and social nudity.)

The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!

Taryn Brumfitt

“Look over there, another woman with only one boob!”

Screamed the sarong-clad stranger standing next to me.

I was puzzled and turned to her and asked, “What do you mean?” She pulled down her sarong and showed me her chest, on one side a breast, the other side a scar. I peered in the direction she had pointed, and another woman with a similar appearance was proudly walking out of the water.

I watched as two complete strangers joyfully connected with one another. No words were required, just one look of recognition, a smile and then an embrace. I was in tears, a blubbering mess. It was the purest form of human connection, kindness, courage and love and a story was unfolding before my very eyes.

In the course of one day my life has changed forever. I am a better human being;  I have experienced more joy than I’ll ever be able to express. I didn’t get married, I didn’t save someone’s life, nor did I rescue a small animal. I simply took my clothes off and swam in the ocean with more than a thousand strangers.

Much better!

The two ladies that have had mastectomies

The Sydney Skinny is an event like no other; it is the world’s largest nude ocean swim and happens each year at the stunning Cobblers Cove in Sydney. The event is a celebration of body acceptance and encourages participants to reconnect with their sense of adventure.

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Here’s how the day unfolded for me:

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling slightly uneasy that I had engaged in a hearty feast of curry and chocolate cake the evening before. Seriously Taryn, could you not have shown some restraint on the food front before you partook in a nude swim?

It wasn’t so much the roundness of my tummy that was that bothering me but rather at what stage of the morning I would be “offloading” the previous night’s indulgences.

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I arrived at Cobblers Cove early, filled with anticipation, excitement and nerves. Getting my clothes off in front of strangers is not something I’ve ever done. I walked around welcoming people with a smile and an air of assurance that could’ve been mistaken for confidence and bucket loads of experience in the nudity arena.  We know this not to be true.

When I got to the beach, the first thing I saw was a penis. Yep, a man’s penis and oddly, it wasn’t my husband’s. Then I saw another, and another and another.

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Within minutes, a penis was a penis and a vagina was a vagina, and we were all just human beings. Nothing more: nothing less. Nothing scandalous, nothing dirty or creepy and nothing remarkable.

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I eased myself into the water and immediately felt a sense of release, pleasure and freedom. The feeling of the water on my skin as I glided through it was delightful. The endorphin rush of being unclothed and doing something I had never done before was magical. This was life, and I was living it.

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I was in the zone that, sadly, we rarely experience. I was out of the comfort zone and basking in what I describe as the sparkle zone. I felt utterly euphoric and deliriously happy.

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And I wasn’t alone. I heard people squealing with joy exclaiming, “I never want to swim with clothes on again!” and I saw others joyfully hugging as if they had just been reunited after a lifetime apart. There were high fives, people laughing and people rejoicing.

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It got me thinking that to effect a transformative change in a person’s life it requires an action to be taken (think Anthony Robbins’ fire walk). Water is an element that has been used as a purifier in many religions. Could participation in the event be the 21st century’s non-religious “psychological cleanse” that helps individuals lay their body image demons to rest? Is it possible to walk into the water with body image worries and walk out with an undeterred commitment to learn to love and respect your body more? I believe so.And of course there were two women chatting, hugging and bonding over their shared mastectomy journey. One of the ladies explained to me how big a deal it was for her to do the swim, to get naked in front of other people and to face her fear. But looking into her sparkling eyes after she had completed the swim, I saw nothing but pride and happiness. When asked if she would do it again, the answer was a resounding YES!

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Amongst the thousand people who were there on the day, I didn’t hear one person judge another. I didn’t hear one person complain about their stretch marks, cellulite or jelly belly. People were just people; there were no barriers, there was no discrimination or prejudice. People were kind to themselves and kind to each other.

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If you want to feel comfortable in the skin you are in then maybe it’s time to take the dip of a lifetime. All you’ll need is a little bit of self-belief, an inkling of courage and your beautiful, bare, pure and authentic skin.

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