Social nudity is not for everyone, but only because most people cannot imagine taking their clothes off in a group setting. Many believe social nudity is abnormal, immoral or perverted. Many automatically associate nudity with sex, therefore those who participate in social nudity must be sex addicts, exhibitionist and voyeurs. Of course nothing is further from the truth.
People have negative views about social nudity because they have been taught from an early age that the human body is shameful, that it’s wrong to expose your body to anyone other than your spouse, and some people are reluctant to do even that. They’ve been influenced by their parents, the media, religion and government. Except for the minority that have listened to their instincts, that recognize the human body is a wonderful creation that should be enjoyed and celebrated, most people have developed mindsets that will never allow them to see social nudity as a joyful, enlightening experience.
If you had grown up in a home where your parents had no reservations about walking around the house nude, you would have done the same thing. You would have grown up believing nudity is natural and that there are circumstances where there is no reason to wear clothes. When you noticed your father’s penis was bigger, you would have assumed yours would be too when you are older, just like the rest of the body. When you were old enough to be curious about pubic hair, your mother would have told you it’s part of being an adult. You would have grown up wondering why anyone would think the human body is shameful. You wouldn’t understand why anyone thinks there is something immoral about not wearing clothes.
So the fact is social nudity is indeed for everyone. The only reason so many disagree is because of what they were taught growing up. Children simply are not ashamed of their bodies; they are taught their bodies are shameful. It’s the same doctrine as religion. If you were born and raised in Israel, you will almost certainly believe in the Jewish faith; in the Middle East you will believe in the Muslim faith; in a Catholic household you will believe in the Catholic faith; that is if you believe in any religion at all. In a household that rejects nudity, you will grow up believing social nudity is immoral.
Here a dad is spending time with his daughters. They’ve seen him and their mother nude since their earliest memory. Their nudity is incidental. They are likely a more closely bonded family because all the barriers between them have been removed.
Perhaps, even if you have been raised to believe nudity is immoral, you have a secret desire to find out what social nudity is all about. Perhaps you’re wondering if you are brave enough to try it and are wondering how. The following essay tells us how one lady in California went about it.
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“There is a workshop at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. They have two areas where clothing is optional — the swimming pool and around the natural hot tubs. I think clothing is optional down on the edge of the ocean, as well.
I grew up in New England, home of the Puritans. Nudity was not something I saw growing up in my family or anywhere else, really. It was not something I was used to.
But I believed that the body should not be an object of shame. I believed there was no reason in particular, other than social convention, that we should have to remain clothed for modesty’s sake. The notion of nudity being non-modest per se never made much sense to me. It’s just convention, and convention can be changed if you are in a group that holds to a different convention.
At Esalen, nudity is perfectly acceptable. But it isn’t required. What I found was that after spending a day in an intense workshop with people, that going to the hot tubs showed me yet another side of people.
When clothes came off, so did any remaining barriers between us. People became more open when their clothes were off. Somehow, they seemed more like themselves. They could say the things they wanted to. They seemed more honest. More friendly and loving. The conversations in the nude were more like conversations that some people seem to need drugs to have. It wasn’t so much that inhibitions were lessened, although they did seem to be, but that it was the kind on inhibitions — not about sex, but about being forthcoming and authentic. As I said, people seemed more like themselves.
I also found my judgments about bodies slipping away. Sure, I noticed the elderly woman was carrying a lot of weight, but it didn’t matter. We weren’t competing on looks. We weren’t competing at all. We were just sharing ourselves openly. It seemed to me that being naked had a lot to do with that. Without our clothes as our false fronts, we were simply ourselves. The symbolic lack of semblance turned into a real openness.
Being nude with other people is a process. At first, your mind will be running crazy. Can I really do this? What will people think? All those self-conscious thoughts.
But after a while, when you see everyone else is nude and no one else is hurting you for it, you start to relax. Then, in the hot water with the beautiful ocean and surrounded by authentic people, you start to really let go of your need to pretend. To act like your clothes are you. You start being able to be yourself.
I would give into the process as best you can, but also trust that these things will happen, whether you are ready for them or not. The nudity itself will almost require that you open up. It almost forces you to feel safe. This probably sounds a little ridiculous, but that was my experience, and the experience of others I spoke with.