As I’ve been quite active on Twitter in the last couple of years, specifically within the naturist community there, a few patterns have emerged for me.
Twitter has become one of the best social media spaces where nudists can gather. The administrators or algorithms (or both) have overreacted to nudists on Twitter in some cases, but by and large we are allowed to be - and to be ourselves. The community is large and thriving. (Taylor Lorenz published an article on the subject in the Atlantic Online in 2017, and surprisingly, not much has changed since.)
The nudist Twitter community is also vibrant, and vocal. There are a number of nudists who have plenty to say about social justice, inclusion, and diversity in the nudist community. Some are locked accounts (which is a shame, but understandable) but you would do well to start with someone like @AlmostWildBlog to see the kinds of fruitful discussions that are emerging on the platform these days.
One of the primary interests of nudists on Twitter, though, is promoting nudism itself. Campaigns like #NormalizeNudity and #NakedInNature are designed to capture non-nudists’ attention (and bare skin always seems to grab people’s attention) and then hit them with positive messages about non-sexual social nudity.
Others try to promote nudism by putting themselves out there, unashamedly nude. The thinking is that showing real people enjoying themselves nude - not models, just regular people with regular bodies - will send the message that nudity truly is for everyone.
But there is another kind of “promotion” for nudity, one that the nudist community has to reject fully and completely.
A number of accounts post a steady stream of photos of nude people, often with similar hashtags about promoting nudity and nudism. The photos are all pretty much the same: slim young people, almost always women, almost always white. No two photos show the same person: they come from a variety of sources, including porn sites, voyeur photo collections, and - infuriatingly - legitimate nudist Twitter accounts.
There are a couple more significant characteristics for these accounts as well.
That last point is really the problem. They’re not promoting nudism, they’re promoting a business. And they’re exploiting nudists to do it.
And nudists not only let them get away with it - they help them out.
The reason I know so many of these exploitative spam accounts exist is because other nudists - real, legitimate nudists, as far as I can tell - help them out. They follow these accounts, like their posts, and sometimes even retweet them.
Maybe these legitimate users think they’re helping to promote nudism when they help promote these accounts. Or maybe they notice that their retweets of nude women get them more likes and follows than they usually get.
In the long run, though, every like, retweet, and follow is damaging to the nudist movement.
These accounts play into the same narratives we know are barriers to our society’s acceptance of nudism: nudism is about seeing attractive nude people. Nudism is about sexualizing bodies (especially younger, slimmer, female ones). Nudism is about looking at naked people, not being naked oneself. Nudism is reserved for people who are young, slim, and conventionally good-looking.
And by following, liking, and retweeting their posts, nudists are complicit in spreading these damaging myths.
Every interaction with these accounts is a step backwards for naturism.
So please, nudists, be careful about your activities on Twitter. Avoid these transparently problematic accounts. Don’t give them any more attention than they deserve. And most of all, stop helping to exploit and commodify your fellow naturists.
What do you think of these accounts - are they helping or hindering nudism? Are there any problematic accounts you’ve seen other nudists promoting? What can we do about it? Tell me in the comments!
I’ve been writing some nudist fiction lately, and the experience has given me reason to think about nudist fiction in general. I know of a number of nudist authors out there right now, actively self-publishing their fiction. Some are extremely prolific, publishing several or even dozens of short fiction works every year. Others are more in the traditional author mode, writing and publishing a full-length novel every year or two, and doing plenty of promotional work in between.
I’m impressed with how vibrant and industrious the nudist fiction world is. I read as much nudist fiction as I can, and I like and respect the authors. I even count some of them as friends, if only online friends.
But writing good naturist fiction is difficult.
The problem isn’t about the writing or the stories themselves. Instead, it’s the essential problem with nudism and fiction. As I have written more fiction, I’ve found that there are a number of traps that are far too easy to fall into.
The problem is that there is nothing amazing, nothing even remarkable, about nudity once you’re a nudist. You’re naked? Well, sure, whenever you can be. It’s nice to be naked? Yes, that’s true. Others around you are naked? Sure, nothing crazy there. It’s barely worth commenting on. You’ve seen it all before.
That means that, as an author, I find that my stories tend to go in one of two ways: the “nudism is great” direction, or the “nudism is unremarkable” direction. Neither results in good storytelling.
One of the easiest traps I fell into when I started writing nudist fiction, whether I imagined my audience to be nudists or not, was to have characters who tell each other how great nudism is. Any character who is even halfway curious about nudism - say, a protagonist who wants to be romantically involved with a nudist, but is reluctant to shed his or her own hangups about nudity - becomes a reason to talk about how wonderful nudism is. And by the end of a story, I find all my characters agree: nudism is great, and we should all be naturists.
Any story needs a good antagonist, and the obvious choice is a character in a position of legal or moral authority who is against nudism. They’ll want to make a nudist beach clothing-required, or arrest nudists, or make them lose their job - the typical fears that most nudists live with every day. This is one of the few sources of conflict for a group of nudists, and the story quickly becomes focused on neutralizing the antagonist’s threat. But when I head down this road, the antagonist starts to sound like a cliche. I think this is because I’m not thinking about the antagonist as a real person, but trying to fit one into the nudist world.
Yet another trap is to keep adding characters who are nudists, wannabe nudists, prior nudists, and free spirits who really think nudism is something they want to try. You need multiple nudists just to have a useful range of points of view to examine the nudist ideas in the story. The problem is that it’s highly unrealistic to find so many nudists in one place, unless you set the story in a well-populated nudist resort.
It’s also far too easy to find oneself, as an author, lecturing the reader. Of course, I want my fiction to represent my values as an ethical naturist. But that just leads to long-winded lectures, from one character to another, about the positives of naturism. The health benefits. The improvements to mind and soul. The philosophical reasons for shared nudity. Their own personal inspirational story.
Of course, because I do believe what the characters are saying, they deliver the lectures to an eagerly listening audience, without any substantive objection. Just for variety, I’ll throw in a comment - “Yes, I agree, and...” or “Well what about [easily countered protest]?” But what I’m really doing is creating a backdrop for the speaking character to expound on his or her personal philosophy. But I know that this is unrealistic, because in real life, people tend to avoid maniacs who talk like this. (People often think that nudism is a kind of cult, and it doesn’t help to write about it as if it is!)
I realize that what I’m really doing is telling nudists that nudism is great. It seems extremely unlikely that anyone would be more interested in trying nudism after reading this kind of writing.
When I step back from my work and discover it’s gone in this direction, I realize it’s unlikely that someone unsympathetic to nudism would even get through the story. I think I’m really writing these stories for myself, not for the reader. The plot is a thin veil that covers the real reason for the book: to talk about my own interest in nudism.
There’s nothing wrong with a happily-ever-after ending, or writing about the positive aspects of nudism. But fiction also needs to be interesting and engaging. If I don’t sincerely tackle difficult ideas, it won’t attract a reader - and that’s not a success for a writer.
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Too often I’ve started out a story where the main character is a nudist, possibly with a spouse or family, who are also nudists. They live in a nudist-friendly area, like the south of France or a nudist community in Florida. They have some nudist friends, but for the most part they don’t find anything remarkable in being nudists - it’s just a normal part of their lives.
Usually I’ll find some kind of minor conflict to bring in - say, something with the board of their local nudist resort, maybe a project that they are undertaking, maybe someone unfriendly that they have to contend with. So they deal with whatever issues they have, at least mostly successfully. Often I’ll bring in other nudists, or include a nudist gathering along the way.
In writing this kind of story, I take pains not to even reference people’s bodies or nudity, because the characters are so used to nudity, it wouldn’t occur to them to mention it. They might note some nude activities, like practicing nude yoga. Instead of the characters talking about being nudists - which, again, once you’re a nudist, you rarely do - I might have them note, in passing, nudist magazines sitting around the house, maybe some nude art on the walls. And they will cover themselves when a non-nudist stops by. But for the most part, nudism is there, in the background, just a regular part of their reality.
This approach accurately reflects, for me, how many nudists live their lives. When you’ve been nude around the house a few times, you stop thinking about it. When you’re nude all the time with your spouse, you don’t notice their breasts or penis any more than you would notice their t-shirt or boxer shorts. It’s nothing crazy, nothing to get excited over. It just is.
But when I realize that this is where one of my stories is going, my reaction is… why?
It might be a realistic depiction of nudism, and that’s a good thing. It’s an approving and sympathetic view of nudism, which I definitely want to promote.
But it’s always so dull. So very, very dull. If I were the reader, I doubt I’d make it past the third or fourth page.
Although I haven’t set out specifically to write this kind of story, it’s a common nudist trope, and one that I’ve found some story outlines straying towards as I plan out my work. The setup usually involves one person discovering that another person is a nudist, then reluctantly trying it out. (For the sake of tension, it’s typical to make them of opposite sexes.)
These stories inevitably drive towards a scene where the non-nudist first undresses in front of the nudist. Maybe it’s because for those of us who became nudists later in life, the memory of this moment remains so vivid. As an author, I’m tempted to describe every sensation, physical and mental. This almost guarantees a sexual undertone at the very least. Even if I keep the story from becoming overtly sexual, its interest and drive is from the sexual tension that the nudity generates between the characters.
I’ve played with a variety of situations when I’ve attempted to outline a story like this. One character discovers that another is, unexpectedly, a nudist. One character convinces another that nudity isn’t so bad in one specific case (art, swimming, painting a house) and gradually convinces them to try it. But whatever the situation, the dynamic is the same, and the same well-worn tropes always seem to accompany it.
Despite having ideas for stories like this, in the end I am not comfortable with this kind of nudist fiction. This approach could exploit nudism, and reinforce the damaging narratives that we nudists are only too familiar with (You’re perverts! You just want to see nude women! It’s really about sex!). No matter how I approach it, I think I’d be writing erotica, not nudism, with stories like these - and probably not very good erotica, at that.
In the end, naturism is… pretty boring.
Narrative is driven by character and conflict. All three of these story types lack one or both of these. In the “Nudism is Great” story, there are no characters, there are only empty vessels that are used to spill forth nudist philosophizing. The “Nothing remarkable” story can have characters, but the conflict is absent. And titillation stories have characters and drive, but the conflict is inevitably cliche, and probably damaging to nudism.
So what should I do, as an author?
I have started to think more about the nudist fiction issue, and I have a few ideas about where to go.
First, much of the problem for naturist fiction goes back to the old writing advice of showing, not telling. If a character simply talks about nudism, its advantages, its philosophical grounding - that’s showing, and it does little to connect with a reader. Instead, as authors, we must find compelling situations in (fictionalized) real life where those theories are actually played out. That doesn’t mean a professor at the front of a room lecturing, nor does it mean a person among a circle of friends talking. It means nudists, living their lives, and experiencing the conflicts that inevitably arise with being nude in a clothed world.
Second, one of the problems is characters. People are complex. People have deep-seated conflicts and insecurities, they have values that are at odds with the ways they live their lives. Even the most committed naturist must run into situations where they confront a difficult decision or judgement, or an issue where they need to reexamine their preconceptions - and where they have to consider the consequences of one choice or another.
(This goes for antagonists as well. Yes, there are those people in the world whose view of nudism is simplistic; they don’t make for compelling fiction. Antagonists should have legitimate and interesting reasons to oppose the protagonists. Remember, the villain is actually the hero of his or her own story!)
Finally, there is a core issue at stake here, one that is not just a problem for naturist fiction, but for naturism in general: naturists are too often unwilling to grapple with deeper issues around naturism.
Too often, we naturists believe our own press - we don’t question the assumptions we make about their lifestyle and community. Naturism is inclusive - but what about black, LGBTQ+, and single male nudists, all of whom are often turned away from resorts? Naturism is non-sexual - but what about the resorts that purport to be nudist but cater to the swinger community? Naturism is accepting - but what about the many naturists who body-shame and sexualize other naturists, often in subtle and pervasive ways?
These are the problems that really need confronting in the nudist community. So our naturist fiction has to address them, rather than the more simple issues - moral scolds who want to shut down a nudist beach, or people’s nervousness or unwillingness to be naked with others.
Non-exploitative nudist fiction is a relatively new idea, and there is plenty of room to grow. It also seems to have a long and positive future ahead of it, and I want to be part of that future. As an author who wants to help advance the naturist cause, I’m trying to figure out how to bring out the issues that matter, with characters who live and deal with the issues associated with naturism, rather than talk about those issues.
But have high hopes for nudist fiction. Our community is full of smart, diverse individuals, including many writers. Together, we can work to build a body of work that can reach a wider, intelligent, thinking public - and above all, tell some darn good stories.
Who are your favourite naturist authors and which books would you recommend? What were the positives and negatives about their work? What would you like to see in nudist fiction? Tell me in the comments!
With its relatively liberal policies on nudity, twitter stands alone as the most popular nudist-friendly social media platform out there these days. You can post nude photos, you can talk about nudity and nudism, and you can interact with other nudists openly.
Any of those things could see your posts removed and even your account banned on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and most other social media sites. There are a few social media sites, like MeWe, that are open to nudist content, but they tend to have far fewer users.
Twitter stands alone as a destination for nudists. But a recent trend there has started to make it a less warm and welcoming place for nudists - and puts a serious damper on our connecting and socializing together.
That trend: blocking people.
There are plenty of good reasons to block people on twitter; it can be a toxic place.
Women - especially nudist women - are often (if not constantly) harassed, criticized, propositioned, judged, and vilified, and receive numerous creepy DMs and sexually-laden replies to every tweet. Many of my female nudist friends have reported on twitter blocking literally dozens of other users daily.
There are also people who come in to give unwanted and useless opinions. I myself don’t need to see more than one “Y’all are crazy” or “You’re going to hell for immodesty” comment before I hit the block button.
There are also users who will misuse others’ photos - reposting them without attributing them and without permission, often from accounts that are just roundups of nude photos with a single theme. I always block them too.
Finally, there are those with whom I disagree with so fundamentally that I don’t want to have anything to do with them - people who post racist and sexist “jokes” fall into this category. They probably don’t even know I’ve blocked them, but I don’t care - I want no association between my account and theirs.
In general, though, unless a twitter user is being actively harmful, I don’t block them. They might have a feed full of extremely sexually explicit images and videos; they might have political views that are diametrically opposed to my own. But I won’t block them.
I also won’t follow them. Despite being a twitter account primarily about nudism, there are very few nude photos as I scroll down my feed. Most of the photos that appear are the header images for articles and blog posts, too. I just don’t follow photo-centric accounts.
At one time I was much more liberal than I am now. If someone followed me, I followed them back. If someone had an account that seemed connected with nudism, I followed them. But as time went on I’ve become more discerning, and I’ve even gone through my list of follows from time to time and pruned them.
So my policy is: block people who are actively problematic; follow people who are active and positive about nudism; and more or less ignore everyone else.
Not everyone shares my policy approach - which is their right, of course.
Numerous accounts have text in their bio to the effect that “anyone posting, following, or liking porn will be blocked”. It’s nice of them to give a warning! I don’t typically worry about these warnings, because my intentions on twitter are clear. I’m about nudism, not porn.
Something does bother me about this, though: it seems like a purity test for nudism. It’s not that I condone the sexualization of nudity. But it does seem to require that a person - who might have a lot of different reasons for being on twitter - have no impure, non-nudist content in their feed.
That approach also tends to be less inclusive. If you demand that everyone who follows you is well-versed in the principles of nudism, you aren’t going to convince anyone who isn’t already a nudist to give it a try.
One other possibility - what if someone follows an adult performer, erotic photographer, nude model, or exotic dancer specifically to support and empower them? To block the artist’s followers so severely is unfair and judgemental. It can be very difficult to know why anyone follows anyone else.
Not everyone is trying to attract new nudists, of course. But there’s one area where blocking is legitimately concerning: when the blocker is a naturist organization or destination.
This is what made me first start to think about this topic: an AANR regional account blocked me. This came as a surprise: I didn’t know of anything in my twitter history that offended anyone, especially a nudist organization. To make matters worse, they were quite active on twitter, and I would often find replies and retweets in my feed that I couldn’t access.
Eventually I sought out the person who ran the account, and asked why I was blocked; after a brief back-and-forth, I was unblocked. But that person noted that I followed an account that was deemed inappropriate.
I looked up the account, and yes, it wasn’t the kind of account that I normally follow! I unfollowed it immediately, for my own sake, not for AANR’s. (It was probably one of those accounts I followed early on, because they followed me first.) But it left me wondering, why had I been scrutinized so closely and judged too harshly to even follow an AANR account - an organization I’m actually a member of?
I don’t blame the organization, either. They made the judgement they felt they needed to, at that time. The problem is that there’s no public set of rules, no policy, that gives their criteria for followers. In a way, those “Porn followers will be BLOCKED!” accounts are doing a better job of stating their policies.
Two solutions are needed here.
The first is that organizations and businesses need to spend time considering, and writing down, their policies. Social media grew quickly; the preparation and thinking that used to go into communications and messaging were neglected in the rush to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, and the like. But it’s a permanent fixture for many organizations, including naturist organizations, so it’s time to incorporate the social media stance of an organization into its policies.
(Some organization executives might feel they don’t have the knowledge to do this; here’s a great opportunity to involve some younger members, don’t you think?)
The second is that naturists who are interested in bringing new people into the fold - whether they are organizations, businesses, or just private enthusiasts like me - need to have an as-open-as-possible approach to their communications. They don’t need to tolerate abuse and negativity, of course. But the approach of blocking followers because they don’t quite meet one’s high standards has to end.
Social media presents an astounding opportunity for naturists, who once had to hide in heavily-treed lots far from civilization just to enjoy being nude together.
Closing doors and excluding people does not help our movement grow, especially among younger people - the demographic that most naturists recognize as the most important one for our future. Let’s unblock, and join the conversation.
Are you active on social media? Who do you block, and who blocks you? What’s your approach? Tell me in the comments!
Many people think that nudism is a risky business.
Trying anything for the first time always has an element of risk. That’s a fact. To many, nudism seems to carry a huge amount of risk with it, often because of society’s many negative messages about nudity, perpetuated through our media for decades. For first-time nudists, it often feels like you’re defying every moral and convention in our society when you think about taking your clothes off with others.
But in large part, the risk is in our heads, and far smaller than we think. Here are some of the biggest risks that nudists perceive, and the reality of the risk that is (or isn’t) there.
Some people work in fields where they handle sensitive information, or people at risk (including children). Others have public positions where any deviation from societal norms is considered problematic. These positions could include jobs where they work with children or other vulnerable people, or where they are in a position of public trust.
The risk is predicated on the association of nudity with sexuality, of course. If you are willingly nude with other people, you are probably a sexual deviant, or at least opening yourself up for blackmail or extortion. You are not, the reasoning seems to be, a trustworthy person if you are a nudist.
In addition, if you do not work in a positive work environment, the revelation that you are a nudist could prompt other workers to make unwelcome comments or insinuations. Because society is often unsympathetic to nudism, you might also feel that you cannot complain about those comments, even if they are egregious. That can seriously degrade the quality of your working life.
This risk is one of the few perceived risks that is at least partially grounded in reality. People do have negative stereotypes about nudists, and they could make the association between nudism and sexuality. If you work with vulnerable persons, or indeed in any position where you have a “morality clause” or something similar in your employment contract, it would be worth considering whether social nudity is something you can partake in.
You might have to be careful about who you tell about your recreation activities, too. (That can be true for any unconventional hobbies too - video games, sports, and crafts can all seem strange to others sometimes.) Some co-workers can’t be entrusted with this level of personal revelation. And if you have to worry about the reactions of some co-workers, you really have to worry about all of them: sometimes word gets around in any organization, and it always seems to get to the wrong people.
However, the reality is that you’re far less likely to have to worry about this than you may think. While there are occupations that might be sensitive to nude recreation, most are not. Unless they explicitly state the limits on what you can do while you’re employed there, being a nudist outside of working hours should not be a problem.
And that leads to the best way to handle this risk: if you’re worried about professional ramifications of nude recreation, just don’t tell anyone. Your co-workers don’t have to know about what you do with your free time. If they ask what your weekend was like, you can just omit the part about being nude at the time. “I went swimming and read a fantastic book” is enough - you don’t need to include “with a bunch of other nude people” at all.
“What if I run into someone I know?”
Here’s the nightmare scenario: someone you know in your clothed life - a friend, acquaintance, co-worker, even a family member - ends up at the same place as you. Now you’re without clothes in front of someone who’s never seen you nude before!
Imagining the embarrassment and awkwardness is almost too much. Now this person, who has only known you in the controlled environment where you’ve been able to cover up to your own comfort level, is suddenly able to see you - all of you. It’s a level of intimacy and exposure that you might never have wanted with this person. What’s more, they now have some knowledge about you that they can use against you - they know you’re a nudist!
This is one of those problems that might seem huge, but in fact is a minor problem at worst - and a huge opportunity at best.
Running into a friend or family member while you’re both nude can in fact be a very positive experience. Now you have something in common you didn’t know about before! This could lead to having someone new to hang out nude with, or someone to go to nudist venues with in the future. There are so many new possibilities when you know other nudists!
You might have been nude in front of only a very small number of people in the past, and they were probably close to you. It’s natural to think that, if you expose your body to a large number of people, especially people you don’t know, you’ll be judged for all the flaws you perceive about yourself - every part of you that you’ve looked at in the mirror and felt was wrong, inadequate, or unattractive.
In a nudist context, whether at a beach, a resort, a gathering, or any other kind of social nudity venue… no one cares.
That’s right. You are alone in judging your body; no other nudist is going to notice all of these flaws and deficiencies. Because in a nudist space, everyone is exposed. We’ve all got ourselves fully on display, and that’s because we agree, collectively, that none of that matters.
In fact, being around other normal nude people can be quite uplifting. It’s one of the few antidotes to society’s ideas about what we should look like, or even what is acceptable to other people. Spend an hour or two among other nude people, and you’ll quickly see through the myth of how anyone is supposed to look, and what a body is supposed to be. It might be the most affirming and positive experience you’ll ever encounter.
You could agree with all this, and get past all the other fears and hangups that society puts on nudity, and still worry that when you get there… you won’t like being nude. Nudists are definitely a minority in our society, so there are many who don’t enjoy social nudity - maybe it just won’t be for you.
It’s natural to feel some trepidation about something like social nudity, because you’ve been bombarded with negative messages about nude bodies all your life. But let me tell you from experience, all of those messages - without exception - are false.
But sure, there’s a possibility that you won’t actually enjoy it when you try it. Maybe the vibe isn’t right, or maybe you’re unable to really let go and get comfortable. Not everyone tries nudism and becomes a convert.
So you put on your clothes and go home.
Really, it’s that simple. If you don’t like it, you can back out at any time. No one is going to demand to know where you’re going. And if you decide later that you want to try it again, no one is going to hold it against you. This is about as un-risky as it can possibly be. And if it turns out that you just don’t like nudist environments, there’s nothing wrong with being nude at home, in private!
The real calculation that you must make is whether the risk is worth the potential reward. The risks, I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate, are actually minor - all are much easier to handle than they might seem before you try nudism for yourself.
But the rewards can be huge. It’s not simply naturist propaganda to say that many, many people have found their lives irrevocably changed for the better when they started going nude. That’s why there are nudist clubs, and resorts, and beaches - because thousands and thousands of others have tried nudism for themselves, and decided to adopt it as a recreation option - or even as a way of life.
It won’t solve all your problems, it’s not a cure-all, it might not even change the world. But it definitely isn’t the big, scary, risky thing you have probably led yourself to believe it was. And the rewards could stay with you for the rest of your new, nude life.
If you’re a naturist already, what did you think the biggest risks were before you tried nudism for the first time, and how did they work out? If you haven’t tried it yet, what are the big risks that are preventing you from going nude for your first time? Let me know in the comments!
Wow, you look amazing nude.
Your boyfriend better look out!
You’re a really beautiful young woman.
You’re just the kind of young person we love to see become a nudist!
All of these are compliments. They’re all positive, all saying something nice about the person they’re directed at.
And they’re the wrong thing to say.
Time and again, nudists express frustration with trying to convince others that social nudity is something they should try. The demographics that are the most coveted, too, are women and young people. More women are needed to help balance the gender ratio, which tips very far to the male side. And young people - wherever you set the bar, but it’s usually somewhere under middle age - are the future of the naturist movement, and essential to the health of any movement or club.
Compliments like these are absolutely guaranteed to drive women and young people away, or at least make their experience more negative than it should be.
But they’re nice things to say, right? Why would they cause problems?
The first issue with these compliments is that they are a message to the recipient about where others’ attention is directed. The intended message may be positive, welcoming, and encouraging. The more subtle message, though, is exactly the opposite.
Because the underlying message is “I’m judging your body in a sexual way.”
First, let’s get the objections out of the way. You’re a good person, you aren’t judging anyone, there’s nothing sexual in saying any of that.
All of these protests focus on the person making the remark, and their intent. That’s irrelevant to the person receiving it.
What you’re doing to the person you’re talking to is making them immediately aware that everything people say about nudists - nothing sexual, no body shaming, no judgement - is false. Because someone is definitely judging their body.
Not saying anything bad? Doesn’t matter. You’ve made a judgement. That tells the object of your judgement that they’re being measured. Maybe everyone is measuring them. Maybe others will make a different judgement.
There’s another layer to it as well. When you judge someone on their appearance - even subtly - you’re sending a message that is exactly in line with how non-nudist society views bodies, especially those of certain ages, and body types. The message is, “We’re evaluating sexual partners,” and the entire pretense of nudity being safe and open and equal comes crashing down.
And again, I understand that this is not the intent of the person making the compliment - certainly not consciously. It could be that there is an unconscious bias at play, and by definition we are usually not aware of unconscious biases! It’s definitely important for all of us to consider whether what we say and do are driven by prejudices that we possess (because of our upbringing, the people and society around us, and so on).
But whatever the motivation of the compliment, it still plays into the dynamics of clothed society in exactly the ways that nudism seeks to be different from it. The subtext of the things you say aren’t entirely within our control, and for any nudist - especially someone new to the venue, or new to nudism in general - the subtext may be speaking much more loudly than you realize.
There’s more to this, though. This is about power, and balance.
One of the most appealing aspects of naturism is how it puts us on the same plane. The societal trappings are gone. We are forced to put our flaws and deficiencies on display. We assert that what others see, and what we see of others, doesn’t matter. And most of all, we have established a shared trust by all of us adopting that vulnerability together.
Those compliments destroy all of that.
It’s not just the fact that you’ve taken away that shared trust by overtly evaluating someone else. You’ve also tipped the balance of power away from the person you’re complimenting, and towards yourself. You’ve put yourself in the position of a judge, and them in the position of the judged. You have given yourself - or at least stated your belief that you have - authority over that other person.
The relative positions of you and the other person can also be exacerbated if you have some perceived real-world authority as well. For better or worse, society gives a more prominent voice to men than to women, and to older people than to younger people.
So if you, as a middle-aged-or-older, tell a woman in her early twenties that she’s good-looking, it’s making your assumption of power over her apparent and overt.
If you were her, nude in a non-sexual environment for the first time, hearing this compliment - what would you think?
I’m pretty sure I’d think that everything I’d heard about nudism was nonsense. And I wouldn’t be back.
But that’s not -
I was only trying to -
But men aren’t always -
Stop with it.
If the only thing you can think of to say to someone else is to compliment their appearance, learn not to speak at all.
The first thing you can do when encountering a stranger who you’d like to compliment in a nudist venue is ask whether you need to speak with them at all. What is your reason for talking to them, and why are you the person who needs to talk? If you can’t think of any good reason to talk to a stranger, a simple smile, “Hello,” and maybe “Nice day today, isn’t it?” is enough. After that, unless the stranger says something more substantial in return, you can move on without another word.
If a stranger is clearly needing directions - for example, walking around with garbage in his hand, in search of a receptacle - be helpful and guide them towards what they’re more likely looking for. After that, unless the stranger says something more substantial in return, you can move on without another word.
If a stranger is nearby and hesitating - for example, if they seem a little nervous about approaching a group of nudists and selecting a deck chair near them - it’s perfectly fine to say, “These chairs over here aren’t occupied. Feel free to take any of them.” After that, unless the stranger says something more substantial in return, you can move on without another word.
See the pattern? The interaction is limited to the benefit of the other person. And unless they choose to engage with you further, the next step - where you would tell them how good-looking they are, or how well-defined their muscles are, or anything like that - is one you need not take.
I know that I’m going to alienate some readers with this piece. Some will feel a little bit insulted, because they don’t feel like they need a primer in basic human interaction. Others will feel like I’m being prejudiced against them, just because they’re men, or because they want to be nice to other people, or because because because.
Well, sorry about that.
But I really want to help stop this dynamic of people being (supposedly) complimentary, and other people (actually) being made uncomfortable, and pushed away from nudism.
I’d prefer that we concentrate on what, for me, is a key value that naturists share: that social nudity brings us closer together. And in that context, we should avoid doing anything that pushes us - any of us - apart.
What do you think? What can you do to make nudism more comfortable for new nudists? When you first began as a nudist, was there anything that others did that made it more comfortable and approachable? Tell me in the comments!
Many people are interested in nudism but never give it a try. There are a number of reasons for this - and a number of excuses.
What’s the difference? If it’s a reason, it’s something that is actually preventing you from trying it. Maybe you live too far from a nudist venue. Or the people around you are not accepting of the idea. Or you’re worried about the professional implications if someone found out that you’re a nudist.
These are all potentially legitimate reasons you can’t participate in nudism, or at least some aspect of it. (You can always try it at home when everyone else is gone, or you can go somewhere secluded…) But in this post I’m talking about excuses, not legitimate reasons. Excuses are just as likely to keep someone from trying out nudism, especially social nudism - in fact, they might be even more likely to stop someone than legitimate reasons are.
There are many fears associated with nudism that fall into this category. Heck, that’s the reason I wrote my first book on nudism! I recognized that if a wannabe nudist were armed with a little more knowledge, they could probably get past many of their misgivings.
People’s fears about nudity and nudism aren’t really surprising. Our society’s attitudes turn into negative messages that we hear every single day.
Nudity is sexualized. Bodies are commodified. Seeing nude people is morally wrong. Nude people is disgusting. No one wants to see that!
The modern world is a pretty unfriendly place for nudists, in many ways. It’s not surprising that we internalize those messages, and turn them into reasons not to be who we want to be.
I hope it’s clear that I don’t blame people for the excuses they make for not being nudists. But I think that addressing the most common fears directly, and examining these most common excuses, is a step towards people embracing the nudist self they want to be. We’ve all been there, but there’s a light at the end of the nudist beach for those who embrace the freedom in experiencing a more clothes-free life.
There’s one very common reason I hear from people who want to try nudism but don’t. It’s this:
I don’t look good enough to be nude in front of other people.
You’ll hear this from people of every size and shape. Young people with bodies that are objectively beautiful in every way pick out invisible flaws in their bodies. Women are terrified about revealing the stretch marks on their breasts, and buttocks. Men are worried about their proportions and body hair. Everyone worried that they’re overweight.
Weight is the most common flaw people see in themselves. It’s not just people who are obese. Some people see a tiny amount of fat on their belly, and they can’t imagine letting it out from behind its protective covering of clothing. Others will talk about the supposedly awful shape their body fat gives them: they talk about their paunch or hip dips or bingo wings or big butt. They have saggy parts and scars and blemishes of every kind.
The fear often manifests as a kind of promise. “I’d love to try a nude beach - I’d just have to lose twenty pounds before I can try it.”
What these people are really saying is that they have completely know what bodies are supposed to look like. They know because society tells them constantly: the only people who should be seen without clothes (or minimal clothes) are slim, muscular, unblemished young people.
If this is how you feel about yourself, I have good news for you.
Nudism is the answer to your problem.
First, let’s get one major misconception out of the way. If you’ve never been in a nudist venue before, you probably imagine it like this:
You take your clothes off, every head turning towards your nude body, every eye on you. You fold up your clothes, and everyone murmurs quietly as they discuss the many flaws they see in your body. You straighten up and walk through the gathered crowd, and the murmuring grows louder. There’s some tittering and people are exchanging looks.
That never, ever happens.
Here’s what really goes down: you take your clothes off. No one notices. You fold your clothes and straighten up. No one notices. You walk through the crowd of people and find a chair to sit on. The people around you smile and say hello.
Our society has given us every reason to be critical of our bodies, and the treatment of nudity in our media suggests that those criticisms are going to come from all sides. It’s not surprising that many new nudists expect that other nudists will watch them closely and judge them harshly for all the flaws that are so obviously on display.
Nudism really is the answer. In seconds, I promise, you’ll realize that all your fears and misgivings and self-criticisms were misplaced. It’s safe to be with nudists with an imperfect body.
Really, one of the things that makes social nudity so enjoyable is that we’re all mutually trusting each other with our vulnerability. Because we’re all naked, all our flaws are on display. And because we’re trusting each other that much, we automatically seem to be able to look past the physical bodies - flaws or beauty or any other way you might judge a body - and we look only at the person as they really are.
The best way to stop worrying about what you perceive to be your physical flaws is to get nude with a bunch of other people who are just as perfectly imperfect as you are.
You don’t need to lose any weight at all before you participate in nudism. The only thing you need to lose are your preconceptions about your body and others’ bodies.
It doesn’t matter how you look - nudism is for you!
What fears and misconceptions are keeping you from trying nudism? If you’re already a nudist, can you remember what held you back when you first thought about trying it? How did you get past those fears?