Coming out naked.

It's very tempting to use the religion card for naked activities, but this is flawed. Very few people actually say "we believe" being naked is good for you, and so forth. I think this approach stands up fine against some legal challenges and is a good position from which to defend general attacks in principle. If it's ok to go to school wearing a burka, then it's ok to go to school naked, and so forth.

However, nudism/naturism/naktiv is not a religion, it's a lifestyle choice, far more in the mould of being gay. People don't "believe in gay", they just are, or are not. Or choose to be, or not, as the case may be. In some ways I personally regard this as an unfortunate parallel, but that's not the point. The crucial point is to see how the gay movement got to where they are now and how naked people can leverage that strategy. Essentially they did it by "coming out", and saying: "I am gay, get over it."

This is what nudists in every club, naturists the world over, naked and active people everywhere, need to come to terms with. How to promote their lifestyle, whether in private or in public, as a perfectly harmless and entirely acceptable form of personal expression. The traditional private club movement has had over a hundred years with which to convince the world that nudity is acceptable. The situation we are now in, where censorship of nudity in mainstream media is the norm, and nudists are the butt of nudge-nudge wink-wink, jokes, proves they have comprehensively failed, and to move forward we need to implement a different strategy.

What naked and active people, nudists and naturists, need to do, is to "come out naked". This amounts to saying "I am naked, get over it." No more, and no less.

44 thoughts on “Coming out naked.”

  1. Having a little more time I have come back to this and expanded all posts to "view more" status and I see that this has developed into an interesting and robust discussion deserving more consideration.

    With respect the comment by Gregory Heath
    "people love to label and then it's easier for them to hate and reject you." The truth that is there is expressed only from the negative view. If for instance you responded by saying "I am a TV and Movie actor/actress" I think that very many people are going to going to have a positive reaction and want to know more.

    People use stereotypes because they are useful (albeit not always accurate).

    So then when asked in a situation where it is appropriate and a significant issue, my response about nudity is that, "I am a Christian Naturist.". The combination of those two categories is to my advantage in that to many people such a claim is an "oxymoron". It is a stereotype that breaks the stereotype of each of its parts. It presents most people here in the U.S. with a pair of categories which are hard to reconcile and may open a conversation in which you can explain what you do and do not advocate. Now of course this will not work for everyone, because not everyone is Christian, but it works for me. And due to its oxymoronic nature it has a tendency to initiate a conversation where I can explain myself rather than merely be instantly saddled with all the baggage that comes with certain labels.

    So when "coming out naked", one would like to have a good name. To use a controversial example, when the Abortion Debate got going in the U.S. the two sides called the other "Pro Abortion" and "Anti Abortion". These are very accurate titles. Then, to try to obtain the upper hand, the former of those two groups insisted on being called "Pro Choice" and the latter insisted on "Pro Life" This was a process of choosing one's own label to the best advantage.

    One would normally wish to be though well of. Shakespeare said "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" but at the same time not so many people would be inclined to risk sniffing something named "Rotten Stench Flower"!

    So then in deference to the original post by Richard Foley about playing the "religion card", Yes, in some contexts it would be a flawed strategy to do so. Yet, it is not altogether to be avoided in the proper contexts.

    In dealing with legislators being lobbied by anti-nudity religionists, to declare that one's actions in being nude are "informed" by ones religion can put into perspective for the politician that much of the controversy is an attempt by one religious faction to dominate another. And in western societies that kind of coercion is a big negative. If Christian naturists can show that they are not trying to coerce others into naked behavior but merely wish to practice the same peacably and without sexual excesses, then such a pluralistic approach, (another positive "buzz phrase"), casts the anti nudists as the domineering religionists that they are.

    To put it another way, the way to play the religion card properly is:
    — to not promote the idea that "I get to be naked because my religion says I should be"
    but rather:
    — "my religion/ethical practice needs to be protected from the religious zealots who would impose their preferred behavior on everyone else to promote their religious practice on the 'heathen unbelievers'"

    Such an approach casts the naturist issue in the same vein as the Catholic vs protestant or Christian vs Muslim or Hindus vs Sikhs All of which have lead to literal war! And any neutral politician with a modicum of sense won't want to mess in that.

  2. So to flesh out my argument (no pun intended) that playing the religious card has a certain validity, and since Richard has suggested that perhaps someone will enlighten him. I will take the easy way out and cite Wikipedia at:
    That page is on the topic of "Christian Naturism" and in the first few paragraphs cites Ilsley Boone a Dutch Reformed Pastor who founded what we know today as the AANR, and Elton Raymond Shaw who in addition to his naturism is cited for being involved in leadership in the Methodist Episcopal denomination.

    It is not surprising that such men were religiously involved as resistance to Nudism has arisen largely from religious notions of impropriety. Yet these men observed that in the Old and New testament there is no condemnation of non sexual optional nudity, and its only negative presentations arise from imposed nudity (e.b. by conquerors and from abject poverty where one lacks minimal clothing to protect one from the environment. (e.g. the day laborer who must give his garment as surety and whoever accepts it must assure that he will give it back to the laborer by evening as it is his only covering while he sleeps. Ex 22:26-27.)

    These Christian leaders came to understand that the suppression of nudity was not Christian and the benefits of the practice were being wrongly rejected. The wikipedia article on Christian Naturism has links to the activities of both these men, as well as expounding the basics of Christian Naturism.

    Naturism ought not be suppressed by religionists, Christian or otherwise, based on false claims that the Bible condemns it. Of course Muslims faithful to the Koran will not likely see it that way.
    Curious, I did not get notification about responses to my first post for two whole years. So much for the myth of prompt responses in this digital age. 😉

  3. I am not knocking nudist and naturist clubs and resorts here.

    However, I feel that the perception of nudists/naturists by textiles as belonging to communities behind walls and fences, in 'nudist colonies', at least partially comes from this practice of only being naked away from greater society.

    Accepting that the right to be nude anywhere is not yet here, I do think that there is a wider appreciation of the right to be naked, by a larger proportion of the public than from how I recall it even 30 years ago. At least that's how I see it in most countries I have some experience of from visiting, even if that is a limited experience.

    I've been a member of nudist clubs in the past and have no bad memories of them, they provide opportunities for us to enjoy life naked with like-minded others, away from the prejudices we may encounter outside of them. I still think they play an important part in the world of nudism/naturism.

    A more proactive approach to encouraging wider acceptance of our preferred way of life, will probably be more successful if we do so from outside of closed communities. Certainly for those of us who do not, or cannot, live in clothing-optional communities.

  4. If the usual labels feel awkward for you to embrace, try "criminal". Unfortunate but true in most of the US and many other places. That is why I too try to avoid resorting to labels. Trying that label on for size is often enough to turn an otherwise complacent nudist/naturist (there I go with the labels, sorry) into an activist. Even hardened landed club members can be moved by the word "criminal" the day that they get a hankering to go out into their back yard and enjoy a bit of nude gardening. They quickly realize what we are all up against and that the behind-the-walls tradition has failed them too.

    All good points made above, the most important in my view being made by Howard that secrecy breeds fear, which is why I have been generally skeptical of clubs, though I have enjoyed my occasional visits to them. I have always talked openly to my textile friends about why clothes are not so necessary in my life, and why when I must wear something, it is always kilts or some type of man-skirt that I prefer. As Yvonne says, the responses are surprising and for the most part supportive, though often without understanding. Many times through their questioning of me, it is clear that my friends just want me to cut to the chase before they have a chance to label my preferences. They invariably ask what makes me willing to put up with all of the bullshit that society throws at me over my nudity. My short answer, which Howard beat me to above, is "IT FEELS GREAT TO BE NAKED!

    Also important as Richard sets forth in his blog, the best tactic is to bring it all out into the open. Not an in your face confrontation, but a friendly effort to help others to see that nudity is all around them in their lives, always has been, always will be, and that because it feels so good to some folks, they would prefer to forgo clothes whenever it is practical. I believe that we would all be surprised by how many latent believers there are out there who may be emboldened if they saw it happening around them. My 87 year old mother is one such example, but that is another story for another time. "Seeing is believing". -freewalkerma-

  5. Being up-front and honest seems to be the best policy. We have informed our neighbors, our friends and our family of our love of the lifestyle. For the most part because we came out and told them, we believe they have been more excepting. After a bridal shower Kim hosted this past Sunday the subject came up with some of the remaining ladies asking about it. It was an opportunity to educate these ladies and well received. When we fly for our business and such we often have to sit by a stranger. They always want to know what you do, so we tell them, it's always a great conversation. People do want to know about it but are afraid. So we do have be good ambassadors and inform and educate. We always tell them that simple nudity is simple honesty about yourself and also of those you meet nude as well.

  6. Richard's blog post nicely puts things into perspective. Any form of marginalization is counter intuitive. The comment about traditional clubs is particularly relevant. People are instinctively suspicious of any separatist movement, and nudism for the last 100 years has effectively been quite secretive and isolated.

    Perhaps the one thing that does need to differ from the gay movement is the stigmatism that goes along with it . Society as a whole may begrudgingly accept homosexuality, but throughout large tracts of the social landscape, it still has a certain stigma attached to it. Every other person doesn't want to be gay for example.

    On this basis nakedness needs to be normalised again. Not seen merely as a lifestyle choice by those so inclined.
    It shouldn't be exceptional to see someone at a beach bathing naked because they choose to do so.

    Perhaps another part of accomplishing this is to drop labels. I'm not a nudist, nor a naturist per sec. I just enjoy the freedom sans clothing brings. It almost seems crazy that we are the only creatures who clothe themselves. Especially when we are constantly surrounded by naked creatures including our very own pets. We live in a naked world, and yet, we ourselves have chosen to insulate ourselves from our own nature.

    • I know how you feel about labels. In England I prefer not to be a 'naturist' because they are so insular and lock themselves behind walls and hedges. But in the end there has to be a name otherwise nobody can talk about it.
      Naturism and nudism are fairly harmless words.

    • I try to avoid the use of naturist/nudist whenever possible (having just mentioned them both), but when talking to people about the subject, they quickly re-label me as a nudist. I think because it's we want to categorize people: the artist, lorry-driver, police-man, wierdo, professor, nudist, etc.

      And for what many of us here do, which is to be naked in different contexts, it always seems to take a lot more words, and the explanation is often not so familiar. Hence we dive for the label, the easy way out.

      I'm not a nudist, I'm naked, not always, but from time to time, often if possible, but this varies on context and my mood and the weather.

      Often, I just nod, and say "kind of".

      • The last sentence brought a smile. It brings to mind the reluctant messiah as portrayed by Richard Bach. Sometimes it's easier to just shrug your shoulders and say "kind of". Some people will hold onto their own perception and labels no matter how carefully you try to explain things.

          • Too true. It comes down to objectification. When I realised I don't really align with any labels I figured the only true label that can apply to me is human. That's all I've really aspired to be, which has a real irony to it.
            A huge majority of people are striving to be something other than what they actually are. People of faith strive to model themselves on the divine. People who label themselves strive to adhere to a set of standards that represents the label they choose to conform to.
            Being human involves identifying and letting go of false pretence. Looking at yourself and understanding what thoughts, ideas and conduct is BS. My focus therefore is to be as authentic as I can be.

  7. I completely agree. If I feel good nude then I have all the evidence I need, I do not have to believe I feel good, I just do. The problem comes here with the word belief, it has at least two quite distinct meanings, one associated with religion, i.e. an irrational belief in a theistic being or beings and a second meaning best served as an example, “I believe in justice”. The second is translated as “I think that justice is a good and worthwhile concept”.

  8. In the opening statement,Richard Foley wrote
    "It's very tempting to use the religion card for naked activities, but this is flawed……"

    But in the case of naturism/nudism, I think we have a special situation that allow for good use of the "religion card". At least in the United States, nudism got its start as a religiously related activity with advocacy by certain preachers. The Naturist Christian movement remains a vital element of the overall naturist movement.

    Since much of the resistance to nudity is based on, or at least bolstered by, religion, showing that at least some portion of religious actively advocates it reduces the controversy to one of a battle of doctrinal positions of opposing religious groups. Each group argues that the other side is misguided, apostate or sinful.

    Given that in western society religious tolerance is a civic virtue, and that the governments of society should not get into promoting one religion over another, promotes the idea that government should keep hands off of naturism. Likewise the very "conservative" religious position of most Christian naturists in sexual matters emphasizes that nudism is not inherently about sex or a perversion of sexuality. Such evidence opens the door for the argument that there may be valid benefits for the psycho-sexual development of people.

    Additionally, given the starkly contrasting position of Islam about covering the body versus the Christian naturist position, shows that harsh suppression of nudity is in fact a religious dominance matter.

    Not all naturists are religious, but given the number who are, makes playing the "religion card" a valuable tool. Especially in the realm of:
    — My religion says it is good to be nude
    — Your religion says naked is bad
    So don't force your religion on me! The government should not interfere from a religious basis or take sides when no harm can be shown.
    — Those who are not religious should not have to put up with the religiously based dictates of those who are.

    Disclaimer: (so as not misrepresent myself)
    Being a committed Christian (albeit a bit doctrinally heterodox) I do not advocate every aspect of what I have just put forth as being the very best course for society to follow. However, knowing that I live in an increasingly secular society, I voice the positions above as how I think the system can work best for acceptance of naturism. Of course being both a Christian and a Naturist and a "true believer" in both I would love to proselytise all to that view, but I am not so naive as to expect that to come to fruition any time soon, nor do I believe that forced proselytes will ever be true believers.

    • Whether the Naturist Christian movement is a pillar of American nudism, or not, is a state of affairs of which I am unaware, but as I don't live in the US, perhaps I am merely showing my ignorance. No doubt others will enlighten me.

      Nevertheless, just because nudism may have started in the US as a religion based activity, (even if that were the case), does not mean you can apply that condition to nudism elsewhere, such as in Germany, where the FKK movement originated, it was certainly not religously promoted.

      If "your god" likes naked humans, all well and good. I know plenty of people who are christians who would disagree with you. Attempting to co-opt nudism as belonging in some way to a particular religion merely increases the faction-like stance of nudism, and does nothing to promote nudity for all, for instance.

  9. Part of the problem we face has been caused by us. Secrecy breeds fear; rumour and innuendo distil into fact in the mind of the always clothed. As Yvonne wrote, the more you speak to people openly about naturism, the more it is accepted. We now have the unprecedented tool of social media, all we need do now is learn how to use it effectively.

    • Indeed. I've been more than pleasantly surprised by how relaxed almost everybody has been about the subject when I've said I enjoy naked hiking. No problems with the people at work, my neighbours, most of my family. Almost everyone is very "oh, really?" Nothing untoward happens, no shock and awe, nothing.

      Several have even said they'd like to try it themselves, but… And you know, the main reason they don't try it, (yet), is probably because of what they fear other people might think. All this fear and doubt – it's so unnecessary.

  10. To paraphrase Barnum: all comments are good comments.

    and just FYI, I see no reason to close any clubs just because we can be naked elsewhere. If I want to be naked in a family club atmosphere, I'll join a club. If I want to be naked on a horse, I'll come to FreedomFields. If I want to be naked in the hills, I'll go to the Alps.

    Horses for courses, so to speak 🙂

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