(This writing was inspired by a couple of women planning to visit Hampton beach in New Hampshire and a series of two article on those events. Topfreedom is legal in New Hampshire, but practically no people were taking advantage of that until these two came along.)
The thought occurred to me this morning that human beings interest in being nude socially, understanding a more simple definition of nudity and mastering the feelings we have while nude is a bit like swimming.
Swimming is not something we do “naturally”, ideas of evolution set aside and the fact that human babies can be and are birthed underwater and then brought to the surface for our first breath, the fact is water is a foreign environment to us. We are told to “stay away from the water” and be careful near the water; important messages and lessons which insure our survival as a species.
It occurs to me that nudity is a bit like this too! Being naked is perfectly acceptable to us when we are very young, as babies and children, but as we get older our parents, teachers, ministers (frequently) and others warn us of the risks of nudity; seeing it, being nude and the things that may happen when we are together while nude.
So while nudity is not a “foreign environment”, very early in life we are conditioned to “fear” it, be cautious of it and to not take risks with it! Why? Can nudity kill you? Is it possible to be so distracted by nudity even for a brief instant, that we forget to do another thing safely and may die? Yes, oh yes it is; but only when humans engage in multiple “risky” things at the same time. An example of this might be nude sky-diving! If you are doing that, you definitely need to focus your attention on the task of safely deploying the parachute and NOT being distracted by the amazing sensations resulting from also being nude.
Other similarities: Swimming is fun! Swimming feels amazing! Swimming excites us because of the very risks associated with doing it, the care we must take while doing it, and a combination of the mental and physical exertion required of doing it for any length of time (more than 15 or 20 minutes, for example). Yet we love it!
I suggest these very same reasons may be why some people desire the freedom to go nude at a beach. Nudity is fun! Nudity feels amazing! Nudity excites us because of the very risks associated with doing it, the care we must take while doing it.
It may even be that some of the feelings and ideas driving certain humans to seek out nudity inappropriately are because of the fact they DO NOT get to practice being nude in social situations and have feelings caused by nudity they do not know how to handle. They have not mastered the excitement felt in nude situations in exactly the same way someone feels panic if they are dumped into water without knowledge of swimming! Yes, there is an element of excitement, but there is also an element of fear simply because we do not know what is in the water, and we may not know how long we will be in the water or for a few brief instants, whether we will ever get out of the water and be safe again!
What does all this mean: The best way for humans to understand nudity in a social situation is to practice it. Therefore we should have legally permitted topless and clothing-optional beaches, and we should at least think about the act of embracing the feelings (and the fears) we have about nudity. We might even want to go so far as to encourage people coming to the fringes of nude beaches to come over and join us! Introduce ourselves, shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye and perhaps even give them a hug and say, “Hello! Please, come meet my husband” or “Come meet my family”. Because we know only through practice can we learn to do something correctly, safely and well.
Maybe if this approach were used a little more frequently, then many more people would understand social nudity, accept it a bit more and come to master the feelings associated with doing it. There would be no people hanging out on the fringes because we would all “know how to swim”.