Why do people hide naturism?

I have never hidden the fact that I am a naturist. When I first started taking my clothes off, I would post the occasional photograph on social media; in the French Alps or the Spanish Pyrenees mountains, for example, mainly depicting the beautiful scenery, but also my naked body (from behind), admiring the view.

Img 20200101 wa0005I didn’t include any comments. It was just another photo in my collection, no big deal. Since doing this, I have only ever received positive feedback and praise. Comments such as; ‘Well done’, ‘You are so brave’, ‘I wish I had the confidence to do what you do’ and of course ‘Cheeky’. I am quite blasé about it, and discuss it as openly as I would any other hobby or interest. The more I posted, and comments I received, the more I got the impression that secretly most people would like to try it, but they are all too afraid.

My friends and family were not surprised (as I have always been one to try new things, and do what I want in life, regardless of what other people might think), and my work colleagues, although they made the occasional joke, were mainly fascinated, and dare I say, a little bit jealous. In fact, people began to confide in me, admitting that they go to naturist beaches whilst on holiday, and one person even had a naturist wedding! I have encouraged a work colleague to try out the local naturist club, and convinced friends to join me naked at my home, and on the beach.

However, not everybody is like me, and many people choose to hide that fact they are a naturist from friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, employers, and society in general. This is a result of the various negative stereotypes associated with naturism:

Largely, the common misconception that is the associated with sex. Many assume that that if one is willing to take their clothes off in public, then they must be part of a swinging or sexually promiscuous lifestyle. Some see it as perverted, and an excuse for people to openly view naked bodies that they may be attracted to, or even for paedophiles to view or gain access to naked children.

Some view the naked body in public as indecent, and bordering on illegal, similar to ‘flashing’, which of course is an entirely different matter/activity. 

Being naked, or its assumed association with sex could lead to naturism being seen as sinful by people raised in certain religious or other cultures, therefore going against the beliefs or values (although there is a Christian naturist group). Public nudity may even be seen as ‘crazy’. An image often portrayed in films depicting old-fashioned mental institutes is a patient wandering around with no clothes on.

In general, in this conventional society, it may merely be seen as immodest. Much more suitable behaviour would be for one to cover up. These stereotypes associated with naturism can lead to negative reactions, such as; embarrassing mocking to more serious humiliation, rejection, angry comments or even abusive behaviour, such as unwanted sexual advances or contact.

In the workplace, this could lead to serious criticism by colleagues.

This stigma causes people hide their naturism, which is ironic, because they are not ashamed of their bodies; in that respect they are physically free. Instead, they are ashamed of the negative connotations, which create a barrier to achieving mental freedom.

 

But why should naturists hide away?

In today’s society diversity is increasingly celebrated. People are accepted as individuals, instead of focusing on their; sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, disability, physical appearance, dietary preferences and interests. In addition, alternative ways of life are now coming to the forefront, and it is becoming more socially acceptable for people to live; in non-conventional households, following eco-friendly principles, as a digital nomad, ‘off-grid’ or ‘off the land’, with a minimalist or spiritual lifestyle. In fact, societal norms such as veganism and meditation have even become desirable, with individuals actively keen to give it a try!

The reason for this is because of the benefits that such lifestyles offer. By enabling people to have a greater awareness of themselves, and be accepted for who they are without judgement or discrimination, and live in a way that makes them feel comfortable, happy, and works for them; can be good for individuals mentally and emotionally (such as increasing self-esteem) and physically, as well as preserving the earth and positively contributing to society as a whole.

 

So why is naturism different?

Naturism is easy to hide. It is easy to be naked in secret, whilst at home or on holiday, away from people you know. It is a part-time activity for some, rather than a full-time lifestyle, so people don’t feel the need to ‘come out’ to their friends and family. However, this can be problematic to the future of naturism:

Parents hide naturism from their children, which means that it will never be passed down through their families, and naturist clubs will remain largely full of older generations, which could cause them to fade out.

Naturism is hidden from wider society, who will therefore believe that they have never met a naturist, none of their friends take their clothes off, and it is a strange concept that they know nothing about. As a result, perceptions are stuck in the past, with outdated terms such as ‘nudist colony’ (taken from the well-known ‘Carry On Camping’ film from the 1960s) still used today.

 

How can we normalise naturism?

First we need to get away from the old-fashioned cult-like perception, and make naturism modern. The terms ‘Nakation’ (a naked vacation), ‘Nakeesation’ (a naked conversation) and ‘Closet nudist’ (those who keep it a secret from people they know) have made it into the urban dictionary, but this is a minor development.

Perhaps we need a re-brand? Naturist organisations exist who intend to change misguided minds, by planning naturist events (such as skinny dips and bike rides) at popular locations, but it is not enough. Naturism It is very rarely portrayed in national newspapers. Articles appear occasionally, but normally only promoting the events mentioned above. In the popular low-brow newspapers, articles regarding naturism are rife with innuendos, depicting the activity as something of a joke. There are dedicated magazines, of course, but these are aimed at naturists already in the know.

Naturism should be included in mainstream television series. ‘Soap operas’ are renowned for tackling a wide variety of modern day social and personal matters (such as LGBT, bullying, gender reassignment, living on the streets, etc.), but never has there been a storyline about naturism. A certain social media platform does not allow uncensored pictures of female nipples to be displayed, implying that they should not be seen (which is clearly absurd). We need advocates to promote and indorse naturism, such as celebrities or other public figures. If they were to stand up and shout that they are proud to be naturist, then the public, particularly the younger generation would deem it as acceptable, and have the confidence to do the same.

But most importantly, it needs be routinely incorporated into everyday life, from the ‘bottom-up’ (pardon the pun) by us, the naturists. We are the most effective means of educating wider society, and dispelling the myths that people have about naturism. By informing others, we remove the mystery. People fear and are suspicious of the unknown. When they realise that ‘normal’ people like their friends, family members, work colleagues, and neighbours are naturists, then their attitude will change. As more people speak out, it will encourage other ‘closet’ naturists to open up, like they did with me. The more it is spoken about, the more ‘normal’ it will become, and may even raise some curiosity.

If we rid ourselves of this mental burden, we will feel as liberated as we do when we remove our clothes. Stop hiding and be ashamed no more.

Let’s achieve true freedom!

Jennifer

Photo credit @ Jennifer

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