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Be the inviter as well as the invited.
A long time ago in the long dark midsts of time, in the times before facemasks, social distancing, lockdowns and misinformation on social media. I'm talking about 2019, so chronologically not that long ago, but it feels like a lifetime. Anyway back in what seems like ages ago, a group of naturists here in Tauranga used to get together once a month at a local hot pool for a regular catchup and a meal. The venue was normally closed on a Monday evening, but once a month would open up specifically for our group, and offered a set menu (to simplify catering) and use of the hot pool facilities.
A combination of Covid and a change of ownership at the venue means that these regular events no longer happen.
It was nearly 2 years until we managed to get together with a handful of friends. The regular get-togethers that some of us had relied upon to maintain our naturist connections had ceased to be, and many of us simply drifted on waiting for someone else to organise something and for us to be invited along.
Recently I attended two events that have both been on my bucket list and coincidentally were both scheduled to happen on the same weekend.
As covered in my last two blogs, one was a WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) event and the other was a naked hike in the forest.
One of the people behind the organisation of both events had recently posted an article on an online naturist forum that I subscribe to. In the article, he asked, “Have we got this all wrong?”
The article suggests that maybe we should focus on the activity rather than the nakedness. Perhaps looking at allowing clothing-optional participation in a range of social groups and activities might help normalise simple social nudity more softly.
Both the naked bike ride and the forest walk were locally promoted as clothing-optional events, and participants were invited to “Bare as you dare”.
Although the Waihi naked bike ride is fundamentally a naked event, (the clue is in the name), the main messages are of environmental concern and cyclist visibility. Not everyone who participated in the event would consider themselves fully-fledged naturists, and nudity would not have been everyone's motivation for attending.
Similarly, the forest walk was promoted as clothing optional, and not everyone on the walk was naked.
Making these events clothing optional gave non-naturist people who are not offended by social nudity, the opportunity to join in where the activity was the motivation rather than the clothing choice. By promoting activities as clothing optional, we allow the broader public to get exposed to social nudity without the need to get naked themselves.
Having a mixture of naked and non-naked people getting involved may help dispel some of the stigmas that the public show towards naked activities. Seeing naked people alongside clothed people who are showing indifference to the lack of clothing can only help normalise nudity.
My participation in these events was more than just turning up. By meeting new people with a common interest, I was expanding my network of naturist contacts and strengthening the bonds in the local naturist community. Since Covid, our regular events had gone by the wayside, and some of those bonds had begun to unravel. In attending these events, I contributed to their success and made it more likely that people would organise other events in the future.
Of course, there will be people who would never consider joining an event if any of the participants would be naked, but there are people for whom nudity is not a big issue, and the cause or the activity itself is more the attraction than the clothing choice. It is this group of people that can help normalise social nudity more than we might realise.
If we spend all our time waiting for others to organise events, it may be a long time between drinks. Sometimes it is better to be the inviter than the invited. Increasing the number of times that you invite others to join you is likely to increase the number of times you are invited to join others.
It might just be a trip to the beach or a local park, but let your local naturist friends and contacts know. The worst that can happen is that no one else joins you and you go alone as you had planned, but at least you are giving people the opportunity to join in.
More importantly, if you can't be the one to invite others to an event you have planned or organised, be the person who supports those who do by turning up when they invite you.
The more often we get out and get involved in events, the more successful they will be, and the stronger the connections with our local naturist communities.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.