Conversations with non-naturists.
And does the sky fall in if you talk about it?
Many nudists and naturists struggle with the issue of whether to tell people about their proclivity to be naked or whether to keep that part of their lives hidden and secret.
When I first identified as a naturist, I told my partner at the time, but for the most part decided to hide that side of my life from others. Largely due to the perceived fear that their reactions might be hostile or disapproving. At the time, my grandchildren were very young and there were concerns about them mentioning to others that Grandad is naked when they visit. The perceived impact of an unreasonable backlash from school or childcare workers or the concerned parents who assume that simple nudity is sexual was not something that I was prepared to risk.
As my naturism journey has progressed I no longer carry the shame of owning up to being a nudist. Perhaps it is because I have aged and the older I get, the less I care what others think.
I don’t shout about my naturism from the rooftops at every opportunity, but I won’t lie about it either. If a question is asked or the topic is raised, I will openly discuss my philosophy with anyone who will listen.
I have several hats (baseball cap style) with the naturist symbol on them and will wear one most days. I also have the naturist symbol in the form of a metal lapel pin on the front centre console of my work vehicle. I drink from a coffee mug with the naturist symbol on it and I have a naturist symbol beach towel. During COVID I had a face mask with the naturist symbol on it and wore it frequently, although masks are no longer required or common here in NZ. I appreciate that not everyone embraces the naturist symbol, but in the absence of a suitable widely accepted alternative, I have decided to run with it.
For many nudists, the idea of admitting to others that they enjoy social nudity can instil feelings of dread or fear. What follows are summaries of conversations that I have had with people, their reactions and the consequences. Names have been omitted to protect the identities of individuals.
I previously wrote in a blog back in July ’23 that as part of my self-care routine, I get my back waxed. The woman who smears hot wax on my skin and then rips it off in an attempt to make me less hirsute asked me what I had got up to the previous weekend, and I told her I went camping at a naturist park. She didn’t seem bothered by the response, but after a while asked if it was true that we all have sex at those places in one big orgy. I assured her that it was just boring people doing everyday things like at any other camping ground, except that there was no body shame. I am not sure if she believed me, but the topic has not been raised again.
A friend of Emma's was visiting to collect her to go to a local woman’s event and in conversation asked what I was going to do while they were away. I said I was going to sit in the sun, reading and writing. She thought that was a wonderful plan and asked where I intended to go, to which I replied I was heading to the naturist park in Katikati. Initially, she thought I was joking, and asked again a few times before asking Emma if I was being serious.
Sometimes, as part of my work, I get to drive around the country with visiting overseas technical experts in our field. Some of these journeys can be many hours, and frequently conversations drift from work-related things to more personal matters. Partners, kids, life where we live, a whole range of topics are often covered. One such visitor noticed the naturist symbol pin on my dashboard and asked about its significance. I told him that It was my membership pin for an exclusive secret society. He looked almost relieved when I told him that it was the naturist symbol and not some subversive Illuminati organisation. He was happy to share that there were times he skinny-dipped, although he didn’t consider himself a nudist or belong to any nudist groups, he saw nothing wrong with the practice or those who do.
When I travel away for work I will often have my personal laptop with me as I take a lunch break in a cafe somewhere. On one such occasion, a woman sitting at the table next to me asked what I was writing about. I told her that I wrote a blog about naturism to which she replied that she could never go publicly naked, but asked if I had been to the local beach, a known nudist spot. We chatted for a short while and she left the cafe she wished me luck with my blog.
While at a social event at our local hostelry, we were seated with a group of people and during the evening Emma mentioned in passing to one person that I wrote a blog. I happily shared the blog topic to which the person admitted that she had always been confused by the naturist/naturalist name and could never remember which word meant what. I suggested a quick way to remember the difference, that a Naturalist makes lists of things natural, whereas naturists don’t. No “L”, no lists. I'm not sure if it will help her or not, perhaps she doesn’t share my pedantry about language and words.
There have been other conversations and remarkably, there have been no adverse consequences from any conversation to date. Even those people who have expressed surprise have later asked questions to try and understand.
It has been interesting seeing people try and process their thoughts on the topic. Sometimes it will be days before they ask a follow-up question.
As yet, not one of the conversations has led to anyone trying naturism themselves (that I know of), but my goal is not recruitment but rather the normalisation of naturism as a valid lifestyle choice.
Chipping away at the stigma that social nudity carries is not easy. It requires a level of confidence and the ability to counter objections and misconceptions. That is often something that comes with practice.
I was once concerned, perhaps frightened of discussing my naturism with others, but I have come to realise that even though not everyone might agree with my lifestyle choice, they accept me for who I am. I haven’t lost any friends by talking about naturism and the sky hasn’t fallen.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. – Dr Susan Jeffers
Thank you for reading. Have a comfortable day.
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