I just want the same choice you have.
I was recently engaged in an online conversation with a friend of mine, Jay@J068downsouth, and I was reminded of a comment that he made back in April 2020.
“Acceptance won't make anyone participate, we are simply asking for equal opportunity to enjoy our time & activities in the nude! We'd NEVER force you to get naked, but many demand we get dressed! If you don't like nudity, stay dressed, but STOP judging us!”
This got me thinking. I had been writing a few words on topics to do with naturism and nudity and the reluctance of wider society to accept the practice, and this statement encapsulated something that I had previously ignored.
As a practising naturist with a network of clothing-optional friends and associates across the world, most of my writing had been along the line that naturism is a wonderful philosophy to live by, and why doesn’t everyone embrace it? I had ignored the fact that we weren’t demanding that everyone embrace naturism, just that we wanted the freedom to enjoy it, without criticism.
I guess I had approached most of my writing by softly introducing the ideas of naturism and highlighting the benefits of the practice, much like someone would try and explain the benefits of a particular belief to someone they were trying to convert. While I don’t consider my efforts evangelical, I suppose they may have come across to some people too afraid of nudity as a bit pushy.
There are health benefits, wellbeing benefits, body confidence benefits, and social benefits, not to mention the cost benefits of a smaller wardrobe and less frequent clothes washing. Why wouldn’t anyone want to have those?
I had neglected to mention the negative sides of practising nudity, and there are some. There needn’t be, but society is not ready to welcome the philosophy with open arms. Ignorance and ridicule are common negative elements, but in some communities that can include exclusion, ostracisation and even criminal charges.
Society has a warped sense of values, celebrating violence, but cowering from the naked human form. We readily show all manner of damaging content on many media platforms, but the outrage and shock exhibited on viewing the naked body is a loud and constant reminder that society does not intend to accept social nudity anytime soon.
The hypocrisy of this situation is something often used by naturists to articulate how ridiculous some community standards are.
A common criticism I hear is that we risk damaging children, that children must be protected at whatever cost from the evils of nudity and nakedness. Interestingly, some research suggests that children bought up in a clothing-optional environment are often more balanced, well-rounded individuals with a stronger sense of self-confidence and more respect for diversity.
If society really cared about the children, why are there so many examples of media, advertising and attitudes that promote body shame, demonise the natural body and suppress expressions of individuality.
The naturist philosophy has nothing to do with sex. A common misconception is that because people are naked, it must be sexual. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are just normal people doing everyday things, but we prefer to do those things without clothes. Housework, gardening, reading, whatever it is that you spend your time doing, those are the things that naturists get up to. Nothing sinister, just boring stuff, but in the buff.
Outrage and hostility toward any showing of public nudity or the innuendo and sexualisation of the practice by the media reporting on naturist events, do nothing to dispel the myths and ignorance that the wider public has of the lifestyle.
There is a reason why some protests and protest movements use nudity. It gets noticed by the media and gets the message out there.
An advertising campaign against the use of wearing animal fur used naked celebrities to highlight their message. While the images were carefully taken to avoid showing bare breasts or, god forbid, genitals, nudity was used as an acceptable marketing campaign to raise social awareness on an issue.
Society is happy to accept a carefully curated celebrity nude for a worthwhile cause but just as likely to call the authorities if your average person were to be seen naked outside, even on their own property.
This double standard is curious. Have we been conditioned to believe that only beautiful and well-known people can be confident enough to challenge societal norms, love their bodies and embrace nudity? What about the not so beautiful people? What about the 99.9% of us that do not get on the cover of magazines or have advertising contracts? Can we not embrace our bodies confidently and celebrate our uniqueness.
Many minority groups have to fight for acceptance, despite overwhelming common sense, just to be accepted. Nudists or naturists, whichever term you chose are no different. A minority group of people who chose to do everyday things, but without clothes, simply because it is more comfortable.
Human beings are the only know lifeforms to use clothing to hide their shame, and not all humans do this. So it could be argued that globally, the wearing of clothes is a minority activity.
I had previously come up with a tweet that said, “If you have nothing to wear, then wearing nothing should be an acceptable option”, and you may see this theme repeated throughout my posts. I just want the choice to be naked if I choose, without fear of harm or ridicule.
We don’t live in an equal world, there are many injustices and inequalities. Injustices based on education, race, religion and gender. Women are less likely to be paid as much as men for doing the same job. Older people are more likely to be passed over for jobs in favour of younger people. Access to healthcare or education is becoming the privilege of the wealthy. Men can walk down the street topless, but women can’t.
If we ever want to live in a truly equal world, then we need to accept that people should be allowed to make choices to live how they like, and unless their lifestyle harms others, we really have no right to stop them, even if we don’t agree with it.
Being naked in public does no harm and indeed there are many benefits for those who choose to live that way. I'm not suggesting everyone goes nude, but the right to wear nothing should not be denied to those who want that choice.
The world is slowly changing, and there are many examples of things tolerated today that only 50 or so years ago were hidden or even illegal. Same-sex marriages are thankfully more accepted now, and gender identity issues are becoming more tolerated. Vegetarians were once considered a fringe group, and many had to justify their choice, now it is a mainstream dietary choice. There have been significant improvements in the treatment of disabled people and those with mental illness. We are closing the pay gap for women in the workforce, slowly. There is still a long way to go for all of these groups, and many still suffer from the ignorance and prejudice that they have been fighting for many many years, but progress is being made.
The big point that I had missed from my previous writings, the one my friend’s comment that started this piece highlighted to me, is that nudists and naturists don’t want to force clothed people to undress, we just want the same consideration from others, and not be forced to wear clothes all the time ourselves.
Yes, we are a minority group, but there are many more of us out there than you might think. If you choose to wear clothes, we are not going to force you to be naked. All we want is the same respect for our choice.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.