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Throw in the towel.
While I have long been interested in spending time naked, and have slept naked since the age of 12, it wasn’t until 2011 that I finally decided to identify as a nudist.
At that stage, I was vaguely aware of the term naturist, but probably couldn’t have explained the difference. It would be some years before I identified as more of a naturist than a nudist, but I am still happy with both labels.
Something that I often heard discussed in online communications and published material, was the notion that naturists and nudists should always sit on a towel or some other fabric. It was considered nude etiquette and good manners.
One of my favourite authors, and the man who came up with the most plausible explanation I have yet heard for our existence on this planet, Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,
“The towel is the most useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”
Although his writing is comedic and part of a larger work, the idea that a towel is essential has stayed with me.
I have noticed in recent times the increasing number of images of people out and about, seated and naked but not sitting on a towel.
I get that in the privacy of your own home, you might not bother, but when out in public or when visiting friends, I would have thought that sitting on a towel was a considerate gesture.
I am not sure there is any empirical evidence that sitting naked on a surface is actually unhygienic. Humans are the only species to hide our natural form behind an artificial layer, and we don’t see other animals (primates especially) getting sick in great numbers by not shielding their backsides when seated.
Someone once told me that we are likely to carry far more germs on our hands than anywhere else and I vaguely recall some research that found that the dirtiest thing in the bathroom was the door handle, not the toilet seat as you might expect.
As a species, I hope that we are now fairly adept at washing ourselves regularly, and it may be that sitting on a towel is more symbolic than unhygienic. But as it is so often in life, perception is everything, and for many perception is reality. I can equally accept that there might well be hygiene issues with people sitting bare-arsed on shared seating.
By placing a towel beneath my bare backside when seated, I am signalling to others that I am respectful, or at least attempting to be. Not only that, a towel adds a level of cushioning and comfort to outdoor seating that might be rigid or coarse against bare skin.
Even at home, the chair I usually sit on is covered, and if I sit naked elsewhere, I will often put a towel on the chair first. To be fair, this is largely because I don’t like sitting on a cold surface, but it is a habit that I have gotten used to.
Some cultures have differing views on seating etiquette. The indigenous Maori people of New Zealand consider it bad form to sit on a table, especially one where food is prepared. While that is not something that I was bought up with, it is a view I can respect and I try diligently to abide by.
I have several small towels specifically for sitting on and always have one handy in my naked grab bag. This is a small bag with my beach towel, seat towel, sunblock, insect repellant and a hat. Usually, before I head out anywhere, I add a bottle of water and a book to the contents of the bag. The grab bag is always in my vehicle when I am away from home on work trips so that I can take advantage of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors naturally. Nothing helps combat the daily work stress like finding a quiet sunny spot beside a river, stream or along our coastline, to boost my vitamin D levels.
I get that some people might find rules a bit restrictive, especially when expressing freedom through divesting clothing, but perhaps some rules are seated in rational reason. Maybe rather than a rule, we should consider towel etiquette more of a guide, and good practice.
It strikes me that images and instances of naked people sitting on shared seating, without a towel, may give the already outraged more ammunition to argue against our lifestyle and campaign authorities for increasing restrictions on naked freedoms.
There seems to be enough outrage against us already and towel etiquette is a small price to pay to reduce the reasons people have to object to our existence.
There's a frood who really knows where his towel is.
– Douglas Adams,
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.