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Nudism and a changing social environment

Continuous social change brings about opportunities as well as challenges to be met.
Continuous social change brings about opportunities as well as challenges to be met.
Image by Travelplanner. Contains artwork from Wikimedia Commons. (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

Nudism like all aspects of society continually faces a changing social environment. Some changes bring advantages and others present new challenges.

Some of the potentially advantageous changes for naturists and nudists include --

  • Thanks to the Internet and the proliferation of devices to access it, communication and the ability to publish and access information about nudism is instantaneous and relatively inexpensive.
  • There has been an increase in accessible, articulate and credible commentators on a wide variety of nudist and naturist issues.
  • More people who don't necessarily embrace naturist/nudist philosophy are embracing nude recreational opportunities like upscale resorts and nude cruises.
  • While not yet an everyday occurrence, positive mainstream media coverage of nudism is becoming more common.
  • The up and coming Millennial Generation is more interested than past generations in spending their money on "experiences" than on acquiring stuff.
  • Due to the stress of the frantic pace of modern life, more people may be open to experiencing new ways to relax and de-stress.

Some of the challenges naturists and nudists face due to change comprise --

  • While to some degree attitudes towards sexuality have become more liberal and relaxed, nudity continues to be taboo and in recent years there is less acceptance and tolerance of simply nudity than in years past.
  • Simple nudity continues to be criminalized by a majority of municipalities and states which contributes to existing and common misconceptions that nude is lewd.
  • People's lives are busier than ever making leisure time scarce which makes them less likely to join organizations and clubs or to devote themselves to causes.
  • The extended economic downturn has left many, especially young adults and families with less disposable income to spend on visits to traditional nudist resorts and clubs.
  • More people are reluctant to be labeled, especially if it involves an “ist” due to a growing perception that getting involved in nudism or naturism requires radical changes to one’s lifestyle.
  • There remains a significant divide between nudists who believe nudism is private and appropriate to dedicated locations only and naturists who desire more freedom to be nude in public natural spaces.
  • Poor individual body image continues to be high especially among younger adults and body shame remains high in society in general.

Certainly nudism needs to exploit the advantages that change offers but it is even more vital that national organizations as well as individual nudists and naturists work hard at overcoming the very significant challenges that changes in the social environment present. It is very evident to those looking at current circumstances that the community is not at the present time doing nearly enough in that regard.

For one thing, as the lack of success in attracting signatures to the recent clothing optional access petition illustrates, there are serious divisions within the ranks of the naturist and nudist community itself. The current situation where there are two national organizations that don't cooperate with each other in any meaningful way but instead pursue their own particular paradigm with regard to advancing nudism is likely one of the biggest impediments to nudism prospering in this country.

The U.S. alone is the one country without a single, unified voice for the advancement of the culture. Having two organizations that for the most part attempt to represent only one segment of the community predictably promotes division. This it could be argued not only fails to serve the best interests of nudism but may ultimately render both organizations less and less relevant creating a need for a new national organization that will actively work to heal the rift and unify all American nudists and naturists under one umbrella.

In a follow up column, next time we will examine some specific ways that the naturist/nudist community might do more both in capitalizing on the opportunities available and in meeting the sizable challenges brought about by changes in the social environment to gain traction in moving the culture in a mainstream direction.

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