From time to time articles appear from various news sources proclaiming the end is in sight for nudism. Just last summer an article noted that membership in the American Association for Nude Recreation has dropped precipitously from a high of more than 50,000 to about 35,000 members.
The standard explanation in many of the articles is that nudism was a product of the rebellious 60s and as members of the "hippie generation" continue to age and eventually die off, interest and participation in social nudity will naturally decline. Perhaps a part of that theory is just wishful thinking.
It is true nudism for the most is a subculture that rejects established social norms much like those involved in the hippie movement did during the mid-1960s. But I have always found that rather common misconception in general society that nudists are the progeny of the hippie movement somewhat amusing.
It's amusing from the perspective that evidently most people outside of nudist culture are completely unaware that social nudity has been practiced in the U.S. since at least 1929. The nudist subculture preceded Woodstock by several decades.
There is a however a grain of truth in reports that nudism is declining. In a recent post about the upcoming 2014 elections for the American Association for Nude Recreation published in the The Altogether, the association's official weblog, it was stated, "The board and executive officers elected in 2014 will be responsible for setting direction to reverse the continuing decrease in membership..." There is no denying then that AANR membership is declining.
It isn't enthusiasm for nudism as a lifestyle choice that is declining, but interest in holding membership in nudist organizations. Along with that, there is less interest especially among young adults in visiting traditional nudist clubs as the first choice for social nudity or naturist activities venues.
Part of the problem may be that traditional nudist clubs weren't willing or agile enough to make changes that might have made such facilities more appealing to younger nudists yet other factors are at work. Generation X and the Millennials just aren't as interested in joining organizations as were past generations. Memberships in nudist organizations are declining for the same reason that memberships are declining in fraternal organizations like Moose Lodges and the Elks.
Today American nudist and naturist organizations seem to be primarily occupied with fighting a rear guard action, dug in and trying to cling to the hard won clothing-optional victories won during the Lee Baxandall era. That brings to mind a quote from Ellis, a character in the film No Country for Old Men, "All the time you spend trying to get back what's been took from you, more is going out the door."
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In large measure, decline of club nudism is simply the product of the natural evolution of nudist culture. Along with rejecting established social norms regarding when it is appropriate to be nude, I think the younger nudist generation also rejects the notion that public nudity has to be quarantined to specific venues to appease those in society who don't approve of it. I think that is a positive and believe change is good.
Based on what you see and hear these days on the web and elsewhere it appears quite evident that interest in being nude because it is relaxing, liberating, comfortable and just good, wholesome fun is growing, especially among young adults. They simply prefer to do nudism in the ways that make sense for them rather than embracing the ways past generations have done it. I personally don't see anything wrong with that.
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