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Nudist culture ─ Piercings, tattoos, and grooming

Body piercings can be controversial.
Body piercings can be controversial.
By Gardenparty (This file was derived from: Naturist woman 2.jpg) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Over the years things like body piercings and associated jewelry, tattoos and grooming habits like pubic hair shavings have been controversial in the nudist and naturist community.

To large extent, the absence of pubic hair and tattoos is less of an issue at landed nudist clubs and resorts than in the past, but a post found recently at the American Association for Nude Recreation community forums illustrates some nudists still have a problem with tattoos. In the post by a woman who had visited a nudist club, she stated that she had been "lectured" and had received "disparaging comments" about some tattoos on her body that were not inherently offensive. Those doing the lecturing and making negative comments seemed to simply object to tattoos in general.

[More from Dallas Nudist Culture Examiner: 9 things not do at a nudist resort]

At many clubs and resorts however, genital piercings are still considered taboo. Here is an example related policy guideline published by one well known nudist club which will remain unidentified since the purpose of this article is not to cast dispersions or start a heated debate.

"Genital jewelry is not allowed. Prior to arrival please ensure that any genital jewelry is removed. Other body jewelry should be small, inconspicuous and understated."

In comparison, here is a very different view on piercings, tatoos and grooming as expressed at the Haulover website.

"Since you’re in a clothing-optional environment, if you get naked, your whole body will be out for people to see. This may be a concern if you have piercings, tattoos, or groom yourself in a way that is normally only seen when you’re completely naked. So you can ease your concerns: Nobody cares!

People who go to clothing-optional beaches (like Haulover Beach) have no piercings, some may have genital piercings, others might have nipple piercings, many have ear piercings, etc. Some people have tattoos, some do not. Many women and men shave off their pubic hair, others choose not to. There’s nothing to be concerned about – all walks of life visit Haulover Beach and have a great time!"

Here is one other published policy related to genital piercings and jewelry from another AANR-affiliated landed club website.

"Body Piercing: Studs, bars, and small hoops are permitted. All body jewelry should be SMALL and INCONSPICUOUS. Jewelry that attracts a lot of attention is not welcome."

It is understandable why some nudists and naturists object to genital jewelry. As noted in a rather comprehensive article on the topic at Medicine, "A common motivation for genital piercing is, obviously, sexual." Since traditional nudism and naturism is about the enjoyment of wholesome, no-sexual nudity it is easy to see why some might view genital piercings and jewelry as a blatant attempt to draw attention to specific body parts that our society and culture tends to view as sexual parts, a notion that the nudist and naturist community is continually trying to dispel. After all in the culture of nudism, the message is nudity does not lead to sex even though in appropriate circumstances sex can lead to nudity.

Still, no one should simply assume they know what another person's motivation is for getting a body piercing, tattoo or grooming himself or herself in a particular way. With respect to piercings, quoting again from the article at Medicine, "Part of the appeal of piercing has typically been in its visibility, the way in which a pierced nose or tongue sets a person off from most of the people around him or her, or perhaps challenges societal norms." In other words, it isn't necessarily always about sex or sexuality but is often simply a means of self-expression.

It seems in a culture that represents itself as one where people and their bodies are accepted as they are, rejecting someone because of their grooming habits or because they choose to adorn their bodies with tattoos or piercings is more than a little judgmental. Here the discussion on genital jewelry is limited to that associated with piercings, not the non-piercing variety of genital adornments that are clearly associated with the sexual and in some cases other alternative sexual lifestyles which is an entirely different matter.

Another reason that club policies prejudiced against genital piercings and jewelry are not only counter-intuitive to the concept of acceptance but also counter-productive is that such are quite common with those of the younger generations.

Generations like individuals have personalities. The Millennials, the generation that include teenagers and young adults in their twenties, is a self-expressive, liberal generation open to change. As a group they embrace multiple modes of self-expression. According to statistics from Pew Social & Demographic Trends, of those who are a part of that demographic, "Nearly four-in-ten have a tattoo (and for most who do, one is not enough: about half of those with tattoos have two to five and 18% have six or more). Nearly one-in-four have a piercing in some place other than an earlobe."

Of course having a piercing other than pierced ears also includes things like eyebrow and nose piercings but demonstrably, genital piercings are also popular with Millennials. Restrictive policies that forbid genital jewelry or that require it to be removed before entering a nudist facility could be just another thing to discourage young adults from visiting them.

Certainly the nudist and naturist community does and should have standards but perhaps the focus should be on enforcing behaviors like the prohibitions against overt sexual activity or any behavior that would require an apology rather than relatively minor standards having to do with appearance which at best are often subjectively applied. In a culture of freedom and acceptance is it really necessary to try and regulate matters of self-expression?


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