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The case for living openly as a nudist or naturist

Deciding to come out as a nudist or naturist.
Deciding to come out as a nudist or naturist.By Time3000 (Vector version of Image:Censorship.png) GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Coming out and living openly as a nudist or naturist is really a quite similar proposition to that faced by members of the LGBT community. Many of the same fears and obstacles must be faced. But the truth is coming out may be the most important thing a naturist or nudist can do for himself or herself on the individual level and for the culture as a whole.

Nudist and naturist Americans are sons and daughters, bankers and lawyers, teachers and fire fighters, small business owners and college students. Those involved in the clothes free lifestyle come from virtually every walk of like and social-economic level. They serve or have served in the military and make significant contributions to the nation and society at every level.

In all that diversity, nudists and naturists have one thing in common: they like being nude because being nude feels good, especially when enjoying the great outdoors and it's more comfortable than wearing clothes.

Nudists and naturists aren't ashamed of being naked or of the fact that they enjoy being naked but many keep that aspect of their lives under wraps and separate from their everyday lives. Even in the company of other like-minded people, rarely do nudists reveal personal details like last names and where they work. To do so risks being found out. Family members, friends, co-workers, customers or employers that wouldn't understand might find out about a person's passion for pursuing a nude lifestyle.

Those fears are valid. Open nudity remains a taboo in our society. There is a real possibility that a person might be ostracized, demonized and even be discriminated against if they decide to be open about being a naturist or nudist. Those in some jobs and professions have legitimate reasons to fear they might lose their job if their employer found out they participated in the social nudity lifestyle.

[More from Dallas Nudist Culture Examiner: Nudity and sex - telling the truth and nothing but]

Still there are some compelling reasons why every nudist or naturist should consider coming out and being open with family, friends, co-workers and even strangers about their lifestyle choice. It's about authenticity.

Being honest about that aspect of your life isn't easy. It's hard to talk to people outside the lifestyle you care about and sometimes you don't know all the words to say. Yet those who do so meet the challenge and responsibility of helping to normalize nudism and naturism which has to happen before wholesome, non-sexual nude living will every receive greater tolerance from those in our wider society and culture.

The purpose of this discussion is not to attempt to shame or pressure anyone into telling the world that he or she is a nudist or naturist. Each individual makes that decision and meets this challenge in their own way and in their own time and that's the way it should be. Coming out and living more openly is a process and you should always be in charge when it comes to how, where, when and with whom you choose to be open about it. Instead this is a guide with realistic, practical suggestions on how to implement the decision to come out.

From childhood most of us were raised to fit into the mold society chooses for us, to act, feel and behave in certain ways. Part of that included being taught to believe that open nudity is shameful and indecent and that nudity is always sexual. Many of us never expected to grow up to question and reject those overly restrictive social norms. That's why a first-time social nudity experience tends to be such an out of this world experience.

But even when people discover that they can break free from the repressive cultural sanctions against nudity simply by removing their clothing it is difficult to completely divorce themselves from the broader culture upon which they are dependent where public nudity continues to evoke disgust and ridicule. Many proponents of nude living usually maintain a low profile, not wishing to incur what seems to be inevitable hostility.

Throughout the coming out process it is normal to feel uncertain, scared and vulnerable but sometimes secret nudists and naturists are projecting on others their own insecurities.

Most people come out sooner or later because they just can't stand hiding who they are anymore. They want stronger, more authentic and fulfilling relationships with the people they care about which isn't really possible when a person hides something that is such an integral part of who he or she is.

There are some real benefits to opening up about being a nudist or naturist;

  • Living an open and whole life
  • Developing closer, more genuine relationships
  • Increased self-esteem from being known and cared about for who you really are
  • Reducing the stress of hiding your passion for the nude lifestyle
  • Helping to dispel the myths and misconceptions about what it means to be a nudist or naturist
  • Making it easier for other nudists and naturists to open up about their involvement in the lifestyle
  • Normalizes nude in the eyes of society when more normal, everyday people reveal that they are nudists and naturists

Still, realistically there are also some risks involved in deciding to be open about being a nudist or naturist. Some will be less than accepting and judgmental. Risks that must be weighed include;

  • Not everyone will be accepting, understanding or supportive
  • Some family members, friends and co-workers may be shocked and even hostile
  • Some relationships may be irrevocably changed
  • You may experience ridicule or discrimination

You must weigh the risks and the benefits of being open about your lifestyle and you are in charge of deciding who to confide in, when to do it and how.

There is no right or wrong way to be more open about your nudist or naturist lifestyle. Choosing to be more open about it does not mean you have to be open about it in all places, at all times or with all people. Being a nudist or naturist is an important part of who you are as a person but it doesn't define you. Being a nudist or naturist doesn't change all the other unique things that make you, you.

Anyone deciding to be open about their nudist or naturist lifestyle should be prepared for questions. That preparation includes being informed about nudist/naturist philosophies and values and knowing what to say. One thing to remember is it isn't really possible to explain the attraction of nude living to someone who has never tried it. It is sort of like the ancient parable of the blind men and the elephant.

That story is told from the point of view of those who are not blind and can clearly see that six blind men were unable to grasp the full reality of an elephant by only being able to get hold of one part of it. Explaining nudism to a non-nudist is quite similar.

While there are plenty of valid arguments that support of nudism and naturism - it is liberating and empowering, it removes artificial society-imposed inhibitions, it's healthy, it promotes body acceptance, etc. - that never really sinks in with someone who has never removed all their clothing and experienced any of that firsthand. So instead of all the platitudes, just keep things simple. A perfect example of such simplicity can be found at MojoNude. You might simply say as the writer there puts it, "I’m a nudist because I like being naked. Being naked feels good and it’s comfortable. I don’t care about seeing others naked nor do I care about anyone seeing me naked. I enjoy the comfort of not wearing clothes."

Secret nudists and undercover naturists combined with open nudity being primarily quarantined by society in gated clubs and resorts surrounded by privacy fences that screen nudity from public view contribute to shrouding nudism and naturism in mystery. That perpetuates the myth that those who engage in social nudity are cranks, crack pots, eccentrics and over-sexed perverts.

Only when the rest of society are made to face the facts that those who like to be nude are normal, everyday people just like them, the misconceptions and stereotypes will continue unabated. More openness among members of the community would go a long way toward normalizing nude.

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