VT Government Update

Representative Clem Bissonette (D) of Winooski has won reelection to the Vermont House. He entered an extremely brief retirement, but since his name was still on the ballot, he has chosen to take his seat. In the last legislative session, he did something quite peculiar.

At the behest of one constitutent – I repeat, ONE CONSTITUENT – he submitted an anti-nudisty bill to be considered. This bill would have annihilated our ability to enjoy Vermont’s natural beauty the best way we know how. A pastor was angry that a man who showed up nude on the streets of Burlington (well within Vermont law) and requested that his representative do something about it.

Even though Mr. Bissonette knew of no other complaints and claimed in the linked story to have no issue with the status quo of Vermont’s law, he entered House Bill 73 which made it a crime to appear anywhere in public nude – punishable by two months of jail time, no less. This would have meant: Goodbye, Ledges; goodbye, Willoughby; goodbye, secluded river spots. And hello, excessive sentencing.

If you don’t think one person can change the world as you know it, think again.

Luckily and thankfully, the bill went absolutely nowhere. But Bissonette is back.

I can’t tell if its laudable that the rep went so far as to draft a bill on behalf of one citizen. Would he move to loosen Vermont’s nudity restrictions of one constituent approached him on that issue? My guess is he wouldn’t, but you never know.

Maybe an enterprising nudist in his district should try.

Nudist Book Review: Old School Texts

When you’re in high school, you are often assigned some of the most stultifying pieces of “lit-ra-chuh,” simply because they are considered “classics.” If you’re like me, these books contributed to a hatred of reading, at least of assigned reading. Think of Moby Dick and its countless passages about the minutiae of whaling or Silas Marner, which just sucked.

Well, sad to say, but that’s what reading our historical nudist “lit-ra-chah” is like. Stilted, austere, written through what seems to be fearful eyes; fearful, perhaps, that the days were numbered on the authors’ ways of life. After all, the story is about nudism, which while a curiosity, was probably not well regarded among what would be considered “respectable company.” And given decency laws, historial Puritanism, and (let’s face it) a country that nearly a century later for some of these books has shown little growth about the human body, they probably felt they had to produce books that read like scholarly articles.

These books were a slog. Often the authors treated “the nudists” as though they were anthropologists glancing in on a foreign society. However, each book has at least one author who was or became a nudist at the time of writing. In many respects, though, it seems as though these authors were scared to write from simply their first hand experience. I suppose there wasn’t much room for the authors to write, “Yeah, that’s right! I’m a naturist and it’s awesome!” So you get pages of examples and statistics, semi-scientific polls, and some pseudoscience about the benefits.

Nudism Comes to America by the Merrills (repackaged as Naturism in the United States) presents a survey of attitudes about nudity and in the U.S. when it first arrived on these shores in the 1930s. They interview psychologists, medical doctors, researchers, and artists, among other factions, which is a worthy enterprise. It is as dry as it is worthy, though, though it is nice to see that generally, the professional world didn’t find the pursuit condemnable.

Maurice Parmelee, a sociology professor at CCNY, wrote Nudism in Modern Life, a more intimate account of the nudists/naturists in his social circle. Uncomfortably to today’s eye, Parmelee writes about bodies being beautiful or ugly and about it having a eugenic purpose to create more beautiful people. The comments about ugliness typically apply to women and he even mentions that some should just keep their clothes on. Essential if you’re a completist, but crikey, it’s not necessary.

Nudist Society and Growing up without Shame also provide exhaustive surveys of nudism in this country. The former clocks in at more than 400 pages and you feel every one of them. Published in the early 1970s, the book takes into account the fact that the sexual revolution puts a new wrinkle into the discussion. They dip into history, look at sexual behavior, family nudism, and even people who left the movement. Very long story short, the authors basically find that nudists are pretty normal people in comparison to the rest of society.

Growing up without Shame looks at family nudism and the perspectives of those who grew up as children within the movement. Based on interviews with young people and their habits as they’ve grown up, they determine that there’s no greater chance at deviance than in the clothed world. In fact, one quote in the book is that a naturist venue was “like a church camp,” basically saying, “Hey! We have morals, too.” And really, isn’t this the intention of such a book? To show that we’re good people?

The latter books are more readable, but stuffed with surveys and statistics in an effort to show nudism’s legitimacy. The boredom they induce might be by design. See? say the authors. It’s dry; it’s stuffy, it’s lit-ra-chuh; it’s scholarly! Basically, there’s nothing to see here. These folks are normal. You might be curious, but the movement isn’t turning folks into marauding hordes. In fact, they could be your neighbors.

It’s nice to get a feel for our history, but as Journey might say, “It goes on and on and on and onnnnnnnn……”

When Calvin & Hobbes Represented Me

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 7.11.34 PMOn the interwebs, you’ll see a lot of nudism articles that ask when someone decided to become a nudist. I believe that nudism is a product of nature and nurture, that not all of us decided, and if you’re like me, you were born this way.

I know I was born this way, because I had a propensity to be naked though I didn’t know what nudism was. I didn’t have familial role models, nor did I have access to anyone who was nudist. Not even a couple hippies in my suburban youth. I’d hear about nudist venues as I got a little older and think, someday… But overall, it was me alone, wondering if I were crazy.

I found solace in the little things: the occasional news story, though it was relegated to the “weird news” pile, the Andrew Martinez saga at Berkeley, or a piece of art that sneaked through to my young eyes. Sometimes, I’d pretend I was a non-human animal and imagine what it would be like just not to have to wear clothes. And that’s when Bill Watterson produced a comic that seemed aimed right at me. It’s environmental and it ends with Calvin choosing to walk as one with his non-human animal friend, casting aside his garments and striding along in his natural state.

That comic strip was a whisper that maybe I wasn’t as crazy as I thought I was, that even though this was a fictional character, the real-life human behind it had a similar impetus that led him to draw it. That Calvin had the courage to walk nude with his tiger friend through the woods, unconcerned about who might come across him, empowered me as a fellow misunderstood-in-many-ways kid. Empowered me to know that despite what society was preaching, there was another way of being.

I struggled to accept myself as a nudist, cringed at the word for years, and suppressed it to the point of making myself absolutely miserable. But through it all, that Calvin and Hobbes Sunday comic burned brightly in my mind and became a beacon that brought me through toward greater acceptance. It’s why the “I’m with you” panel graces the Twitter page for this site. And why I hold Watterson’s work in such high regard to this day.

He gets me, I thought. And that helped see me through.

The Best Community

When you’re at a nudist destination, you share common cause with everyone there. Perhaps that’s why everyone is so nice and conversation flows among strangers easily.

I think about my time on clothed beaches or really at any destination where I’ve taken some leisure time. In those spaces, we keep to ourselves, one of hundreds of ships passing in the night. Think about it. Do you just start up a conversation with random people you see at the park or a beach? People would look at you suspiciously, wouldn’t they?

But when you’re at a nudist destination, you’ve all worked really hard to get there for one specific purpose. You’re probably all keeping your activities at some level a secret. And so, it’s a relief to be among people who hold the same values you do, at least in terms of practicing nudism. These are your people.

A common saying is that nudism is egalitarian. Without clothes and other accoutrements of daily life, you have no idea how much the person the next towel over makes, how much education they might have, or even what they believe politically (though I have heard a rather amicable discussion despite disagreement on the candidate at one venue). Stripping away clothing strips away all those preconceived notions. The important part is that you’re all there.

At The Ledges, in Wilmington, we’ve had long conversations with people we’d never met before, some we’d never meet again. Often, the discussion begins with what brought us there, how long we’ve been part of this community, and other topics that revolve around being nudists. Then, after a bit, the conversation will shift toward general topics.

What has struck me at every venue I’ve attended is just how pleasant and accommodating everyone is. In fact, I’ve only met one rude nudist in my life. My guess is that our common cause makes us be kinder than how people are in everyday life. The mentality is that we’re all in this together, let’s not screw this up, and we’ll probably run into each other again.

Perhaps, we’re just so happy to have a venue that serves our interests, so why would we be grouchy with one another?

In life, I’ve been part of churches, sports teams, school classes, families, and work staffs. No matter what, I’ve found the nudist community, my community, to be the kindest that I’ve ever met.

Additionally, we practice non-judgment. It doesn’t matter how you look, if you fit classical standards of beauty, or if you’re the embodiment of features the wider society likes to ridicule. We all have our insecurities, but I feel less self-conscious nude than when in a bathing suit. Consider, our swimsuits draw attention to our bodies, drawing the gaze to certain areas. The modesty suit actually sexualizes us, while the birthday suit equalizes us.

Is every nudist a paragon of all that’s good in the world? Of course not. But I’ve found that our sense of community draws out the best within us. And for that, I’m grateful to have this community in my life.

Welcome to The Full Vermonty

Vermont is a quite welcoming place for those who prefer life a little less encumbered. At least in the summertime. As the chill of autumn brings the promise of a frigid five or six months, our thoughts aren’t quite on naturism right now. Instead we’re turning inward, thinking about the celebrations that bring nature inside our house, and finding we’re more likely to add a layer than remove one.

Even though it’s growing colder, and those who enjoy nakedness outdoors (naturists) are trading in their sunscreen for a parka, nudism is a yearlong pursuit for those who identify as nudists. Perhaps we’re clothing averse or we just don’t care where we’re nude, we just feel better unclothed. For us, we might find ourselves huddling by the fire instead of reaching for a sweater. Either way, our enthusiasm turns to thoughts of what the next year will bring.

And that’s how The Full Vermonty was born.

When we moved to Vermont, we had heard of the famed Ledges in southern Vermont. Finding information about that terrific spot was pretty easy, but learning about other opportunities was a lot more difficult. Generally speaking, this website has come into being to provide a one-stop-shop for nudist/naturist needs for Vermonters and those hoping to enjoy our terrific state.

What this site is is a reference guide to up-to-date information. Of keen interest is activity in the state legislature that could threaten our way of life and being, so we keep an eye on activities there. Additionally, this site links to venues, events, and organizational resources to help build your sense of community. Anyone who has attended a naturist destination knows how welcoming this community is, but life can be pretty lonely if you’re new to this or don’t know any naturists, so hopefully this site will help bridge a gap. Or at least let you know we exist.

As a child, I did not grow up in a nudist environment, but I was fascinated every time I heard about beaches or campgrounds, etc. It was hard keeping me in clothes, but not having any role models, I developed a sense of shame about this aspect of my being and became rather obsessive about covering up. I thought there had to be something wrong with me or that I was weird.

It was a part of me, though, and when I tried to suppress it, I felt worse about myself, not better. I was “out” with people in part of my life, but people who knew me when I was young didn’t know. For a while, I lived a double life that was quite hard, but the people closest to me from that era now know and all is well.

There is a debate as to whether nudism is a product of nature or nurture. I believe it can be both. I assert I was born this way, that it is inherent to my being. Given that I didn’t have any examples in my life, but that I was drawn away from clothes at such a young age, no one ever nurtured it in me. It simply was who I was. And who I am. Finding self acceptance has been a wonder and hopefully you can find a little piece of that wonder on this site.

The blog is dedicated to nudist/naturist issues, body image and acceptance, environmental concerns, and peace. We will not be hosting photos; rather, this site will be more about the philosophical concerns of nudism and naturism.

We view this site as a service to our community. We hope that you find it helpful and that if you stick around as this blog grows, that you find inspiration.