On 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.