Why Aren’t You?

Inevitably, whether someone accepts my reality or not, the questions come up: Why are you a naturist/nudist? Why would you want to see other people naked? How can you be naked around other people? And many variations on the theme.

These questions come from our Puritanical roots, of course, and are the product of a society built on fear of the body and body shaming. So, I don’t blame the people who ask. How could I? The cultural messaging is clear: Unless used to sell things, human skin is evil, shameful, disgusting. A body must look a certain way to be acceptable nude. Nakedness is gross.

We’ve come a long way backward from my grandfather skinnydipping in the river near his house with friends in the 1930s and his sister once saying in the 80s about a topless woman sunbathing, “It’s just skin.” School showers are a thing of the past. Even people who properly using adult gym locker rooms are mocked in various media. While at the same time, we use skin and the false equation that nudity = sex as a marketing tool to a) sell things and b) make the buyer feel inadequate. So, the message compounds and no wonder everyone is afraid of their own shadow, and worse, their own bodies.

The questions from the curious mentioned at the top serve to put anyone receiving them on the defensive. What they’re saying is: Justify your way of being to me. Make your excuse because you don’t conform to societal, cultural, and my expectations.

Again, these questions and the demands behind them are fear-based, conditioned responses from people who can’t imagine an alternative way of being. In an open and understanding way, we could answer their questions with a question of our own: Why aren’t you? It will give them something to ponder and hopefully they can come up with a mature response. We don’t need to put them on the defensive, of course, but we can remove the aggression of trying to make us lose our footing in the conversation.

Maybe we then invite them to try it, with us or on their own. My recent revelation to one friend (who had questions, but never put me on the defensive) has led to him finding himself as part of our community. In fact, he’s said it’s one of the best things he’s ever done for himself.

As for me, when I’ve accepted the defensive posture, I’ve been clear that I have always been this way, though I suppressed it for many years to the detriment of my own health. That I don’t necessarily want to see other people naked (as in, I don’t go through life picturing everyone with their clothes off) but that I do want to be around members of my community and that comes with the territory. And because I am who I am, being nude among my community is perfectly normal, as in context as wearing a tux as part of the wedding party, we just happen to be nude among each other as a clothing optional community.

For those of you who have dealt with aggression or lack of understanding, maybe this will help.


Updates to the Site

A little overhaul this long weekend on the website:

  • Updates to some of the static pages
  • A few new images to make it more personal
  • And the blog is now the landing page when you come here

Thanks for reading, all!

In N Magazine

I am published in the recent issue of N, the magazine of The Naturist Society. I wrote a story, titled “Born This Way,” about how I grew into who I am as a clothing optionalist. I had an aversion to being dressed all the time long before I heard the words “nudist” or “naturist,” but I didn’t have any context within which to put it. I talk about the journey on how I got from there to here. The photo to the right has one line from it.

When you submit an article, you agree that the magazine owns it for publication, so I encourage you to go get a copy of N or order it online when it becomes available on their site. It will be issue 38.3.  I am a member of TNS and the biggest perk I get are the intelligent and interesting articles found in the quarterly magazine, especially when my local alternative bookstore stopped carrying it.

Another great article is a review of this sociological piece from Res Publica, which argues in favor of making public nudity a right for all people. I plan to dive into the actual article itself, but if the 18 pages seem daunting to you, the 2-page review will hold your attention. Lastly, Will Forest, aka “The Nude Scribe,” has a great article about the nudist traditions of Brazil.

I don’t get out to clubs or to the regional gatherings at this point in time, but for me N is well worth the price of membership and I’m glad I joined a few years back after toying with the thought for a while. Grab a copy and enjoy.

Trees and Gardens

Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 9.56.22 PMWhen I was a kid, Arbor Day held much more sway than Earth Day. We used to receive trees and have a small ceremony at school that honored the trees. But now, Arbor Day is an after thought and it is with great regret that even I missed mentioning it last week.

Trees are very special to all of humanity and indeed to naturists. While we humans use our intellect to trick ourselves into thinking we’re the be-all, end-all of beings, being among the trees can be humbling if we’re willing to be aware. My forays into nature, as a naturist, always puts me in awe of what is around me, because I become part of the natural landscape, not someone pushing conquest and dominance.

If you’re interested in the intersection of trees and naturism, I highly recommend you check out the Tree Spirit Project.

fullsizeoutput_b772On the heels of Earth and Arbor Days, today was World Naked Gardening Day. It’s cold in Vermont the first Saturday in May. Several years ago, WNGD took place in summer. Why it was moved to May is beyond me, but with a month of frost danger remaining, there’s very little gardening we do in these northern climes.

A couple years ago, I hung out with my garlic patch on an oddly warm first Saturday in May, but otherwise, WNGD is just not something I’ve been able to celebrate as intended. Watering a plant inside just doesn’t have the same feel to it, especially since that can be done at any time.

I hope you were able to enjoy WNGD. And if you were outside breathing deeply in nature, don’t forget to thank a tree.

This Earth Day

Though I’m not a fan of labeling myself, I always break out the term “naturist” on Earth Day. Nature’s right in there. And when I can be, I’m in nature.

And while I am heavily political in everyday life (waaaaay far to the left), I try not to bring too much of my politics here, because those of us in the clothing optional world need to come together as allies to our cause and not let our other beliefs get in the way of our cameraderie.

But for me, the climate crisis is not a political issue. It is a moral one and it is an emergency. To me, it is the number one issue facing humanity that we need to all weigh in on and solve, because while we might not see the brunt of it, the next generation certainly will. We can’t bicker about what has a 97% sceintific consensus. The climate crisis is acting up in our lives right now – from species die-off, flooding, superstorms, droughts, lost coast line, fires, higher temperatures.

I’m not going to debate the merits of individual proposals, because I don’t care how we get to mitigating the level of crisis we will experience. I just want to get there somehow. And for those of us who value our time in nature and who value experiencing it in our most natural form, I think we might be more keenly aware than most about what is being lost.

The best estimates don’t give us much time to get our acts together. So, let’s respect Mother Earth and remember that it’s not about saving the planet. Too much other garbage goes on, but we can work to preserve survivability for the upcoming generations and ensure that they might be able to pursue some semblance of happiness the way we’ve tried to in our lives.