Naturism on Social Media

At the new year, I chose to shut down my naturist-specific Twitter account. Day-to-day, I was blocking about a dozen or so accounts that were pornographic or exhibitionist in nature. Quite simply, I did not need a part-time job of eliminating content on social media. It was sad, because I had built a bit of community on Twitter, but a really good move for me overall.

When I’d get tired of it, sometimes I would post something along the lines of “Nudism is not porn.” I don’t know if spelling out p-o-r-n was setting off an algorithm, but coincidentally there would be an influx of savory accounts. There is also an attempt, it seems, to redefine what it means to be nudist/naturist that relies on creating backlash for those of us who emphasize the nonsexual aspects of the movement.

The logic seems to go that sex is normal and natural so nudists who emphasize nonsexual nakedness are denying part of humanity. In fact, we are not, or I don’t think we are. You see, in the 80 years that nudism has part of an organized effort here in the United States, our unclothed bodies have been attached to the anti-nudity hysteria that assumes all nakedness is sexual. Those who claim to be nudists on their pages and then when you click on them to see if they’re worth following and a scroll past the first usually innocuous post is of his erection or her showering (or their likes are smattering with sexual videos), they are doing harm by contributing to the conflation of nudity and sex, which is forever the main reason we remain discriminated against as a community.

Nudity can involve sex, but not always. Nudism and naturism are not about sex or exhibitionism. If you’re an exhibitionist, go for it! But don’t use the language and naming of our movement to hide your situation or trick people into viewing what you choose for sexual enjoyment. When you conflate the two, you are setting our efforts toward equal treatment under the law back. It’s not that nudists don’t enjoy sex; it’s that the movement is not about sex.

So, I chose to leave my naturist Twitter account behind. I hemmed and hawed a bit, but an influx of accounts I had to vet for way too long finally set me free.

In the Quiet of the Season

IMG_3975The winter solstice returns the light, but is the darkest day of the year. For me and the people I love, this invites quiet and introspection. We reduce our interactive technology for a few days and take part in the festivity of togetherness. So, here’s the opportunity to wish you all a happy new year. I’ll leave the puns our community loves so much to someone else.

This time of year, I find myself settling in with books, but here are some online articles that spoke to me this year:

  • Being a Naturist Isn’t Sexual at Exposed Happiness (Link)
  • Wear Clothes? Then You’re Part of the Problem at New York Times (Link)
  • Should LGBTQ Add an ‘N’? at Nude Movement (Link)
  • Science says to get naked (abridged title) at The Mirror (Link)
  • Why Are Nudists Such Friendly People? at Naked Wanderings (Link)

Let’s show fellow writers who are adding to the rich literature of our community some love and support.

My wish for you for 2020 is peace. My wish for the world is an awakening to action on climate change.

Cheers! See you in January.

What Do We Owe Each Other?

IMG_2658.JPGWhen I was coming to terms with myself as a nudist (because, of course, society puts so much emphasis on the “evils” of the human body), a person from a lifelong nudist family helped me figure out how to own my identity and way of being.

To this day I’ve never met him or spoken with him, but we communicated online. He was related to someone who worked for one of the major naturist organizations in the U.S., so I knew I could trust him. He didn’t owe me any outreach, but I think he saw someone who wanted to embrace his full self and felt he, as someone much more confident in this world, could offer the support and advice I needed. It helped immensely.

Via this blog, sometimes folks reach out to me. Recently someone who identifies as a nudist/naturist, but without any context in their regular life, reached out to me for similar advice and discussion. We’ve never met, of course, and the mode of communication is easier and more immediate than in the early-2000s. I was thinking about how bewildered I was two decades ago with nowhere to turn and it was never a question to me that I’d be available to them.

This is the second person I’ve been open with this year. The first is an old friend who I’ve only seen online who was intrigued when I discussed nudism and who is now committed to attending their local resort for a weeklong summer vacation. I believe our way of living and our attitudes about the human body are valuable to perpetuate. And my experience is that our community is one of the kindest and most welcoming.

In some ways, we do owe newbies who feel overwhelmed a safe place to ask questions as they initiate this adventure. We also owe our way of being, our movement perhaps, an openness to ensure its perpetuation. There’s certainly a perception, whether real or imagined, that nudism could be waning.

By showing openness to beginners, especially in this era where people long for connection but aren’t necessarily joiners, we all can ensure our community flourishes one person at a time.

Gym Showers

Recently, I joined a gym. And as with the previous times in my 20-odd years of adulthood when I’ve held memberships, I’m basically the youngest to use the showers. Thing is, I’m no longer 20 years younger, so hygiene seems to be ending with the generation ahead of me. I’m just a straggler.

Some ultra-sweaty folks come into the locker room, throw pants on over their gym clothes, maybe change a shirt, and head out. I hope they aren’t heading back to work or anywhere in public. It’s pretty gross.

Whatever the fear or shame is that keeps people from maintaining sanitary practices is a real shame. But so far, I’m one of the few non-gray-haired people who changes, showers, and re-dresses like it’s no big deal. And really, it’s no big deal.

My guess is the hypersexualization of nudity is the culprit. Whatever it is, I’d hate to be sharing an elevator with these people after their workouts.

Body Image Rollercoaster

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 5.05.25 PM“Boy am I out of shape!”

That’s what I thought when I looked at this photograph after it was taken. And it’s true, I haven’t been diligent in recent years at getting exercise. As the rigors of life have taken over my schedule, I’ve found myself with less time to tend my own garden, and so I’ve let some things go.

At the same time, I’m not that out of shape. In fact, I’ve been running 3-5 miles per run for several months now. This could very well be the body of an athlete, albeit one who has gained a few pounds since starting to run again.

I run because I love it and this body completes the routes I set for it. I’m slower than I was half a lifetime ago, but I enjoy every minute of it. I no longer run out of hatred for my body, out of a desire to reduce my weight drastically because I have disordered thinking about my body. In fact, I run because I love my body and all the trials it has helped me to survive up until now.

And yet, when I saw that photo, my first thought was to take it down, to hide it, and to not bring out another photo until I had worked myself back into the shape seen in older photos I have.

I didn’t. And I guess that’s saying something.

A nudist friend and I were conversing about body image and we came to some conclusions: We agree that all bodies are beautiful and have value. We accept all bodies as they are. We believe that no person should have to change to fit a standard.

And we find it extremely hard to apply this standard to ourselves.

For ourselves, it is judgment galore. It is less for me than it was when I was weighing myself up to 20 times a day, when I was 30 pounds lighter but felt hopelessly “fat,” when I ran 90 miles a week chasing an impossible physique. But still, when I see what I view as an imperfection in myself, I recoil a bit.

Re-embracing nudism has saved me from the darker impulses of poor body image. It has even brought me toward greater body acceptance in myself and others. I could judge others as ruthlessly as I did myself, because I was looped into the images projected on screens, on billboards, and in magazines. I was a victim of that messaging and made others the victim of my thoughts. As I forgave myself, I was able to see the beauty in others. For myself, sometimes I see the beauty through tinted glasses.

When I look at old photos of myself, I am never as hideous as I thought I was when the photo was taken. And I try to remind myself of that now. That I’m fine just the way I am. That if I want to get in “better shape,” I had best due it out of love of self, not hatred for how I think I look. And that in ten years, I’m probably going to wonder why I was so harsh on myself.

I’m tired of living for tomorrow when I look at the present, rather than viewing the present through a lens honest appraisal. I guess the photo is not so bad, even though I want to be in better shape for better health.

I didn’t take the photo down. And that counts for something.

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