[Reblogged from when I first started my WordPress site. I’ll be reposting a few of those early posts for new readers that I’ve picked up along the way.}

So… your blog talks about Europe, the Caribbean, Africa… and even naturism in Asia?  What about getting naked in America?

Well, we’ve tried that.  With passion and diligence.

And in fact, sometimes we still practice naturism in America, be that at a nearby nudist club, Palm Springs, or if we’re feeling particularly adventurous, a nude beach in California or on the Jersey Shore.  In fact, my last major internet endeavor involved a web site dedicated to family naturism in America.  At the time, our children were typical adolescents; quite willing to participate in naturism when we went to Europe, but pretty much put off by the entire idea anywhere else in the New World.

All that said, I’ve come up with a fairly concise list of why it’s better (and easier) to get naked in Europe than on this continent – listed here in no particular order:

  • The Puritanical Legacy!  Damn those Puritans!  Made all that much worse by the Victorian Age which brought us crazy inventions like the girdle and petticoats.  Who, exactly, sat down and decided that it would be good for humanity to obscure every contour and curve of the female body, while at the same time, creating the ultimate phallic symbol known today as the – necktie?  We have yet to recover from this fashion disaster, despite the fact that in today’s marketplace, strategically clothed is WAY more alluring than naked.
  • The ever-expanding mythology that Jesus spit upon the feet of the naked sinner.  (Ooo… may lose a few readers on that one!)  Right from the story of Adam and Eve, we are taught that figs leaves are for concealing the body parts – at first thought to be among the most beautiful works of all creation, but now denigrated to reside amidst attitudes of shame and guilt.  So many social norms have been attributed to New and Old Testament writings, even by those who have abandoned the tenants of religiosity, but yet, have held closely to the ethical values seemingly derived from such ideologies. In any event, a lot has happened in the last 2000 years, and generally speaking, European society has evolved a bit more quickly on the sociology front.  In most cases, encountering a naked person on the European beach does not elicit the same emotions of embarrassment or disgust, even amongst those who choose to remain clothed  
  • Europeans LOVE to go on holiday, and their social infrastructure allows them enough time to do so!  Go to a French naturist resort and stay less than two weeks, and the girl working at the reception desk will cock her head and politely say, “Leaving so soon?  Why would you drive six hours from Paris for only a few days of relaxation?”  This is completely in-congruent with the American idea of ‘higher, bigger, faster.’
  • American ‘nudists’ have a tendency toward weirdness.  (Oops – there goes the OTHER three people who read my blog!)  By that, I mean, we’ll lie by the pool all day and have casual conversation about the genuine qualities of being naked in public, blah, blah, blah… but then the sun goes down and everyone shows up in crazy lingerie outfits for the ‘grown-ups party.’  Compare that to a typical evening at a European resort, where indeed, people go adorn themselves in stylish European clothing, sit down for a nice meal with an aromatic Bordeaux, then dance the night away – grandparents with their grandchildren, adolescents with one another regardless of gender, in many cases three or four generations of a single family – hanging out together and creating another memory for the scrapbook.  We have yet to find anything close to this – naturist or otherwise – on this side of the Atlantic.
  • Seems redundant, given the previous bullet point, but it’s nice to see a demographic similar to that of, oh, say… Disney World, at most naturist establishments in Europe.  I will muse a bit later about how Europe is absorbing some of the negative Puritanical influences of the US in a subsequent post, but even with that in the mix, I don’t feel like I’m stepping outside the boundaries of social acceptance for the privilege of going au naturel abroad.
  • I’ll eventually get around to airing my laundry about the infamous Jerry Sandusky case; that most amazing dude from Penn State who made even the most liberal and easing-going parents shudder with fear and paranoia.  Thanks Jerry.  (And the other people in your court who apparently never gave a thought to “ACTION = CONSEQUENCE!”)  Now ANYone in ANY capacity involved with children under the age of 18 is held in contempt of being ‘one step away from being a sexual predator.’  Heaven forbid that you find out that the aide in the second grade classroom went to a nude beach last Sunday!  This person was naked, and now is with my child?  Paranoia and naturism are NOT likely to strike up a courtship any time soon. 
  • There are SO many choices!  I suspect that France, alone, has well over 100 ‘naturist resorts’ where you can rent a fully equipped apartment or chalet.  And that many twice again if you’re willing to pitch a tent.  Then there are the spas in Germany and the Netherlands, the mega-resorts in former Yugoslavia, and now, the new niche market for naturists in Greece (let alone innumerable beaches where nudity is tolerated).  Put those statistics up against David Sedaris’ unflattering account of his visit to a American nudist colony, and you start to get a sense of the disparity.  David Sedaris: NAKED
  • Finally, Europeans are not afraid of sensuality!  Be that the privilege of feeling the breeze and the warmth of the sun on body parts typically deprived of such, or simply sweating it out in a 90 degrees Celsius sauna.  Europeans put a very high value on the quality of life, be that good wine, aromatic cheese, or simply the privilege to swim naked.

The list could go on and on… but suffice it to say, we essentially dismissed our personal vendetta of normalizing family naturism in America.  Life got too busy and the task was too daunting.  

The American naturist family

And indeed, there are a few very excellent places to get naked in America, and in time, I think I’ll try to document a few of those ventures as well.  But when you consider the whole deal… the food, the wine, the quality of light during summer on the Mediterranean  and Adriatic Seas, and then you throw in the European concept of conviviality, we have concluded that it is simply worth getting on the airplane and getting it right.  

Life is short, and from everything I’ve read, the life hereafter requires long flowing white robes!  THAT’S no fun!

10 thoughts

  1. Reblogged this on The Meandering Naturist and commented:

    I have a lot of new readers since I first started my blog. I’m not typically into “reblogging,” and it seems particularly awkward to reblog myself, but I think a couple of these early posts will give a bit more insight to the nature of my blog for readers who have signed on more recently.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. While there is no doubt that naturism/nudism in Europe is far more advanced and accepted than in the US, we feel that your (obvious) lack of experience in American nudism prejudices your remarks.

    That fact that you even mention ‘Palm Springs’ as a nudist/naturist destination is a good indicator of that. And your club descriptions makes us wonder where you visited since this is by far not normal American social nudist behavior. Some high-end place in Florida, Palm Springs, or California?

    Just a guess, but your other postings about visits to European clubs/resorts shows a strong tendency towards fancy places, not small mom and pop operations of the type which represent American social nudism most accurately. Would that be accurate?

    Much as we envy your huge and wonderful places in France and other places, we don’t have them and few can afford to hop over the ocean for a weekend!

    Picture a well behaved small Textile family campground, remove the clothes, and you have mainstream American social nudism; just like anywhere else in the world!

    We love your articles and share them often, but we have to speak out when we see misrepresentations such as this presented to folks who take it as fact. There’s already enough misunderstandings within our community without inadvertently creating more!

    1. Fair enough. I appreciate your candor about my blog and your advocacy for American social nudism.

      And your assessment is accurate in that I have under-represented the “small mom and pop operations” that you are referring to, and God knows, I don’t want to incur damage to the cause by the implication of omission. And, in fact, we have visited many, many “less fancy” places in the US, mainly in California and in the northeast. We first discovered naturism as a young married couple, (now 30+ years ago) and we were eager to share those values with our children, but we didn’t have the financial resources to do the kind of travel we do now, nor could we afford to stay in a boutique hotel in Palm Springs.

      In fact, my first venture in creating a naturist presence on the internet involved a website aimed at connecting American naturist families, hoping that we would find a place and/or a community where our young children would/could enjoy the naturist experience as much as we did. While we meet a few great people through the website, the recurring outcome of our naturist explorations often required a two or three hour drive to visit a place with adequate facilities (eg, a campground or simple cabin), but once there, we would rarely find other families with children there, and thus our own children felt very much out of place. Many of these places had strict policies that would require us to “become members” after the second or third visit, which often came with a hefty annual fee that simply wasn’t possible for us at that time.

      We have visited at least two or three dozen such places over the years, attended several music festivals, and have visited (recently) well known naturist beaches on both the east and west coasts. Our children are grown now, and are naturist friendly, (happy to come with us to a naturist place and participate but are not active naturists on their own accord). I have heard about places, particularly those in the Midwest, that have been successful in maintaining that “campground without clothes” environment, and I would say that has largely been our experience with the places we have visited, except for the demographics, which has been less than enticing to our young adult children and their peers – who seem to me should be our target audience for the future of naturism. You may notice that I frequently give a shout out to Felicity Jones and Jordan Blum and the YNA organization they have started, along with others (the early work of Corky and INA comes to mind) who have worked so tirelessly to bring naturism into the American mainstream. I wish those groups had been around when we were in that age bracket.

      I hope I don’t sound defensive. Your points are valid and well taken, and I appreciate you advocating for my blog and all your site does for promoting nudism in its many variations. I am particularly eager to support those mom and pop teams who have stayed in the game and have a loyal clientele. DeAnza Springs near San Diego and Berkshire Vista in Massachusetts are two places where we’ve had particularly positive experiences, but each are roughly the equivalent of an international flight from our home.

      All that said, it seems to me that many naturist places in the US continue to perpetuate these misrepresentations and misunderstandings on their own, with humorous signage (eg “Bare Right” or “Skinny Dip Ahead”) and advertising campaigns that make many naturist destinations sound let altruistic than they actually are. My intention in blogging is to facilitate thoughtful discussion about naturism in an effort to encourage social acceptance, not alienation. I appreciate you taking the time to challenge my perceptions. I simply wish there were more platforms on the web where people engage in meaningful discourse about the realities of naturism in America and abroad.

      Thanks for listening.

  3. Really interesting post (that I just came across). There are certainly different attitudes towards nudity in Europe and the US. I’ve found that nudity in general is approached with so much more of a carefree attitude in Europe. While locations and cultures certainly vary, the general view seems to be live and let live.