I started this blog nearly two years ago – the third venture of trying to contribute to the efforts of those who seek to create a positive naturist spin on the world wide web. If you found my blog, you are probably well aware of the wide variety of webpages floating in cyberspace that fall a bit short of promoting family naturist ideals. And some of those hosted by “genuine naturists” (a label that invites controversy at best, I know!) run long on stories about coming out to naturism, but frequently run a bit shallow in providing resources that go beyond the ubiquitous questions and strategies for dealing with male arousal and those pesky rules about always carrying a towel.
One of my previous internet endeavors was focused on creating a network where naturist families could find one another; maybe even arrange a meet-up at a local naturist venue so our kids would know that naturism in America really is a normal, everyday kind of thing. That was a huge project, and a friend and I developed quite an involved screening process in an effort to identify people who were really looking for what we had on offer. But alas, the project produced at least anecdotal evidence that, in fact, naturism is not a normal everyday thing in the US. Sure, there are a few clubs scattered around the county that seem to have a nice family vibe going, but we were seeking something that felt like the family naturism scene we had experienced in Europe. That forum still exists today, (NFN) but after a couple years of getting up early each morning to screen a wide array of peculiar inquiries and sketchy applications, I passed the keys to naturist friends who had a bit more time and patience than I.
But I’m evading the topic implied in the title of this very post – the preponderance of butts on my blog!
As the days are getting longer, and I’m spending more time each week dreaming about where our next naked adventure might be, I’ve become nostalgic about all the places we’ve been. We – my wife and I – have been fortunate to share the love of travel, and have had enough resources over the years to bounce around the globe a good bit. After cruising through a few websites about places to get naked in Greece, or Hawaii, or Brazil, I suddenly felt the urge to change over the screen saver to our naturist travel folder. A chronicle that has become hugely symbolic in our married life as our shared passion for adventure without tan lines has, in many ways, defines our relationship.
If you’ve spent time on my blog, you have probably perused a few of our photo galleries, or read some of our location reports with photos that may well suggest that we’re camera shy when it comes to frontal nudity. But alas, that’s not really the case. Naturist photography has been a great hobby, and we will continue to document the realities of aging, if only for use on this blog – at least until Microsoft invents butt recognition software! Needless to say, we have been reticent to publish any photo that would provide positive ID to an acquaintance who might stumble into our site.
Before I go on, it’s worth noting that most of our family and friends know about our naturist tendencies, and our children – now adults – have been and continue to be willing participants. And, in fact, I tried for some time to rationalize that the hang up with frontal nudity (or for that matter, the very idea of naturism itself), was simply an American condition, founded in the mores of our prudish forefathers who arrived swaddled in Victorian clothing on the Mayflower.
The irony of all this is that the internet has created a resource for promoting naturism that would have been unimaginable 25 years ago when we were trying to find a naturist resort in France. But ironically enough, it has also become a cornerstone in the demise of naturism for those who fear retribution for their desires to bare all before God and high tech cell phones! One false move, and you’re tagged on social media, where anyone with a lack of understanding of the naturist phenomenon, let alone someone with vindictive tendencies, and you’re out there on a skewer; the subject of conjecture and accusation of deviant behavior. Walking naked on the beach? Is that really deviant behavior?
But(t) back to my point. About a year ago, I posed the question on a well moderated website dedicated to British naturism. Something to the effect of, “If you have a position of employment with a high public profile, how forthcoming are you about your naturist tendencies?” I was taken aback by the responses. While a few hardliners said, “If you don’t own up to it and come out full frontal – at least in a metaphorical sort of way – you’re doing naturism a disservice.”
But many more weighed in with a sense of gravitas, stating documented examples of those who have stepped forward to be counted amongst the naked and the proud, only to suffer serious repercussions, in some cases involving severe complications related to matters of employment.
Personally, we (my wife and I) believe there is nothing more beautiful, or real, than the human form. Apparently the artists and sculptors in Renaissance Italy felt much the same way, before the days of adulation of protruding pelvic bones and neatly defined abs. But until your photograph can be tagged by the curvature of your gluteus maximus, we will limit our web exposure to the past tense – the person who just walked by.
Would it be too punny to say, What a bummer!
Great post thanks for sharing
Reblogged this on clothes free life.
Thanks for your timely thoughts. We made the decision that our gavatar would clearly define who and what we say we are.
Actually, I was hoping this post might spawn some lively debate.
I very much admire your decision to “clearly define who and what [you] say [you] are.” I think that should be a basic tenet of the value system of naturism itself.
The fact remains, however, that there are many who would like to be similarly forthright, but the implications of such a decision could greatly compromise one’s standing in professional circles, especially if those circles intersect with education and/or public service. In such cases, it’s not so much a matter of owning up to one’s own personal identity and life choices, but instead, walking into the storm of misconception and intolerance.
What a complicated age we live in.
We clearly understand about the implications. Several of our friends too from education/public service along with other social and business acquaintances have expressed the desire to go to our resort with us but fear reprisals, although we think at times that hand is very much overplayed !! We have made a point to tell most of our family, friends and many business associates of our lifestyle choice. We openly answer any questions they have and always make it clear that we are not swingers. What few friendships we may have lost, we have more than made up for through our resort friends.
I very much appreciate this post, puns included! I happen to work in one of those sensitive areas mentioned. That paired with being a young woman new to all of this and several other factors, I’m also thinking a lot about how I share, where I share it, with whom I share it. Still learning those ropes and figuring things out.
As I sit here thinking, I feel like caution has actually given me the opportunity to create some really, really deep experiences with people in my physical environment and family. Very, very few know about my clothes free life; I could count them on one hand. My choice to be careful about how I post, where, what… has actually created an interesting pressure. It’s kind of like a steam pot of something, all of this energy building underneath the surface where I was dying to tell someone about it. But I took my time choosing in whom to confide, and I took conversations very slowly over the course of months (well, that’s about the length of my clothes free life so far anyway…still just months).
This created something beautiful where, finally, I opened up to my mom about it. Again, this was something I chose carefully and inched my way into over time. But what it led to was, in fact, today a moment where she said she wants to go with me to a clothing optional place when I visit her next week. My journey had inspired her to deal with decades of body issues, and she wanted to step out of that by taking this opportunity with me, which will also be my first time out publicly. I was over the moon.
All that to say, this is the reason I haven’t agreed with the hard core folks who say, “you have to be full frontal and all this to be true to the cause.” Everyone has a different situation, and repercussions are nothing to sneeze at. I very much support and respect a careful approach to sharing, especially since the internet is actually full of crazy. And, in addition to the points you mentioned, for me the careful approach has actually created a deep and meaningful ongoing conversation with my mom. She didn’t need me to be full frontal and all out there on the web to be inspired by my journey to face her own body issues. She was inspired by my words and the passion behind them when I shared with her the freedom and healing I’ve been experiencing. That’s what mattered to her, not a picture of me on the internet.
Thanks for your thoughtful response to my post. These are complicated matters, indeed. Quite touching to hear the story of you connecting with your mom while working through this process. 🙂
I actually do work in one of those truly ‘sensitive areas’. In fact every few years I fill in phone book sized forms on the where, what and how of our lives. Yes I include these details as well. That said it didn’t stop Kim and I from appearing on national television to discuss nude cruising. I guess these things depend heavily on the culture of the country you live in. Suffice to say the television appearance managed to make sure that those who didn’t know our ‘secret’, of which there was a few more than we thought, got the full picture so to speak.
Like you we are also careful as to what hits the public domain as once it’s there you lose control of the image. Though I’m wondering if this article is in response to questions from readers as to your photo choices because personally I don’t think you need to explain or apologise for anything.
From my point you have produced a truly valuable resource which shows “what it’s like” rather than rehashing the same old ‘nudist etiquette’ lists, as is the case on so many sites. I discovered it while researching for a European trip next month and it has been quite helpful.
As to the images being ‘Butt Shots’ I think it’s a plus actually. Firstly we don’t know you so what you look like is immaterial to us. That you’ve been there and done that is. The nature of the images leaves no doubt as to the fact that the person is in a nude venue but they seem to focus more on the place than the person. This is helpful for those considering ‘giving it a try’ as the images are less confronting and more informative about the place or activity which I think helps to move the though process away from being nude and towards the entire experience. Making the decision to go easier to reach.
If you’re interested the interview we did, and other stuff is here: http://vk2us.id.au/published
Pete and Kim.
I figure it’s a choice. Support the lifestyle at personal risk, or protect yourself at the potential cost of your lifestyle. Ultimately it’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves, and I respect each person’s choice, because we all have extenuating circumstances. But I am one of those who believes that if you don’t own up to it, you are doing the lifestyle a disservice. We have to stick together, and show the world who we are. So that when they disparage naturists, and pass laws against us, they realize they’re doing it to people they know and love and (hopefully) respect. Maybe you’re not in a position to stand up and put your name and face to the cause right now, but I’ll gladly stand in your place until you are. And if I’m not the perfect representative of nudism (I support a lot of things, some of which may clash with nudism from a traditional perspective), feel free to add yourself to the roster to balance me out.
I really appreciate your candid comments on this, (and the other post, too). In fact, I really appreciate that you took the time to read my blog. I often write simply as catharsis for myself. Really exciting when I find someone is actually reading along.
I totally get your point, and have heard that expressed many times before, though not always as articulately as you have done. And, in fact, I totally agree with you!
I had to go back and read that post again to remember what I had said. I wrote this about the time the Jerry Sandusky case was making it’s way through the courts – the PSU coach who was convicted of abusing children in his care in a various sports camps and summer programs.
As it happens, there is a significant part of my job that involves working with minors, though never in a situation like Sandusky’s with access to locker rooms and such. But all the same, when the Sandusky case broke, all hell broke loose as well with a barrage of new regulations for ANYone who has any contact with ANY person under 18 years of age.
I’m not typically a paranoid person, but I’m also worldly enough to know that facial recognition software could easily out my naturist doings, leaving my fate to a jury of squeamish parents who assume every adult to be a predator first, a human… maybe.
All that said, I STILL agree with you. How do we normalize simple nudity without actually doing more harm to the cause than good. I appreciate your work as a surrogate on my behalf – and more importantly, for all the rest of us who feel the consequences are too dire. I take faith in your sense of optimism, that in time, people will come to their senses about the real and present danger of exposed skin.
Those sound like pretty extenuating circumstances, and I certainly can’t fault you for your decision. I guess I can be idealistic at times, but I see so much to get frustrated about when I look at the world around me, I have to be optimistic or how could I keep going? Anyway, I think we’re at an exciting point in history, with technology advancing the way it is. I guess a lot of people are afraid of change (and I totally understand that), but I’m also a little bit thrilled that the rules of the game are changing. Things that have seemed to be impossible in the past, may turn out to be possible in the future. As a photographer, I resent the paranoia so many people have about cameras, even as surveillance becomes an increasingly unavoidable fact of life. Personally, I have some pretty unconventional views on privacy – perhaps what’s needed more than resistance is a new way of looking at things, where people are held responsible for what they do with the information they have. The more people whose drunk pics turn up on Facebook, the more we have to accept that this is human nature, and the less that information can be used as blackmail. I don’t personally condone outrageous party behavior, but looking back through history (I’ve read Kinsey’s original studies cover to cover), a similar case can be made for our sexual behaviors. As a culture, we’ve spent a lot of time denying and shaming activities that most of us participate in behind closed doors. Perhaps it’s time to fess up; lay it on the table, and acknowledge that it’s an essential, and not even necessarily undignified, aspect of life.
Of course, I could also be giving Homo sapiens more credit than it deserves. I consider myself a transhumanist, so I hold people up to a higher standard than they are typically able to meet, if we’re talking statistics and averages. But I don’t know how I could live any other way. I understand the public’s fears and revulsion to nudity, but I also recognize its fundamental importance in life, and the health benefits of not feeding a neurotic taboo. The laws and cultural attitudes alike are remiss in securing some of the basic civil liberties that we *should* be able to take for granted in what is supposed to be a “free country”. A person’s lifestyle choices that cannot scientifically be demonstrated to harm anyone – and especially when there is evidence of potential physical and/or psychological benefit – is nobody’s business but their own, no matter what anybody else “feels” about it. And I think that, in general, that’s the direction society is currently headed (notwithstanding the occasional conservative backlash). In the meantime, all I can do is be the best example that I can, and not hide who I am from the world. I don’t have the patience to sit around and wait for the world to change just to live my life freely and peacefully, in the pursuit of happiness as it means to me.
Oh wow! I’m really into this kind of thoughtful debate – but sadly it’s Monday morning and I’m buried in a textile world. But I WILL get back to you. Would love to milk this thread out a good bit. 🙂