About a year ago, I decided to augment this blog about naturist travel – which consists of things I have written about experiences I have had – with a second blog called The Discerning Nudist, dedicated to posting articles that are thoughtfully written, but mainly appear in the mainstream media, hoping that doing so will contribute to the over-arching ideal that naked is normal. Requisite of such a project is the arduous process of searching the web for material about naturism that one might actually call “thoughtful,” let alone effective in giving the reader some concept as to what naturism is actually about.
As it happens, naturism, or nakation as it is often called these days, has been quite frequently in the news as of late, both in mainstream US publications, and any number of newspapers and periodicals abroad. What’s striking, however, is how the sensibilities of social nudity are portrayed in North America compared to that of Europe.
Consider, for example, this excerpt from a British newspaper, The Telegraph, speaking to the recent boom in naturist activities in France…
Some explain the popularity of nudism by an increasing desire to feel liberated from societal norms and the constraints of urban life. Sylvain Villaret, a historian, said: “The practice of naturism is linked with periods of great upheavals. Nowadays people are looking for meaning and many turn to causes like responsible consumption, environmental protection or social solidarity, especially the young. The values of militant naturism are in accord with with these causes.”
France embraces the nudist lifestyle with yoga, restaurants and galleries (The Telegraph, July 22, 2018)
Strangely enough, I have always held the perception that the British had the corner of the market on prudery, but even recent changes in law enforcement have reduced public nudity to a nuisance offense at most, and it seems more and more Brits are opting for clothes-free vacations at home and abroad. But then again, I’m not sure they have quite the same enticements one might find in an NBC news-feed…
Last night was crazy. Not in the Las Vegas sense of over-imbibing and forgetting where your hotel room is kind of crazy, but the kind where you go to a toga foam party and everyone ends up naked in a sea of glorious, sudsy, wild debauchery. And that was only the first night I spent at Jamaica’s Hedonism II, a clothing-optional resort situated against the sparkling blue Caribbean Sea.
“Many, many people have at least unconsciously some sexual inhibitions, and they may long to feel less conflicted and more uninhibited,” she says. “Having an entity — like a resort — that other people endorse and subscribe to and gives permission to be extremely uninhibited (and in fact, for our society, unusually permissive), helps these people to feel excited and free in a way they normally cannot.”
Why Travel’s latest trend – the nakation – is gaining momentum (nbcnews.com, July 21, 2018)
Excuse me? The nakation is gaining momentum? Which element of nakation? The toga foam party element or the permission to be extremely uninhibited element?
But wait, let’s try a different source. Say, Forbes Magazine; a publication dedicated to leading business practices that had two features about nude travel in their July publications. Let’s start with the article about “cruising as the sexy way to travel.”
Like Bliss Cruise, Desire Cruise, whose parent company is called Original Group, is more than just a clothing optional experience for older travelers for whom curiosity is burning a hole in their bucket list. The cruises they host offer top notch dining and beverages, spa services, a clothing optional pool and erotic themed nights. According to their website, Desire Cruise invites couples to take their relationship “to the next level.” This, of course, does not refer to a higher deck on the ship.
Nude Cruising is the Sexy Way to Travel (Forbes Magazine, July 30, 2018)
In fairness, that article talked about several nude cruise options, and that quoted clearly was at the extreme, but then again, if you lead out with the words “nude” and “sexy” in the title, it’s pretty clear where you’re headed.
For another perspective, a female author wrote a quick guide to naturist resorts where she identified the benchmark destination as Hedonism II in Jamaica, a place that has found their marketing niche in helping people leave their inhibitions and their clothing behind.
Considered the granddaddy of clothing-optional resorts, Hedonism II in Negril, Jamaica, has been catering to open-minded travelers since 1976. Guests have the option of staying on the “nude” or “prude” side.
Nude and Clothing-Optional ‘Nakations’ are on the Rise (Forbes Magazine, July 12, 2018)
Considered the granddaddy of clothing optional resorts? WOW! Grandpa’s really got it goin’ on!
Under the banner of interesting timing, Nick and Lins of Naked Wanderings just published a very interesting blog post called, Can a Nudist Feel Comfortable in a Sensual Resort? They make a very compelling argument for the live and let live perspective, which I largely agree with – beginning to end. In fact, I have no desire to get into the weeds about the underlying values or morality of one resort versus another, or what people are looking for when they get naked (or not) with their friends. And to reinforce what Nick and Lins have found, the only time we have found ourselves in a awkward position of an unsolicited advance was at a place that was considered by most to be the epitome of holistic naturism.
This is not a matter of whether there should be different strokes for different folks, but more accurately, the inability of the media, and I daresay, most Americans, to discern that there is a difference between a naturist place and a sexual playground! People in France know what to expect when they go to Cap d’Agde, and how a vacation at a family naturist center like Belezy or La Jenny will have a completely different ambiance. But how do you explain that to your next door neighbor on Main Street, USA when even the headline news tells you that social nudity is about foam toga parties, lingerie dances, and embracing open minded ideals. What does that mean, exactly… “open minded?”
I don’t know that I actually fault the American media for broadcasting such a bizarrely mixed message (Or maybe it isn’t mixed at all!) about naturism. It seems that every journalist’s first call is to the AANR (the American Association for Nude Recreation) which has had its own share of problems drawing the line regarding what defines acceptable behavior at a nudist place, starting with the pudding toss, and sliding off the edge about the time the lingerie dance begins. And I have made the case in several other posts that when you’re dealing with a limited demographic, it’s essentially impossible to be all things to all people without pissing most of the people off at one time or another. To that end, it’s not the media circus that’s driving perception, but the paranoia and Puritan ideals of your average soccer mom that is driving the media. How on earth does one stop that vicious cycle?
Twenty years ago, when we first started taking our children to French naturist resorts, I had hoped that one day in our lifetime, the barriers and prejudices related to social nudity in America would go the way of so many civil rights issues. But alas, I fear we live in an age where we have never been so deeply divided by our social, religious, and moral beliefs, which has created nothing less than a feeding frenzy for the press. Why would one think it would be anything less when it comes to a flashpoint topic like social nudity.
It’s quite a conundrum. One American writer states, “‘Nakations’ – or naked vacations, are on the rise and the nude and clothing-optional travel industry is booming.” Part of me is really happy to hear that! Maybe the numbers will grow to a point to where the naturism tourist industry can multiply and divide? But in the meantime, it looks like I either need to book a another plane ticket for Europe, or if I’m staying in my homeland, I’d better allow time to pick up some sexy underwear on the way to the airport.
It may be that by pushing a term like “nudist” we are setting ourselves apart from society. Anytime you do that, someone else can appropriate the term for whatever fantasies they conjure up.
Another problem is that “naturist” photos tend to be young and beautiful. This is marketing by clubs and cruises and such to draw people who either want to see (or think of themselves as being) the young and beautiful. Associating yourself with attractive models works for just about every commercial product from autos to booze to casinos. But doing this also implies sexual opportunity. To a significant portion of the population, it implies that people are only nudists to look at all the hot babes and dudes with nothing on.
If you really want to catch the spirit of naturism, they should at least make the photos representative. Let’s look at the photos in this post. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe they are all publicity photos from various naturist entities.
The top photo is an attractive woman. Next photo is a bunch of random guys but the composition immediately draws your eyes to the lovely blonde in the foreground. Then we have a very attractive couple looking a bit amorous. The photo of the people doing squats is quite reasonable but next, we have a skimpy bikini top dangling off a foot. Nice photo but the obvious intent is to be sexually provocative. And we finish with a beautiful young blonde woman in a sensual pose.
So that is 5 photos of which one shows average nudies. All the others suggest naked attractive women (one is an attractive couple) are what “naturism” is all about. I’d like to say that organized naturism is its own worst enemy but that isn’t true. They are free range naturism’s worst enemy.
Thank you Fred. Commentary like yours is the very best part of being a blogger. I so wish there was more of this sort of banter, and a lot less white noise about erections and pubic hair. Maybe people would take the entire movement more seriously if there was.
I should mention that EACH of the five photos were lifted FROM the articles quoted. The second and fourth photos are from the European article, the others all from American press sources. And there’s a direct correlation with the way European destination websites present naturists as well – still with “attractive people,” but almost never the sexual undertones that appear in so many of the American counterparts. On this continent, we simply can get past the sexuality of it all, even more ironic when you get to the place in France and many of the people look like those in the picture. In the US, not so much. LOL
Thank you for your comments and thoughtful analysis. And for following the blog! 🙂
The only people who are stopping nudists from sharing images that accurately represent nudism are nudists themselves. Allow cameras into the resorts, let people see what these places are really like, and that will go a long way to clearing up this confusion about “what’s really going on” at these nudist resorts. Otherwise, the only people interested in photographing naked people are going to be the ones with pressing motivations to make those images look unrealistically good – either for advertising purposes, or because their intentions aren’t purely nudist.
Not going to happen because nudism here is lived in the closet.
Here are a few articles you might like:
This is great. I will bookmark every one of this! (Would you like to be my co-author?) 🙂
Sure… Collaborations can be good.
People just can’t stop linking nudity with an attempt to have a good sexy time. Recently there was a “nude day” at Howe Caverns in New York State, which could have been a really good way to present non-sexual nudity as something positive–a group of human bodies together, and fun for everyone–but the management couldn’t resist making it adults-only and enlivening it with sexual innuendos. A local newspaper said “Along the way, Howe Caverns staffers in bathrobes held up thought-provoking and humorous signs to ease any tensions. Things like, “Happiness isn’t size specific,” and “A wee bit nipply.” ([The manager] told me the event was initially going to be called “Nips and Nubs,” but that was dropped because of the sexual connotations).” Finally, everyone got handed a medal saying “You’re a sexy beast! Howe Caverns Naked in the Cave 2018.”
That’s from https://www.newyorkupstate.com/expo/news/erry-2018/07/1ab4de65643098/i-went-naked-in-a-cave-at-howe.html
Thanks for posting this John. An excellent illustration of my point, and the immediate assumption that such an event is going to have sexual overtones. Seems that’s just pretty much the way the American psyche is hardwired these days.
I had a thought while reading this.
While I definitely emphasize nudism as a family friendly lifestyle, I also understand people as sexual animals.
While the distinction needs to be made, and I feel clubs geared toward sexy encounters can damage the ideals nudism is trying to maintain, I want to equate this side of life to other recreations.
Best example, amusement parks. You wouldn’t take a 5 year old to Six Flags, because it’s geared for an older crowd. And you wouldn’t go to Legoland with your college friends.
Thanks for your comment George – and most excellent analogy. I TOTALLY agree with you, but what bamboozles me time and again is that in the public media perception, there IS no Legoland for naturism in the US! It ALL has a sexual overtone to it. And again, I’m not even taking issue with places that are marketing to that angle, but simply that it’s very difficult to make a case for family naturism in America when everything the average person encounters makes it about spicing up your sex life. (See the above comment about the Cave event)
Well, one has to admit that genuine nudism is just… boring. At least to the newspapers. They don’t really care about what their writings may cause to our lifestyle and whether what they are writing is actually completely true (or researched). They need views, they need content that attracts an audience and sex does that just a little bit more than a bunch of naked people playing volleyball.
One of the main reasons why we picked the Desire resorts for our “experiment” (pun intended) instead of let’s say Hedonism was because Desire is very clear about what they stand for. They don’t hide behind the terms “nudism” or “naturism”.
Our experiences with being approached by swingers are similar to yours: they happened at naturist places. Often affiliated with a federation.
We believe that the strategy of the federations, like AANR, is completely wrong here. They pretend that swingers resorts don’t exist while they often close an eye if some swinging happens at one of their resorts. “The resort suffers so much to gain new members…”. They should name what’s out there and be strict about what they represent. And not only in words. But that’s another discussion.
By the way, you’ll probably also enjoy our latest post about how genuine nudist resorts can be successful 😉
America has some work to do on this subject. Which is why I have turned toward Ton Dou. He is using influence to reach out by using a public place. I was at his Ultimate Freedom Concert in NYC for his year 2. He had the right idea. I think us nudist need to help give him a boost to help influence the rest of America. Which is why I putting together the Nudist Revolution. In which I hope to revolutionize nudism in today’s world run my dead men’s ideology. Don’t give up. The world will one day see the positive light of this lifestyle.