It happened again today!
Right in the middle of a spiffy new broadcast called The New Nudist Podcast, where host Scott Klein was talking to the ultimate naked podcaster Stéphane Deschânes (from The Naturist Living Show) about whether “the naked lifestyle” is better represented by the word nudist, or naturist. That is not this blog post! Instead, today’s rant is going after the word “lifestyle.”
Even Nick and Lins, the world’s ultimate nudists, used the word (“lifestyle”) three times in a recent landmark article on Prostasia – an organization dedicated to calling out child abuse – about nudity and children. That’s innocuous enough as they were trying to explain that clothes-free living is, indeed, a particular lifestyle adopted by many, acknowledging that such a lifestyle is not inherently harmful to children.
But here’s the problem. Every time I hear that word, I think back to that time we were at a little hotel in France where we had failed to read all the reviews regarding the “Libertine tendencies” therein. (Libertine is the French word for Swinger) I stood, sleepless, outside at the railing late one night, gazing at the stars when a random dude appeared out of nowhere and led out with, [Insert French accent here] “You are here with your wife? You are into the Lifestyle?”
“Mais non!! Je ne sais pas! Mais non, monsieur!” We are not here to make friends with benefits, especially of the sexual variety!
All this to say that if my wife and I were new to the social nudity phenomenon in 2020, and we had to sort out just what that phenomenon is all about, and exactly what we hope we might experience there, the word “lifestyle” would be particularly problematic. Most of us who’ve been around social nudity for a while immediately associate that term with swingers – people who choose to go to places where they will meet other couples and singles who wish to exchange partners. Seasoned naturists will also recognize the word “lifestyle” in various adverts for luxury cruises and resorts that have found a marketing angle under the guise of nudism. So how on earth do you know what you’re signing up for? Even the intended marketing target is confusing; sometimes it’s about naked and sometimes it’s about sex.
I recently published a blog post that identified several naturist places in the eastern United States that we hope to visit this summer, one of which elicited a lengthy email from a reader who described the weekend parties at a particular resort. He went on to tell about the subsequent retribution toward clients from the owner for those who post negative reviews about the “nudist values” of the place on platforms like TripAdvisor and Yelp. It seems a review that states “If you’re simply looking for nude recreation, you might want to steer clear of the lingerie party on Saturday night” will get you banned from the grounds for life. Isn’t that just calling it like it is? Isn’t that something potential guests would want to know?
Let me be clear. This is not intended to be a statement about those who have found joy and fulfillment in the exploration of multiple sexual partners. In fact, I am well aware of recent trends amongst poly-amorous millennials who are quite open about the simply reality that monogamy is not for them. Really, I take no issue with that. I suspect at one level or another, that has been a topic of conversation in every communicative relationship since the beginning of time, and humans make decisions regarding the rules of the game pertaining to each individual relationship.
BUT… How is a newbie naturist to know what they are actually signing up for when they decide to take the leap and make that first visit to “Happy Acres Nudist Resort” on the very weekend that turns out to be BEER-PONG-A-PALOOZA? Is that simply an event for naked people sponsored by Coors-Light, or a prelude to getting the locals loosened up for the imminent meet-and-greet-and-whatever in the pool?
So how do you tell if you’re getting yourself into “the lifestyle,” or “The Lifestyle.” (And no, I don’t think capitalization or punctuation will provide the necessary cues.)
Here are a few things we’ve deduced over the years that might save you the trouble of learning by experience:
- I recently rejoined AANR, which seeks to promote non-sexual, family oriented nude recreation. Things were rough a few years back when they were holding on to associations with places that were known to be frequented by swingers and people looking for sexually oriented stimulation. (Again… not passing judgement on those seeking sexual exploration, but simply calling out the fact that “the sex thing” makes the whole conversation very complicated in promoting the case for non-sexual social nudity.) My sense is that AANR has gotten better about recalling membership status at venues where the boundaries are blurred, though I’d be interested in hearing from readers if that stacks up.
- TripAdvisor tells all, but you can’t always rely on the numbers! One person’s weekend of ecstasy is the next person’s disaster. If you’re going to put it all out there in baring your nakedness, it’s well worth taking the time to read the reviews, including a few carefully worded web searches that are likely to lead you to blogs and personal reviews that you might not find on the mainstream channels. We all know that thorough research leads to better travel experiences – naked or not!
- Watch out for those Top Ten lists in mainstream media. If I read one more article in the New York Times or Condé Nast that places Cap d’Agde at the top of the Best Places to Get Naked list, my brain is going to melt! (See: SEX ON THE BEACH: Why a Newbie Naturist should NOT Visit Cap d’Agde) To say that US media has a distorted perception of the naturist ideal would be a gross understatement, and these lists are typically poorly researched by reporters who don’t even know what they’re looking for. More often than not, such articles in mainstream publications are looking for click bait, relying heavily on the perception that social nudity is a form of sexual deviance. Strangely enough, in 2020, I don’t even know what that might mean, but the press is certainly not going to help sort that out.
- Word of mouth is always the best advice. Find someone who’s been there, and ask them straight out if you (and your partner) are likely to find what you’re looking for. The thing about nude recreation is that the first experience will, more often than not, determine whether there will be a second or third experience. With resources like Google, reddit, and innumerable blogs, there is more out there than ever to help a curious naturist to get it right the first time – the time that it counts the most
So how do you tell if the word lifestyle is referring to people who wish to live life without the impediment of textiles, or whether they are seeking expansion of their sexual network? Given our +/- 35 years experience with social nudity, I would say it’s impossible to tell unless you really do your homework. There’s something out there for everyone, regardless of what they’re looking for. Most advocates of naturism want to promote social nudity in whatever way people want to experience that, hoping you’ll love it so much that you’ll tell your friends and become a lifelong naturist. Just don’t let one nebulous word put you on the wrong path to the lifestyle you are seeking!
Images in this post are from archives collected over the years, largely from www.clothesfree.com. If you find an unauthorized image here that should be removed, please let me know and I will do so immediately.