NAKED AND AFRAID: In a time of international crisis

I’ve just returned from a small naturist resort in Thailand where I had planned to hide out for a week to enjoy a bit of naked solitude while digging my way through a huge work project. (Watch for a future post about Harmony Naturist Resort… Coming soon!) The best laid plans were first undermined when my naturist sequester was overridden by the need to tend to all-things-crisis back home as my workplace fell victim to the omnipresent Coronavirus quarantine. In fact, were it not for the sudden pandemonium that followed the President’s announcement about closing all international borders this past Friday night, I would just now be on my way home. Now, it seems that getting on an airplane to go anywhere is a bleak prospect for the foreseeable future, let alone acknowledging the fact that social nudity typically implies that you’re going to be nude… in a social setting. Probably not the best idea when “social distancing” is about all we are hearing from every direction at the moment.

Naked in Thailand

Nick and Lins (Naked Wanderings) published a helpful blog post about a week ago (Will the Corona Virus Ruin You Nude Vacation?) in an effort to help dispel some the hysteria about this, now proclaimed, pandemic virus. They explain a bit about the virus itself, how to practice good hygiene, and perhaps most importantly, pointed out the fragile state of naturist tourism. It’s a good read and a rational perspective, I think.

God knows, I’m most certainly not a health care professional, so the following prose is not to imply anything more than a cautious dose of common sense. But I can imagine that people who haven’t really thought things through might say, “How could I even think about getting naked in a time when every person I see is a suspected Coronavirus carrier?” As we are being pummeled with messaging from every possible angle, while schools, churches, sports arenas, and even restaurants are closing down, it stands to reason that being near another human is dangerous enough – but near another naked human? Do you simply have a death wish?

Naked in France

As personal hygiene is a relentless topic in all discussions related to naturism, (“Don’t forget to sit on a towel!”) it seems worth noting that most matters related to hygiene and cleanliness for naturists have to do with bacterial issues – not viral infections. And for that matter, at least in the places we frequent, we have found naturists to be more conscientious about cleanliness and personal hygiene than your average human at a typical tourist attraction or public venue. I know, it’s counter intuitive. But just think about the German spa culture where swimsuits are forbidden mainly because they collect bacteria that is not easily rinsed away in the shower. And hot tub owners know that it’s much easier to keep the water balanced if you can keep textiles out of your spa. Humans wash easily. Clothing, not so much! Again, as Nick and Lins pointed out, if a fully clothed human sneezes three feet away from you, it won’t make much difference whether you’re clothed or not, unless you have your head wrapped in gauze that’s certified to be impenetrable by airborne microorganisms.

Naked in Brazil

But all that aside, as one who loves and lives to travel, I’ve been watching day by day as the hospitality industry is struggling for survival with increasing desperation from one hour to the next! My favorite argument regarding the global warming debacle (which, for the record, concerns me a great deal,) has always been the unintended consequences if you grounded even half of the scheduled flights around the world in the altruistic effort to slow down Co2 emissions, as doing so would not only decrease anticipated revenues to all those airlines, but to all the support industries as well. Hotels, restaurants, airline catering and cleaning operations, let alone all other things tourism and transportation. We got a taste of that after 9-11 when air-traffic was brought to a halt for a week or so, mainly for flights in and around the US. But now it seems apparent that this crisis is not going to end any time soon, which actually brings me to my point within the context of this naturist blog.

Aside from a few of the huge naturism centers in France and Croatia, most places catering to naturists are small boutique operations. Those of us who follow such things have been celebrating the rapid growth of naked tourism in Thailand, with three naturist resorts on Phuket, and five more scattered about the country from Chiang Mai in the north to the newest establishment near the border of Malaysia. (We had planned to visit Barefeet Heaven Hill next month, but now it appears we won’t be able to leave the United States, let alone get back home at the end of our journey!)

Naked in Hawaii

And it certainly doesn’t help that social nudity is about… SOCIAL… nudity. There are so many blogs and online discussions about whether a home nudist is really practicing social nudity, or whether they’re simply in a state of nakedness at home. At this writing, the directives are becoming more restrictive every day as to exactly what constitutes a crowd, along with best practices for enjoying your friends and loved ones at the distance of six feet or greater. This is not good news for any part of the tourism industry, but especially gloomy for naturist tourism as in most places, the season is short to begin with, and the remoteness of such places requires a willingness to travel a good distance to get there.

I have a clear recollection of those days following 9-11, when people were scared to death to get on an airplane even though calculating the odds of a Las Vegas card game bore out that you had a greater chance of getting struck by lightning than falling victim to an airborne terrorist attack. And yet, planes flew empty for months. And I also remember my most progressive friends posting on those pre-Facebook era online forums: “The best way to fight terrorism and boost the economy is to get on an airplane and take a vacation!”

Of course, this is different. Nobody really knows what it will take to contain the Coronavirus, whether it will subside as the weather warms up, or for that matter, whether anyone will be able to afford to take a vacation this summer as the ripple effect of the economic fallout is just starting to rear its ugly head.

Naked in St. Maarten

But in the name of advocating for the future of social nudity, and all the establishments that make that possible, I encourage my fellow (and would be) naturists to remain optimistic about the potential of summer travel, knowing that many naturist places simply don’t have the wherewithal to withstand more than a month or two of low occupancy. And most airlines are currently advertising ridiculously low fares with incredibly lenient cancellation policies. Thought you could never afford that nakation in France because it’s simply too expensive to get there? This might actually turn out to be your chance of a lifetime. (I saw round-trip mid-summer fares to Amsterdam this morning for less than $400!) And if it’s still untenable to fly by late spring, start looking into places that are within driving distance, seeking out naturist places that don’t require that you pass through an airport. While not impossible, it seems unlikely we’ll still be obsessing with social distancing three months from now, but by then, many of the places for social nudity may be long gone in the throes of bankruptcy.

By the way, my wife just read a Twitter post that includes a long list of “things to do to keep yourself healthy” during this crisis. (Attributed to Rupa Mayra.) One of those was get more sun on your bare skin to increase Vitamin D.

Now THAT sounds like a healthcare plan I can really get my bare buns behind!

The Joys of Living Naked

About two weeks ago, there was an article in the New York Times called The Joys of Cooking Naked that literally set the naturist community all a Twitter as links flooded social media and messaging feeds. As best as I can tell, confirmed naturists mostly applauded the “positive PR,” while comments from the textile community drew upon the tired canon of nudist puns, “I simply don’t think I could bare to dine naked!” … Ugh.

With permission from IG @amis_natturisttes

I posed the question on my own Twitter feed as to whether a media splash like this actually helps or hurts the naturist cause, as I, personally, was quite disappointed in this particular article. The New York Times has recently published a few very thoughtful pieces in recent months. (See A Once in a Lifetime Dilemma or The Naked Truth About Germans). But in this case, I found myself wondering what the author was driving for: A history of nudism in America? An advert for a nudist resort/retirement community in Florida? Or perhaps just an admonition to would-be nudists to beware of the evils of splattering bacon grease! Isn’t that common sense, whether naked or not?

I had wished, instead, that the reporter might have taken a different tack, broadening the topic a bit to something like… the The Joys of Living Naked. And for that matter, was it really necessary to get on a plane and visit a nudist resort in Florida to find a person who cooks, eats, or lives naked? I know there are several progressive young naturists living in and around New York City who embrace the clothing-optional lifestyle, but not just on vacation or in retirement, but on a typical Sunday morning when the apartment is warm enough to be naked at home, even in December, and clothing is simply an option that isn’t necessary. How about an article on Window Treatments for the Discreet Naturist, or Talking to Your Neighbors about Casual Nudity. I suspect there are any number of city dwellers across the country who could really benefit from those articles.

I don’t wish to downgrade the seemingly growing trend amidst the general public as related to the tolerance of social nudity, and would even go as far as to celebrate that fact that a major U.S. newspaper published a photo of a fully nude woman – from the backside – working in the kitchen. Apparently, we’ve all finally agreed that the nation’s children will not be harmed by the  incidental sighting of unadorned buttocks. (News flash! Everyone has a pair!)

But I think naturism will really turn the corner in America when we can speak freely about one’s neighbor who has a penchant for being be naked at home, just doing normal things on the day-to-day basis, without the urge to make some goofy pun, or quietly wonder if you’re living next to some kind of sexual deviant. Which takes me full circle – Does an article like this help or hurt that cause?

With permission from IG @moreschicarina

One curious element of all this is the evolution and self-perception of naturist places in the United States that are, at least inadvertently, self-deprecating if not outright ridiculing themselves. In this particular article, the author mentions the resort restaurant (where the research for said article had taken place) – the Bare Buns Café, and adjoining bar, the Butt Hutt! While all under the guise of fun and laughter, (“Hey Naturist Dan! Lighten up a little!“) American nudist places simply can’t seem to resist nomenclature, sign-posts, and newsletter headlines that actually perpetuate the idea that “You naked people are all a little crazy!” or at the very least, you’re hopelessly addicted to second tier dad jokes. (I’m a dad. I love dad jokes. But in this case, doesn’t this kind of thing make us naked people all look a bit silly?) I don’t think I fully recognized the subversive impact of all that until visiting naturist places in Europe, especially in France and Croatia, where you would never find that kind of word play.

Truth be told, if the social media (e.g. Twitter and Instagram) confessions of many a closeted naturist have any validity, it seems that The Joys of Living Naked is probably embraced by hundreds of thousands of people who would never think of dining at a place called the Bare Buns Café, but routinely find ways to avoid getting dressed in the morning until the last possible moment before stepping out into the “real world.” That has certainly been my strategy, and I most definitely do not live in a warm place, and we most definitely have neighbors. To that end, I thought I might offer a few tips on how to realize to joys of living naked, whether you’re into cooking or not.

A GUIDE TO THE JOYS OF LIVING NAKED

  • TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS: Obviously, this depends on whether your neighbors reside through the 14th floor window in the adjacent apartment building, or just across the fence. But if you’re making an effort to be discrete, chances are good they might be more chill than you expect. The neighbors on each side of our home know about our naked tendencies, (Especially mine!) but neither seem to have an issue with it, even though the teenage daughter on one side once let herself into our backyard – unannounced – to tell us her family was leaving on vacation, only to find me reading naked on the porch. The moment was a bit awkward, but the residual effect was null.
  • BE AN ADVOCATE: Seasoned naturists find ways to work potential nudity into the conversation to test the waters as to anticipated reactions. Try “Come over any time, but you’d better call first in case I need to put clothes on!”… and see how they react. You might be surprised when they respond with, “Yup. We know that about you.”
  • UNDERSTAND YOUR WINDOWS: My wife is more likely to get naked on “nakation” than she is around the house. (It’s simply not pragmatic to bother with throwing something on to empty the recycling bin.) But I finally got her to do the “window test” a few years ago to demonstrate just what people can and cannot see when looking in from the outside. The tint of the glass, the angle of the sun, and simply the sight-line from the ground to the window often makes it impossible to see whether a person is naked or not, especially during the daytime. And there are a myriad of window treatments that react differently to light. Some let the light in while making it impossible to see in from the outside. Talk to your friends at Home Depot to figure that out.
  • LANDSCAPING AND SIGHT-LINES: A clever rhododendron here, and a leafy lilac there, can help with those windows that provide outside exposure below the neck. And fast-growing plants like privet hedges, forsythia, or Leland Cypress can create a better barrier than any fence in just a year or two.  
  • THE WOOD BURNING STOVE: We have a house with vinyl siding in the northeast US that was never warm in the winter – at least certainly never warm enough for naked. Our wood-burning stove changed all that, making our family room (and adjoining office space) naturist friendly 365 days a year. A real wood burning stove may be more trouble and expense than you want, but there are a lot of second-bests these days, some of which run on pellets, gas, propane, or even electricity for no trouble or mess. But the intense heat source in your living space makes wearing clothes unnecessary at least; maybe even a bother. Almost as good as direct sunlight on your bare skin!
  • PAREO or SAUNA TOWEL: The ubiquitous pareo (or sarong) is the go-to cover up for many a beachgoer, but an absolute necessity for the confirmed naturist. A single piece of cloth that can cover the controversial body parts in a matter of seconds, which is particularly useful for women who, in most places, are required to conceal their breasts. For men, a quick Google search will lead you to the sauna towel with Velcro binding common in European spas, so you can move from awkward to appropriate in a matter of seconds. Pareos work for guys too. All a matter of preference and choice.
  • DISPLAY NUDE ARTWORK: We’ve become increasingly brazen with decor that reveals small hints that we’re less than offended by nudity. Maybe a simple line drawing? A fridge magnet, or a simple wooden sign that admonishes: “Life is Short. Run Naked.” All good conversation starters when inviting friends over for dinner or cocktails. You never know when you’re going to run into another closet naturist.
  • NAKED GOURMET DINING: The author of the NYT article claims “the nudist movement has historically been connected to food.” I thought that was a particularly peculiar statement that attempted to draw a connection between the health obsessive virtues of the nudist pioneers a hundred years back, and the “astonishing” truth that people at today’s nudist resorts still… eat. (But they’re very careful when frying bacon!) I would counter that with a story of two couples we met years ago at Club Orient in St. Maarten. They happened to be from our greater metropolitan area. Though it requires a bit of travel, we get together at least a couple times a year for naturist gourmet nights, sometimes on the patio, sometimes by the fire – season dependent. Here again, if I were a reporter in New York City, I’m guessing a bit of digging would have led me to one of the groups that stage evenings like that on a regular basis. One such group is Just Naked NYC that is leading the way in helping would-be naturists find one another and even planning events like these. My hunch is this trend will continue to grow in cities across the nation.
  • AND WHAT ABOUT THE WNBR? The World Naked Bike Ride events that are popping up all over, well… the world! I’ve not had an opportunity to participate in one of these events yet, but as the numbers are growing steadily all over the planet, it seems that would be an excellent place to meet other people who might be open to the idea of “living naked.” Personally, it’s on my bucket list for 2020. Wanna meet people who embrace social nudity? Go hang out with them for a day.
With permission from IG @naturistsmarumba

To the point… While I’m always delighted to see ANY positive reference to social nudity in the mainstream media, I think the author of The Joys of Cooking Naked overshot the assignment, and in doing so, sort of missed the point altogether. Naturism is not just for retired people living in Florida nudists resort! And in fact, I suspect there are people living naked within blocks of the author’s apartment. But perhaps most presciently, there’s a good bit of evidence that a good number of Millennials are ready to doff their clothes, turn up the heat, live naked in the suburbs, and take the appropriate precautions when cooking bacon.

With permission from IG @simonnaturist

As a recent guest on the Naturist Living Show recently stated, we’ll know we’re making progress on this front when people react to naturism the same way they react to skydiving. “Would never care to do that myself, but I have a quiet admiration for those who find that exhilarating.”

THAT… would be a good article in the New York Times.

Naked With My Therapist

The meandering naturist stops to ponder…

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere as of late. In fact, my last post dates back to early September, before life became a bit overwhelming, and blogging about nakations seemed a little less urgent than everyday life.

Among other challenges, this has been a time of loss with the passing of relatives and friends – some timely and expected, others less so. All that, along with having to face up to a pretty strong dose of dissolution in the workplace, has made for an intense period of self-reflection. NEWS FLASH: Sometimes things just don’t go the way they should – or at least not the way you want them to! Turns out that’s not news at all. At least, not according to my therapist.

I’d never seen a therapist on a regular basis before, but this seemed like the right time. Turns out the old adage is true… The one that suggests that as people age, they simply become a decidedly more vivid caricature of themselves. I’m willing to own up to that, but not without a bit of discomfort along the way.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you probably know that I’m quite passionate about naturism. In fact, as it turns out, I’m pretty passionate about everything I do! It just so happens that naturism ended up near the very top of my life priority short list. Followers of this blog may have also read my various rants and raves about our – my wife and I – naturist journey and maybe even a few of my opinion pieces about social nudity such as The Demographics of Nakedness, the quirky unevenness of naturism in America, or a more recent piece about my own personal obsession with naturism. If you’re not up for digging back through my personal archives, I can summarize the entire story with one sentence: “My college girlfriend went to a nude beach as part of a class experiment, wrote a paper about it, piqued my interest, and I took up the cause with a fervor that most dudes in my age bracket have for football or golf.” Thirty-five years later, that girlfriend is my wife, and naturist exploration remains an integral part of our relationship.

For readers who have pursued therapy or counseling, I would love to see your comments about how you went about explaining naturism to your therapist. How did you roll out the topic? What parts were difficult to contextualize without feeling awkward or apologetic? And how did you gauge the raised eyebrows when you tried to explain the difference between social nudity and sexual deviance? Surely, any seasoned therapist has heard it all, but context (and empathy!) is absolutely critical when you’re trying to rationalize something that matters to you. I suspect the average therapist deals with all kinds of deviant behaviors – that’s part of their job. I simply can’t help but wonder if my therapist is sitting there indexing my meandering thoughts to that lecture in graduate school about “people who run around naked.” Ugh!

You’ve probably realized by now, the title of this post is misleading. I have not gotten naked with my therapist. At least, not in a literal sense of the phrase. Though my affinity for naturism has been a constant thread throughout our many discussions about how I perceive the world, and how I perceive the world’s perception of me. Not surprisingly, the naturist thing represents a multi-faceted existence for me, which has led to a few “ah-ha” moments alongside a few more, “Well, of course!” revelations along the way.

The most obvious part of my affinity for naturism is likely congruous with nearly every other naturist on the planet. I felt insecure about my body until I went to a nude beach and realized that essentially nobody is pleased with their God-given proportions. Funny that you have to go to a naked place to come to grips with that, but it’s the recurring theme in pretty much every interview following a person’s first experience with social nudity.

But here’s the one I’m still musing over when I drive home from my therapy appointments…

Is there a correlation between social nudity and one’s desire to be real? To be present? Or in the language in my generation, is nakedness a necessary part of the process of total self realization? (Cue the soundtrack from Aquarius here.)

Problem is that I’ve been a naturist long enough to know that there are all kinds of people who participate in all flavors of social nudity, each embracing a unique set of values, which all becomes very confusing when people try to make the argument that nudists/naturists are more forthright, genuine, or altruistic than those who hide behind a shield of garments. That argument simply doesn’t hold up. One’s ability to disrobe in public doth not a statistically valid personality assessment make.

But the part that keeps me in head scratching mode is my own affinity for nakedness, even if I’m home alone. I can’t figure out if it’s simply the counter-culture sense of it all, or the heightened sensory of so much exposed skin, or simply the fact that nakedness represents the extreme opposite aesthetic of my otherwise frenetic and public life.

I’m pretty sure that despite her requisite open-mindedness that fuels so many open-ended questions, my therapist still doesn’t know quite what to make of the naturism thing, or perhaps more presciently, hasn’t experienced it herself. How do you explain such a phenomenon to someone who’s never been there themselves? And how do you adequately explain the difference between a sexually charged atmosphere like Cap d’Adge (See my latest rant about that!) as compared to a place where naturism is as family friendly as Disneyland? (Let’s hear it for La Jenny and French family naturism.) To the uninitiated, I suspect the very notion of social nudity lies someplace between nudist camp jokes and the poorly researched top ten lists for naked places that appear each summer in USA Today – an exercise that routinely fails to convey that Cap d’Agde is nothing like Disneyland.

All that said, the most fascinating part of this process for me is how we arrive at our own personal perceptions that define each of our social norms. For those of us who have embraced naturism for some time, it’s all but impossible to grasp how or why anyone could, would, or should be anxious about seeing a woman breastfeed in public. How could that possibly be offensive to anyone? But here in 2019, to many, it most certainly is.

I put up an article a few days ago on my other nudist blog called “Nudity Increases in America.” It’s a repost of a piece first published in 1974 in the New York Times. It’s a thought-provoking read, if only to realize that while we live in an age where there is so much emphasis on accepting people for who they are, as they are, the adherence to social norms has become more polarizing than ever. Be it based on religious convictions, political ideology, or simply a fight to maintain one’s personal identity, I don’t think this decade will go down in history as the age of open-mindedness and acceptance.

My therapist suggests our preoccupation with all that may well be an exercise in futility. (And yes, I recognize the irony that I’m preoccupied with what she might be thinking about my involvement in naturism. An endless loop!) If anything, the Digital Age has resulted in a time when we are more concerned with how people perceive us than ever before in the history of mankind. Maybe that’s why I so value the freedom to go home at the end of the day, drop my clothing near the front door, and sit by the wood-stove wearing nothing but the glow of the fire. In my estimation, that’s about a good as life gets.

How strange that anyone would think something so simple and so real is anything other than genuinely human, innocent, and innocuous. Hard to believe that living in one’s own skin is actually controversial at all.

But indeed, that is simply the perception of a meandering naturist, and to be sure, one’s sense of perception defines the game.

Late Summer Nights with Naturist Friends: My Humble Attempt at Writing a How-To Guide

Following a busy summer of European Travel – a few weeks for business, then a few for vacation travel – it was pretty jarring to return home to the oppressively humid days of the northeastern USA where my administrative job awaited me with an insurmountable to-do list. The previous weeks had scarcely required me to bother with clothing at any time of the day as we found refuge at naturist resorts in the South of France and Catalonia. In that region, the summer air is warm and dry, sunny more often than not. At home, adorned in the requisite button-down shirt and dress shoes, each day vacillates between the sweltering heat of late August, countered by the abrasive gale force winds of office air conditioning systems. Regardless, in either situation, clothing seems a nuisance and a hindrance to regulating body temperature – all of which  routinely landed on the family room floor the minute I walked through the door at the end of each day. 

Fortunately, we have cultivated a naturist friendly refuge in our home located a few miles beyond the suburbs of the northeast corridor, and time has worked on our side with the careful addition of fast-growing hedges and shrubs that has resulted in what I affectionately call my “naturist man cave.” While it seems that most man caves are found in windowless basements featuring an overstuffed couch, a widescreen TV, and a fridge full of beer, mine looks quite different. Imagine a screened porch, a deck extending to the hot tub, and even a fire pit for the late summer nights when the chill starts to set in. After years in the making, it’s been a long time since I’ve needed to worry about clothing in my back yard. While our neighbors on each side are rarely inclined to wander into our backyard unannounced, they are all aware that doing so may well result in the sighting of a middle-aged guy sitting buck-naked with a glass of wine, reading his kindle on the porch. It’s happened once or twice, and guess what? Nobody much cared.

But the serendipity of the past year has been the increasing success rate of creating clothing-optional evenings with others who have been amazingly willing to bare all, when the conditions are right. At the urging of one such friend, I offer a few common-sensical thoughts about how you might facilitate a naked gathering in your home. Granted, it has taken us a while to put the necessary amenities in place, but for most of us hell-bent on the virtues of social nudity, it doesn’t hurt to work out a plan for the long game.

  • LANDSCAPING: Creative landscaping can do what fences never will. For us, that involves a robust barrier of forsythia on one side, a brawny forest of Leland Cypress on the other, and a strategic row of privet hedges which are now in excess of twelve feet (four meters) in height. Aesthetically, it creates a park-like environment, but pragmatically, someone has to work pretty hard to see a naked person in the backyard. 
  • THE HOT TUB: Hot tubs are tricky, and earlier ploys to invite people over with the express purpose of getting naked in the spa have been mostly met with blushing resistance and stuttering responses. (Seems that might have worked a bit better back in the swinging 70s. But we’re not interested in swingers, and the stigma of free love seems to have left an indelible legacy embedded in nude recreation.) BUT… Inviting friends to bring along swimsuits and towels on a chilly night, along with a bit of banter about our naturist travels, has resulted in a few surprises where we have actually under-estimated someone’s willingness to drop their towel and jump in. Unlike those who enforce a “strictly no swimsuits” rule, offering to wear one at first is often just exactly the option some people need to realize that clothing optional is actually the rule, thereby providing a choice to get naked. Think you can’t afford a hot tub, by the way? Check out home improvement stores or Craig’s List. Or watch for a moving sale. When people need to get rid of a spa, sometimes they’ll literally give it away.
  • THE SCREENED PORCH & PROPANE HEATER: A winning combination. The screened porch is not really inside (That feels weird to some people), but not really outside (Oh, that’s too exposed!). And the propane heater helps extend the season on both ends of summer. That and an ample supply of beach towels helps the newbie naturist feel more at ease as they’re figuring out the decorum of being naked around others. (If I’m wrapped in a towel, I’m not really dressed, but I’m not really naked. The gateway drug!) 
  • THE WOOD-BURNING STOVE: We made the investment several years ago to install a wood-burning stove in our family room in an effort to actually create a toasty living environment in our otherwise drafty, east-coast, vinyl siding house. I’ve been following a young couple from NYC that has been quite successful in connecting with other naturist-curious humans on social media while sponsoring a series of modest home-based naked gatherings. That all sounds good, but then suddenly not so much when the ambient temperature hovers around “annoyingly chilly.” By contrast, a glass of red wine in front of the wood burning stove is an enticement even when dressed. Couple that with a dash in from the hot tub on a snowy winter evening and you have your own little European spa. This is the stuff converts are made of!
  • Perhaps most importantly, you have to find a way to identify other would be naturist friends, which is always better if you’re already friends in the first place. (See The Demographics of Nakedness) Simply volunteer that you’re a nudist as a one-off at a cocktail party and you’re more likely than not to get an awkwardly blank stare as the conversation comes unraveled right in front of your eyes. But mention your summer trip to Florida, San Diego, or France with a quick aside that you have a thing for seeking out idyllic nude beaches, and you might pique just enough curiosity to entice someone into a chain of follow-up questions. “Really? You do that? Don’t know if I’d ever do that. How did you get into that?” In one such conversation of recent years, that thread led to the discovery that a professional colleague and her husband vacation at a naturist place (CHM Montalivet) just up the coast from our favorite naturist place (La Jenny) in France. Now they have become regular guests for naturist BBQ evenings on our back porch. You simply never know who’s out there, just waiting for a chance for a staycation-nakation.

The good news? While social nudity remains taboo for many, the very concept is becoming more and more common in the mainstream news. (See Things Are Getting Better for Naked People) To be sure, people are still confused about the sexuality piece of the whole equation, but as it happens, that’s precisely why I started this blog. Every time we – the collective naturist community – get another article or blog post out there about non-sexual social nudity, there is one more invaluable resource for the naked-curious out there that might help them figure the whole thing out. And thus… I’m hoping THIS blog will become a participatory exercise…


Have you been successful in introducing your friends to home naturism? COMMENT BELOW. This blog typically gets about 1500 hits a day. Share a good idea and you might even liberate a new naturist from the oppression of their restrictive clothing!

Talk to us, my naked friends!

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

Reflections on a Naturist Life: La Jenny, France 2019

After an absence of five years, we finally made it back to La Jenny this summer, the place I’ve often cited as the best naturist place in the world. [See previous post here] As it goes with the best of anything, such classifications are highly subjective, and even in this case, we’ve wavered a good bit on that assessment over the years, depending on the weather during our most recent visit. A rainy week at La Jenny doth not a fabulous nakation make.

You can read the long version of our naturist saga here, which highlights our first visit to La Jenny in 1997 as a pivotal event in our naked lives. That first time, we only stayed for four nights, but we were immediately smitten with the place, and with the concept of French family naturism in general. (Check out this recent post by Nick and Lins about family naturism in France. Compelling, at least!) We returned for two weeks in 1999 with our pre-adolescent kids, at which point it became a perennial project to figure out how we could manage the airline tickets for a family of five to get back for subsequent nakations. By this time, we had tried several naturist places in America with our children in tow, but they were quickly moving into the “This is really awkward and dumb” state of mind about going on vacation with parents, let alone taking your clothes off. La Jenny was an immediate game changer, and our summers there still live among our most cherished family memories – nudity notwithstanding.

We would return to La Jenny at least a dozen times over the ensuing years, sometimes with kids, then as they were out on their own, sometimes as a couple. In 2014, we even “coerced” some of our naturist friends from home to join us a weeklong visit, but alas, it was one of those iffy weather weeks which left the lasting impression, “This place would be perfect if the sun shone a bit more.” After that, summers got busy with other things to do and  places to be, and La Jenny fell off our travel itinerary… until this year.

La Jenny, 1999

Though our adult children don’t really consider themselves naturists, they don’t bat an eye at getting naked for a family vacation, especially if it turns out to be an all-inclusive sort of deal where they get room, board, and a free plane ticket. Two of the three took the bait this summer, so we found ourselves – naked – on the porch of our chalet near the La Jenny golf course, playing Uno into the wee hours of the morning again. It felt reminiscent to be back in this charming naturist village, sitting near the pool, watching an entirely new generation of naturist families, providing evidence – in the flesh – that family naturism is a booming business in France. 

As a blogger and avid advocate of family naturism, it has occurred to me on many occasion that our naturist travelogue probably seems someplace between irrelevant and unreachable to many a would-be American naturist. I suspect that many feel just like we did back in 1997, saddled with three small children and barely enough money to buy shoes and lunch makings for the coming school week. “Nakation in France? Never gonna happen.” [There’s a whole separate story that goes here about my friend David who taught me how to earn airline miles with a credit card, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now.] And I also remember the “Ah-Ha” moment when we realized that a short week in a Disney park carries roughly the same price tag as three weeks in Europe, if we could figure out how to get everybody from this continent to that one. 

La Jenny, 2003

But as I read so many blog posts, tweets, and reddit musings from frustrated husbands and fathers who simply can’t find a way to sell naturism to their spouses and families, I can’t help but think, “That’s because you simply can’t find a place in close proximity to where you live to replicate the everyday normal naturist experience in France… or Croatia…or Spain.” Family naturism will never feel normal when you’re in an environment where it simply isn’t… NORMAL!” Where the people you see at the pool and the beach and at the restaurant that evening are the same people you would encounter at Disneyland, or Six Flags, or even at the local grocery store or restaurant. 

La Jenny, 2005

I’ve ranted a good bit in these pages over the years about the “nudist colony” feel of naturist places in the US. Indeed, there are a few places in North America that have broken that boundary, but making a quick weekend jaunt to Toronto or Palm Springs may even be more cost prohibitive than going to Europe. And then there are the family naturism casualties in the US, like Caliente in Florida, which finally gave up on their business plan for family naturism when they realized that catering to those seeking a sexual adventure became a necessity for keeping the cash flow in the positive. Or Desert Sun (formerly Desert Shadows) in Palm Springs, which first opened as a family naturist destination, where many units sold under the banner of “my grandkids can come visit me here,” only later to have children banned from the premises altogether as the potential of aiding and abetting a child predator outweighed the prospects of attracting clients who would pay for a family nakation. We Americans like to think we’re really progressive, but when it comes to intergenerational nudity, we simply can’t seem to figure it out.

La Jenny, 2007

Like Nick and Lins say in their piece, the French have totally figured out the formula for making family nakation acceptable, even to those who would rather vacation with their clothes on. (Imagine that! Telling your friends you went with your family on naked vacation without worrying about getting reported to Child Protective Services!?) France has also learned to embrace mainstream and social media in a way that doesn’t just sexualize or poke fun at social nudity, but portrays it as a viable recreational option for everyday people who simply want to de-stress, snooze by the pool, and walk on the beach, then come home without tan lines. 

La Jenny 2013

So now it’s 2019. As I rode my bike (naked) down to the village for croissants and a baguette from the market (also naked), before spending the rest of the day (naked) with my wife, friends, and adult children, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic about that first visit to naturist France some 20+ years ago. I remember thinking, as we were in our thirties back then, “Why did it take us so long to discover this magical place? And how will I ever go on another vacation, anyplace, where clothing is required by the pool or on the beach? Why is that even a thing?”

So I guess that’s the point. Despite the best efforts of the most ardent proponents of social nudity in the US of A, it seems unlikely we’ll ever catch up with our European friends when it comes to creating a place where family naturism not only seems normal, but is in demand! Are there safe places to get naked with your family in the United States to enjoy social nudity with your family? A few, scattered across the country. Do any of them measure up, even to the mid grade places in France? Well… not from what we’ve seen, and we’ve been looking for a long time.

So if you’ve made it this far in these wandering musings from a meandering naturist, and you’re still living in the confines of naked and alone at home, I simply encourage you to find a cheap plane ticket, do a bit of careful research, then go get naked in France. It doesn’t have to be La Jenny; there are over 300 options in France alone. But if you get it right, you might end up wrecked… and naked… for life! 

So, What’s the Deal with My Obsession with Nudity? It’s a Thing!

I was in the car the other day with a naturist friend, Jennifer, debriefing about the whole naturist thing.

In fact, we were on the way to the airport as she had just spent a few days hanging out with us at La Jenny, (one France’s premier naturist resorts) it seemed like a good time to grill her for a few moments about her proclivity for doffing her clothes whenever given half a chance to do so. She mused quite a lot about naked time as having become “safe zone,” which is particularly notable in this case as up to a few years ago, the idea of getting naked with other humans in a non-sexual environment wasn’t even something that had crossed her mind! Now, I think she would go as far as to identify herself as a fervent naturist.

So, there’s no question that I’m the most fervent naturist in our immediate family, having spent years creating a naturist friendly environment behind our home with the strategic placement of hedges and other landscape features that protects our neighbors from unsolicited glimpses of sunbathing and naked wine-tasting on our back deck. My wife is a most willing co-conspirator when it comes to naked tubbing, and I think she would tell you that given the choice, she’d choose nakation over vacation if such can be accomplished without compromising the touristic elements of our travel itinerary. (One is hard pressed to find a naturist hotel or campground in Morocco, Turkey, or Singapore, the latter of which has such strict anti-nudity laws that you could get you arrested if spotted naked through the sheers of your hotel window!!) Of our three adult children, all are naturist friendly to varying extents, but I don’t think any of them would drive more than ten minutes out of the way to visit a naturist beach instead of the more convenient textile option next door. BUT I WOULD! And SO would Jen. 

I asked her in the car a few days ago, “Why do you think some humans are simply hard-wired as fervent naturists? Something in our DNA? Is it a philosophical disposition? A psychological crosswire that sets us apart from the rest of the human race who can’t bear that thought of going to bed with two layers of unnecessary clothing?”

She reflected for a bit, then alluded to a common friend we’ve discussed in the past who is big into Second Life, that cyber world where people live in an alternate reality that replicates all the elements of daily life, but interfaces through a computer generated world where your actual identity is completely detached from your day to day existence.

“Getting naked is sort of like that for me. A complete departure from my daily routine. Even the ability to get up in the morning and not worry about what I’m going to wear, how I’m going to accessorize, and just how I want the world to perceive me today is a real game changer.” Jennifer thought a bit more, “When I’m naked, I’m just me. Done.”

We mused a bit more on the topic about whether there’s a correlation between one’s penchant for nudity and the qualities of openness and vulnerability that same person exhibits in their everyday (clothed) lives. I am personally fond of that notion, but as I ran a quick inventory of people we’ve encountered at all the naturist places we’ve visited over the past thirty years, I had to challenge the premise on the grounds that I’ve met a lot of rude and jerky people who seemed neither open, nor genuine, let alone vulnerable – just naked.

“Yup,” I say, “I’d like to think that naturists simply see the world and interact differently with other humans, but in reality, well… I’m not sure that checks out. “

But back to the title of the blog post itself, I’ve never really fully figured out my own disposition that somehow results in a direct correlation to the stress levels of the day, and the subsequent desire to get naked at the end of that day. In that regard, I have to agree with Jen! Especially as I’ve developed an identity as a naturist blogger where I interact (mostly in cyber-space) with a whole community of humans that are neither involved or even interested in what I do for a living and whether or not I’m successful at it. And also like Jen, I find a distinct sense of relief in leaving my textile image at the door, and at least in my case, all the insecurities I have felt that day when my shirt doesn’t quite fit right, or the shoes didn’t coordinate with my pants. Strangely, despite age spots, weight gain, and a host of other typical hang-ups that most of us have about our own bodies, there’s something empowering about simply acknowledging, “This is the skin that I have, and I’m sticking with it. So there!”

When you stop to think about it, it’s a complicated phenomenon. We have friends that will get naked in the hot tub with us but would never consider a nakation. And others who seem intrigued by our naturist endeavors, but would never even consider going topless on a European beach, despite the fact that they may be more fit and “attractive,” – by 2019 cultural standards – than we are. For my wife, it’s really much more an issue of pragmatism. Naturist friends come over for dinner and it’s warm and not too buggy on the screened porch, so off come the clothes. But if she’s working around the house when a trip into the garage or onto the front porch might require a light cover-up, “Meh! It’s not worth the hassle. Better to just stay dressed.”

But I suspect that many of my readers are a lot like me… and like Jennifer. 

“Give me twenty-five minutes of time out of mainstream society, and I’m going to my safe place. Where I can leave my clothes, my identity, and at least someof my stress laying on the floor before I have to cover-up and face the harsh realities of the outside world again.”

We live in a world where appearance is a multi-million-dollar industry; in an age where a woman on the eastern Mediterranean could be arrested for exposing too much of her face. Yet at the same time, hundreds of naked Germans are frolicking in the altogether on a beach just a couple hundred miles across the seal. It makes you wonder how simple nudity became such a controversial subject, or even a subject at all?

And in the same breath, it makes me wonder why I’m so obsessed with the right and the desire to be naked, and even more so, why anyone else would care if I am.

But one thing I do know…. It’s a thing.

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

That Day I Got My Millennial Friends into Naturism!

Remember Addie? She’s our twenty-something friend who’s not only become a fervent naturist, but quite a prolific blogger as well. She’s particularly keen on what might make naturism more alluring to people in her own demographic, as she’s clearly found it to be most liberating and rejuvenating for herself. Having come to naturism just in recent years, I think she offers timely perspective to encourage others to follow in her (naked) footsteps…

[This post was published previously under the title of “The Joys of Sharing Naturism. “]

When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go” –Gina Greenlee 

One of my greatest joys in life stems from moments in which I am lucky enough to introduce others to places and experiences that I have found meaningful; I gain great pleasure from watching someone else experience something for the first time that means a lot to me. Certainly, I would qualify naturism as a defining feature of my life through from which I derive a great amount of joy. Therefore, it naturally follows that I very much enjoy experiencing someone else’s moment of astonishment as they realize, “Wow! I’m not wearing clothes in public and it’s awesome!” 

Certainly, I have not had the joy of experiencing this moment many times, as I’m fairly new to naturism, but witnessing someone experience naturism for the first time constitutes something very special for me, and I can’t wait to continue to share my love for naturism with others. 

In this blog post, I offer two vignettes about sharing in someone’s first moments with naturism, along with a list of tips for how a naturist can help someone navigate their first experience with non-sexual nudity.  

Vignette #1: Naked Breakfast: Northeastern US

As a young, single female in the Northeastern United States, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to get naked without establishing an expectation for sex. Therefore, when a situation arises to eat a potato hash with an over-easy egg in the nude with your neighbor, you obviously must take full advantage in the fully monty! 

My neighbor, Joe, and I had known each other for about sixth months when I traversed to Germany. After my return, he asked me about the happenings of the trip over happy hour oysters and wine. I described that relaxing without a swimsuit in the German spas bumped my trip from the “great” category into that of the “unbelievable.” Having never frequented a co-ed spa in the nude, he was initially surprised, but intrigued; he continued to casually follow up in subsequent conversations, asking questions like, “Have you been to naked beaches?” and “Why do you like it so much?” Through his line of questioning, he discovered that I not only have “skinny-dipped,” but I enjoy almost everything more without clothes, including sharing meals. He expressed an interest in trying it out, and eventually one morning, he proposed breakfast- not just a breakfast, but a naturist breakfast. 

            I was already wearing a bathrobe when he arrived at my apartment; I had set out two towels across the kitchen chairs so as to indicate, “this is where we will sit.” While puttering around cooking, my bathrobe came undone-no problem. He followed my lead, getting undressed in the living room, as I continued to cook in the kitchen, affording him a bit of privacy. For several moments, he talked quickly, trying to “cover up” his physical features I had not previously seen before. However, after a few minutes of cooking, all “first time” awkwardness seemed to have washed away, as he laughed about the new sensation of the oven fan blowing air against a body part that was rarely afforded the light of day! Slowly but surely, he became more outspoken for the cause, exclaiming about the serendipity and carefree nature of the moment more than once.

“You know, I’m a fan of over-easy eggs and potato hash in any context, but sharing it in the nude with a friend? It’s a no-brainer; it’s simply the best.” Seriously, what a good morning, filled with ample conversation of body positivity and lots of laughter. 

Vignette #2: Naked Island: South of France

As someone who frequents the south of France, I’ve visited Ile du Levant, an all-naked island, several times; I might even describe it as one of my top 10 favorite places in the world! This time, I took three newbies along for the ride! 

            This July, four friends and I had planned to visit Iles du Porquerolles, a group of three islands off of the southern coast of France. However, I quickly realized that they had an interest in the naturist island, Ile du Levant, when they started asking questions like, “Have you ever been?” and “Can you be naked everywhere?” Each of them wanted to know something different. One asked, “Do you have to be naked?” while another asked, “How beautiful and crowded are the beaches?” The third questioned, “How good is the food?” I answered each to the best of my ability, emphasizing that because it is not a resort, there are truly no Naked Police present on the island; I suspect that this provided an “out” to my friends who had decided to sign on for not just a few hours naked, but a whole day on an all-naked island.

            Upon arriving, I immediately shed my shirt, taking in the glory of the sun on my skin, and setting a precedent for my friends who followed behind. We hiked to a lovely cliff surrounded by crystal clear water, and the water gave each person the courage and the impetus to “dive right in,” both literally and figuratively. As soon as they hit the water, each person seemed to relax. One particularly funny moment consisted of a friend slipping and sliding while exiting the water, her bare butt bobbing up and down in the shallow water amidst her shrieks of desperation and laughter. After that moment, everything seemed to flow naturally; sometimes one person would slip on shorts or a cover-up, but as we passed several people on our walk and at lunch, some in the nude and some in various stages of dress, each person in the group seemed to understand that truly anything goes. 

            Over lunch and on the walk back to the port, I had a particularly poignant conversation with one of the girls, Kelly, who said that never in her life had she felt so comfortable with her body image at a beach/pool setting. We shared an excellent conversation about naturism, dating for naturists, and seeking out vacation spots specifically on account of their potential for naturism. She seemed almost immediately sold on the concept, citing this day as “one of the best in her life.” Though I enjoy naturism because of its typical features of peace and quiet, this comment struck me as incredibly poignant; one of the only things that I enjoy more than naturism itself is sharing naturist experiences with others. Once again, there’s a parallel: I enjoy sharing clothed vacation spots with others, and I love teaching others my hobbies so that they can experience joy through those hobbies also, so why would I not absolutely love sharing naturist experiences with a newbie naturist? SUCH sweet moments in the south of France; I think each of us felt bummed to board the all-clothed boat to return to the mainland. 

How to Prepare to Share Naturist Experiences with Others

Unless your friends have been carefully following a naturist blog (doubtful), it seems wise to broach the subject with care, as they might have loads of questions and may feel self-conscious talking about the subject. Here are a few helpful tips about how you can prepare a newbie for their first naturist experience. 

  1. Discussion. Make sure that you have fully described why you enjoy naturism. Explain what non-sexual nudity means to you. 
  2. Give them Options. Don’t ever force someone into trying naturism. Instead, express your excitement and openness to share various experiences with others naked. Offer a variety of potential situations in which you enjoy naturism so that people can choose one that seems right for them. For some, swimming seems like a natural entry point, as people tend to wear less clothes at the beach/in a pool/hot tub anyways. Naked breakfast could seem like a larger leap to some, because the thought of sitting at a table without clothes or even in underwear seems like a bit of a stretch. Some might prefer a beer to ease them into the experience. Whatever the options, one must admit to the idea that options provide someone with the ability to choose a situation with which they might feel most comfortable. However, keep in mind that talking about naturism could also make someone feel shy. Read the signals and do your best to help. 
  3. Don’t make them guess the Norms. As a newbie naturist, it can be embarrassing to ask questions. However, the more answers that you give without them asking, the less mysterious and/or scary the experience will be. Depending on their nonverbal cues, explain to them about what to expect in various naturist situations that may apply to them: Is it expected that you wear clothes? Could you wear just bathing suit bottoms but not a top? Do you need to sit on a towel (yes!)? Is there a norm for shaving (no)? Can/should you eat at that restaurant naked/topless? Where can they get undressed/where can they leave their clothes?
  4. Take off your clothes first. It’s always better to have the newbie naturist follow “in your footsteps.” Otherwise, they will wonder where to take off their clothes (in public or privately), when to take off their clothes, etc. Better for you to set the precedent and to show that you’re comfortable than to leave them wondering. 
  5. Ensure them that you are not judging. Body image is a thing! Ironically, after being immersed in naturism, many find that they feel less self-conscious. However, prior to experiencing it for the first time, many feel quite nervous about exposing all. While experienced naturists are used to not judging others for their body shape, shaving preferences, size of their butt, etc., newbies may feel extremely nervous. I tend to share the brief vignette that eased my concerns as someone trying naturism for the first time: When I speak with you, where am I looking when you’re wearing clothes? The only correct answer is “my eyes.” Suddenly, everything falls into place; it’s a good point of reference if someone expresses concern. 
  6. Be willing to answer questions. If someone is nervous, they may have many questions. Be ready to answer questions in a non-judgmental way. 
  7. Give someone an out. Again, read your audience. Assure them that it’s okay to wear clothes at the table, or offer to do another activity (with clothes). It’s easy to tell when someone is squeamish or absolutely squealing with delight (and I’ve been in situations with both). If someone is uncomfortable, help to remove them from the situation or change the circumstances to make them more comfortable. 

Do you have any other tips for helping ease newbie naturists into the practice? Do you prefer naturism alone or with others? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

For me, life is better experienced with others; naturally, naturism is better experienced with others. Go share the joy! 

You might want to check out Addie’s previous posts on The Meandering Naturist:

Vignettes of a Blossoming Naturist

Dating for Naturists: Can I fit “Naturism” into my Tinder Profile Description?

Add This to Your Bucket List: Naked in a Rainstorm

Images for this post where taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you find an image that belongs to you and should be removed, let us know and we’ll take it down.