Talking to your children about the POTUS and porn-stars, school shootings, and the dangers of seeing a nude person on the beach.

What on earth is going on?

So first the first time ever, I felt badly for Donald Trump Jr. yesterday when I came across a news-feed that says he’s taking a lot of heat for letting his 3-year-old daughter play at home without a shirt on. Really? Are you kidding me?

So let me see if I can grasp where things are at here in 2018…

  • Whether you read the New York Times, or watch Fox and Friends, you can scarcely get through a single day without hearing the name Stormy Daniels, and at least some diffused reference to Russian prostitutes peeing in a Moscow hotel room. (Just to be non-partisan here, do we remember all the sordid details of how Bill Clinton did not have sex with that woman!) In either case, the suggestion that these things didn’t actually happen simply ramp up the imagination to warp speed, causing one to wonder, “Huh! What would that have looked like?”
  • I remember the utter horror while the Columbine Shooting was unfolding on TV, some 20 years ago – simply unfathomable that such a thing could happen in what should be a known safe-haven for our children. Today, an event of that magnitude barely makes the evening news.
  • In the meantime, Netflix and Amazon Prime have all but replaced network television, completely changing the norm for (sexual!) nudity if you choose to watch anything other than the Disney Channel. Let me clarify the rules – It’s OK to see naked people on TV as long as they’re locked in a sweaty embrace, undulating in passion.
  • But turn to page two of the local newspaper and you’ll likely find some wacky story about a person who held up a 7-11 Store in the nude, or heaven forbid, exposed her breasts at the seashore or dared to breastfeed a child in a shopping mall.
  • Dare I even mention the ritual of “sexting” as that now appears to be part of the normal courtship routine for your average middle-school kid? Thank you Snapchat for creating a tool that (supposedly) destroys the evidence after 10 seconds.

I suspect my point is self-evident by now, especially to those open-minded enough to read a naturist blog. What on earth is going on with our collective sense of values? And beyond that, how do you have a candid conversation with your 13-year-old when he comes home and asks whether you think the porn-star payoff was actually drawn from campaign contributions? “My U.S. history teacher says it’s Watergate all over again.”

Our children are now in their late twenties. They grew up with the internet, and while we took to the normal parental precautions of having computers in public spaces, monitoring browser use, etc., smart phones didn’t become common until our youngest was a senior in high school. They had to discover the joys and perils of phone sex on their own time and their own dime.

We had (have) a very frank relationship with our children, ascribing to simple advice offered to us shortly after our first daughter was born. “When your kids ask difficult questions, answer the question directly with age-appropriate, but real information” But only answer the question, then stop talking. If they need to know more, they’ll ask more questions. Of course, we had also been taking them to naturist places from the time they were old enough to go to Disneyland, which pretty much negated the need for them to ask questions about body parts and pubic hair, not to mention the natural process of aging. They did, however, have some awkward questions about the old naked drunk guy who ran his golf-cart into a tree at a local nudist resort. That was when we decided American nudist resorts were difficult for families, and moved our naturist endeavors to France.

But honestly, I just don’t understand how children or adults are supposed to sort any of this out in relation to any kind of value system. Our most conservative friends will cite – chapter and verse – religious principals that provide a clear framework to establish right and wrong, but seem to have no reservations whatsoever about a President who does not appear to be contesting that he partook in intimate activities with porn stars and prostitutes, but whether such activities constitute collusion or fiduciary impropriety! Don’t even get me started on the people who attack teenagers who rally for gun control. Spend that time instead gathering up a few statistics about how many children have died after seeing a penis or a breast at the beach, then compare those numbers to how many have lost their lives as a result of going to school when a shooter cut loose.

I suppose critics of this argument would say, “You’re talking apples and oranges, dude! What’s your point?”

My point is that the most adamant critics of Donald Trump Jr. about letting his daughter run around without a shirt on, chastised him for “not teaching his daughter a proper sense of modesty.” Funny, our children never once got confused about when and where they could/should be naked. We never got a call from the principal telling us our son forgot to wear pants today. Nor did they ever get a French naturist resort confused with a textile campground or the pool complex at Disney World. “Hey! You can’t go to the mall naked” we said to our teenage daughters exactly never.

They were, however, of age about the time we had to explain the stains on Monica’s blue dress, while rationalizing whether oral activities did or did not constitute having “sex with that woman.” And having grown up during the the evolution of the various Nintendo systems, my children have a much higher threshold (or I should say, are completely desensitized) for violence in movies, video games, and on TV. Post a video from a European naturist resort on Facebook or YouTube and get your account shut-down. Put up a clip from the latest feature film with 90 minutes of death and destruction and your worst case is having the clip removed for copyright infraction.

I understand that not everyone was born to be a naturist. Some people don’t like going to the beach at all, with or without a swimsuit. And we all have our own issues with looking in the mirror each morning, and to what degree we can stand to look at ourselves in the altogether. That’s all fair.

But if we had to make a list of the top ten – top twenty? top ONE-HUNDRED? – things that are contributing to the moral decay of humanity, does seeing a naked person lying on the beach really make that list? Here’s a research study for an eager doctoral student someplace: “Compare the number of people who have fallen victim to a naked person, including fatalities, severe injury, or even lasting psychological damage, to the number of people who are completely adrift right now from other social phenomena.” Adrift because they struggle with porn addiction in an era where Stormy Daniels is a household name. Adrift because they are utterly confused about fake news and why lying is the new truth. Adrift because they lost a loved one in a school shooting, and nobody seems the least bit concerned about the prospect of giving guns to teachers.

Perhaps we should sell bumper stickers:

What’s more dangerous? A naked person or a teacher with a gun?

Good luck parents of the Class of 2036! Be sure to unplug the TV, home-school your children, don’t read fake news, and for heaven’s sake, don’t take them to a beach or a campground where they might see body parts similar to their own.

So many rules!

The Labyrinth to Social Nudity in Japan

I have changed planes at Narita airport near Tokyo perhaps a dozen times, but somehow, never quite made it out of the airport to actually see Japan – until just a few months ago when I had an opportunity to attend a conference in Kobe. And alas, with that came an opportunity to visit one of the celebrated hot spring public baths that I’ve heard so much about over the years.

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I really had no idea what to expect, except for vague recollections of travel pieces I’ve read over the years. Travel banter from a cocktail party someplace? Somehow, I remember somebody describing a dark hall with wooden planks, and old men groaning as they lowered themselves into the scalding water. Sounding quite a bit short of alluring, I went digging on the internet to see what this famously Japanese custom was about, and if it warranted an afternoon of exploration on a cold winter’s day.

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Trip Advisor led me to the Kobe suburb of Arima; something akin to an Austrian ski village, but lined with high rise apartment and hotel complexes, it seems that hot water flows out of the mountain here in copious amounts, creating a holiday mecca for those who wish to spend an hour, a day, a weekend soaking in the healing waters.

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Turns out this is one of the more well known spots in the Japan to hang out with the boys – or hang out with the girls, but not a place where the boys and the girls will hang out together, at least, not while bathing. As I made my way through various trip reviews, I learned that nearly every hotel in this little valley had their own onsen – or hot springs bath – with the incentive of one stop shopping. “Stay in our lovely hotel, have a hot stone massage, and bathe in the magic water.” I was getting the picture, and so far, it didn’t sound much like my preconceived image of groaning old men in a dark cavern.

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To cut to the chase, I chose the Taiko no Yu onsen about a 10 minute walk, up hill, from the local train station, chosen in large part due to a reviewer who took the time to explain the process while providing a valuable tip, “Good place for first-time foreigners” as most of the signage has English subtitles.” That, by itself, was worth the price of admission.

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Things I wasn’t prepared for… and keep in mind, I’ve been naked on six continents… are many and substantial in this case. Beginning with the procurement of three lockers! One to hold your shoes, one where you leave your everyday clothing, and finally, one where you bare all (leaving your pajama like robe behind) and find your way to the hot mineral baths that have revitalized SO many souls over the centuries.

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The take away of my exploration is that naked is different here than naked in the western world, and would probably be a good bit different yet had it not been for the influence of the western world. Seems that in the days before WWII, during which Japan had been at least moderately successful in isolating themselves form western influences, nudity was essentially a non-issue. “You have boy parts. I have girl parts. Let’s bathe.”

Between the missionaries and the American military generals, it seems we convinced the Japanese to come to their senses and realize that social nudity, left unchecked, will lead to… well I don’t know what it’ll lead to as you can find pretty much anything you want on the internet these days, so what’s the big deal? In any event, today most Japanese onsens are gender separated.

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My experience – though very much limited to a one-day visit to a recommended Trip Advisor spa – was anything but sexual. In fact, this was very much a family affair, where the main (sole) objective is soaking in the magical mineral waters, some of which are clear (I personally like that!) and some of which are milk-chocolate brown (How do you know how deep the pool is when you can’t see the bottom?)

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Since it was a Sunday afternoon, many were there on family day outings, with children of all ages standing in line with their parents as if they we’re queuing up for admission to Disneyland. Of course, I can only speak to the ambiance of the male side, but once you leave your robe behind in the third locker room, nudity is prevalent and normal, even in congested areas where you can hardly get through the crowd without brushing up against another (naked) body. After the customary seated shower, I settled into one of the pools in the main area while observing with quiet awe that three generations of male humans were all enjoying the day of casual nudity and luxurious soaking. Not even in French family naturist resorts does inter-generational nudity seem like such a non issue. Somehow, they had missed the memo that a 10-year-old child seeing his father’s pubic hair or genitalia was an immediate and necessary precursor to psycho-therapy.

I’ve ruminated on this quite a lot since my visit to Japan, and have since found another great article from an author who’s experience was apparently quite similar to my own. The obvious and recurring theme continues to bare out the question: How is it we’ve made the human body so controversial when, in one version or another, our body parts are all pretty much the same. (That’s setting to one side that most cultures agree that the visibility of hands and feet is less far less egregious than the accidental sighting of a  penis or breasts.)  Seems to me the western world has done irreparable damage to this Japanese idea, as my impression is that fifty years ago, mom and dad would have been able to enjoy the entire day at the onsen together – as a whole family regardless of gender. But for those who worry about being caught climbing out of the shower by your 12-year-old, my brief qualitative survey suggests that children seeing their parents naked apparently does not scar them for lives. On this front, we westerners could learn a thing or two.

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2018 – from the naked eye…

As so often happens during the cold winter months, I’ve fallen away from my blog. Winter is a particularly crazy time for me at work, and there simply isn’t much time to write, let alone give much thought to/about meandering naked.

But the weather is starting to turn here in the eastern United States, and it seems hopeful that despite blizzard like conditions all the way into April, there is some hope that it will soon be warm enough to work on the all over tan on the back deck soon. So in quiet anticipation, I thought it might be interesting to take a quick inventory of the developments in the naturist cyber-sphere that I’ve noticed over the past year.

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I was sorry to see Felicity and Jordan give up the fight for YNA (Young Naturists of America) after working so diligently in advocating for normalizing social nudity. If you don’t know Felicity, she is a 20-something that grew up in a naturist family frequenting a club in New Jersey, and she and her partner Jordan were incredibly progressive in their efforts to move nude recreation into the mainstream of their peer group. I have yet to meet them, but it seems the task simply became too onerous, and I suspect they simply encountered “too much weird,” as so often can be the case when working for a cause considered deviant by many, intentionally exploitative by some. In any case, it’s a bummer. You can still find some of the best content from their old website on Felicity’s blog, though she has ramped up her banter about feminist causes in this new incarnation. I get it, especially in this political climate, but it does diffuse the energy a good bit as related to the naturist cause. One would like to think that people who embrace naturism have already gotten past things like gender bias and discrimination, though as I said in an earlier post, (The Demographics of Nakedness) about the only thing naturists have in common is being naked. So there it is.

She’s also started a series of interviews with everyday people from all walks of life who frequent Gunnison Beach near NYC. Interesting project. Interesting read. The Real Nude Beach: A Body-Positive Photography Project on Gunnison Beach.

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I’ve become an avid fan of Nick and Lins from Belgium and their most excellent Naked Wanderings website and Instagram accounts. Was hoping I might actually meet them this spring as they are currently exploring naturist places in North America. They’ve amassed a huge following, and it appears they are somehow able to make a living writing about social nudity. In any event, they are wonderful ambassadors for the cause, and their website is becoming one of the best resources for naturism that gives a glimmer of hope to the under-fifty crowd for figuring this whole thing out.

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Clothes Free International seems to be making a comeback. Back in the early 2000s they were a significant force in the young naturist movement, particularly on the west coast, developing a series of video shorts called Nudes in the News that highlighted news stories about social nudity, along with a nice variety of trip and beach reports. For a long time, the CFI message boards were about the best thing going for finding other naturists and discovering places to become one, but alas, the incessant banter about pubic hair and erections were about the only threads that could sustain themselves into oblivion. I, personally, became disenfranchised when one of the moderators erroneously deemed one of my previous blogs to promote swinging as he had misread one of my trip reports. Despite repeated attempts, I was never quite able to sort that out, and ended up jumping ship from their forum. But in any event, they seem to have a new crew with new energy and renewed optimism for the cause. And with ever-improving technology, their production values are quite excellent. A good resource, for sure.

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It’s been someplace between amusing and astonishing to watch the Topfree in Ocean City debate burn up the airwaves, a perfect recipe for media frenzy. Seems a few determined women are eager to enjoy the rights of their male counterparts, but the mayor of this beachfront resort town is certain this will destroy the family values of what most would consider to be a ticky-tacky boardwalk wonderland. Have no delusions, Maryland is anything but progressive on matters like social nudity, with strict referendums passed a few years ago that banned discreet nudity on some of the most remote beaches of Assateague Island, where about the only beings you’re likely to offend are the wild horses who run there. I always wonder if scuffles like this one are more helpful or hurtful to the cause, especially in this day and age when narrow-mindedness is increasingly in vogue. I also wonder how hard one would have to look to find a topless woman on this expansive beach in the Mid-Atlantic? My guess is that you have a better chance of winning the Powerball than seeing a naked breast in Maryland.

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In a somewhat related story, a young woman from Australia took on the establishment, or more specifically, the highly restrictive rules regarding the posting of nude photos on Instagram. Nude_YogaGirl had her account suspended, but instead of simply deleting her page, she fought back with a media blitz in the Australian press – and it worked! Her account has been reinstated, and as of this post, she is enjoying over 786,000 followers! A quick perusal of her photos suggests she had to agree to cover nipples and the pubic region, but it’s still a big step for nudity on social media, which has apparently garnered the support of nearly a million people who are not too offended to follow her account.

So here we are in 2018. Evermore paranoid about the exploitation of children to the point where their faces are pixelated in everyday newspaper articles, and absolutely freaking out about nippleage on Instagram and on the beach. All the while, stories about the President’s sordid doings with porn stars and Russian prostitutes surface daily on every channel of the media, which must be putting most parents in a way more awkward position for answering questions about morality and behavior that stretch far beyond simply acknowledging the existence of human anatomical parts.

It’s difficult to identify the naked truth when both words… naked, and truth, have become so controversial.

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OMG! You’ve Seen me Naked!

I just clicked through on a quirky piece on a Second Life blog with a series of naturist photos and a compelling case about the normalcy of nudity – or at least, how that should be the case.

I’m not a Second Life guy, so I have only a vague understanding of that culture, but I find it particularly intriguing when people who “live” in an entire world of alternate identities speak to the inherent truth and honestly of social nudity. (Even a bit more peculiar when people take on the identity of a nude avatar, which to me, has always seemed a bit too close to animated pornography – but that’s another topic for another day.)

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A few months ago, my blog crossed the threshold of a 500,000 hits. At the time, I considered writing some goofy post to the effect of, “A Half-Million Views of My Naked Ass,” but other than simply stating that some sort of strange “rite of passage” had occurred, I finally decided what’s the point?

Just to complete the loop, I also got a comment in response to one of my recent blog posts requesting – rather politely I will admit – that I offer “more male frontal nudity please.” I thought that to be particularly intriguing (and a bit irritating to be truthful) as there are a bazillion places on the internet these days where one can find full frontal nudity in all states of arousal or not. To be more specific, I have over 4000 followers through the various channels of my blog, and the realization that some of my readers are simply holding out for the opportunity to view my genitalia is flattering at best, but pretty creepy in reality.

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And so it goes in a day and age where we can go to the cinema and see sex and violence in copious quantities, but full frontal nudity puts a film in a different class, creating a parallel universe in the naturist community that sends a clear message that female breasts and male genitalia are not for the weak of heart! (If someone would like to explain to me to mystery of female genitalia as obscured by pubic hair, have at it!) The bizarre part of the entire equation to me is the fact that devoid of imagination, nudity has little or no allure. None! Most of us feel more self conscious (e.g. less alluring) when we lack a protective layer of cotton or nylon, and even fewer of us feel we have the bodily characteristics to qualify as internet worthy in the category of sexual stimulation.

How did we… as a species (!)… get to this place? My dog runs around naked all the time, and he seems totally oblivious to the entire phenomenon!

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I have often wondered where we would be with the social nudity thing without the overwhelmingly prudish aftermath of the Christian missionary conquest. Don’t get me wrong. I was raised in the Christian church, and I understand they mores they seek to espouse. Find a mate. Procreate. Don’t mess with genetics by making babies with your cousins. But in 2018??? With HBO, Pay-per-view, and Tommy Wiseau? Are you serious?

So after I finish this post, I’ll comb through my Twitter feed and block followers with auspicious names that are searching for God knows what, and I’ll look over the various blog posts I’ve published to date with one eye toward promoting body-positive advocacy and the other toward the “What on earth are you thinking?” crowd, knowing full well what they’re thinking, and wondering why they’re wasting time on the pages of my blog.

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And so it goes. We live in an age where acceptance and tolerance is fully embraced by everyone, except by those who are neither tolerant nor accepting. I have often wondered about the pioneers who brought nudism to America, so fastidious to the merits of high fences and private mailings. Today, you can have just about anything you want delivered to your mailbox or your computer, but set foot in your backyard donning a flaccid penis or an uncovered breast and you might find yourself in the Municipal Court defending your “right to bare arms.” Crazy.

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Perhaps I have grown tiresome in reiterating this in recent blog posts, but I’ll say it again here…  Social nudity is a liberating and rejuvenating experience to those who are able to get beyond the dogma of it all, which is all pretty bizarre when you consider that very few humans look better wrapped in nylon or Lycra than they do wrapped in skin.

So there we are then. Naked and afraid. Yet I will continue to rally for the naturist cause in the most altruistic way I know how. Hoping that one more person out there might read this blog and say, “Why the hell not?” Life is too short to spend our days wrapped in wet nylon!

[Images in this post are believed, by the blogger, to be in the public domain. If you wish to have an image removed, please contact me and I will respond accordingly.]

“Naked Truths” Raw Perceptions

[Images for this post were acquired from a Google Image Search. Please advise if I have used an image without appropriate permission.]

By the time I went home, I’d seen a hundred soft dicks…

Such is the opening line of a recent piece in RACKED, an online fashion magazine, for which the author was sent on special assignment to experience a week at a typical naturist gathering, intended to provide fodder for an article about how clothing defines who we are. Does it though?

Not surprisingly, Naked Truths: Who Are We Without Our Clothes by young freelance writer Jamie Lauren Keiles could easily be the sequel to David Sedaris’s final essay from his 1998 book, Naked. In each case, the writing style is someplace between unabashed and irreverent. And in each case, the author grapples with the awkward dichotomy of something (nakedness, that is) that should be natural and empowering, while drawing attention to the bizarre customs that have shifted the emphasis of the ideal from rejuvenating to weird!

After dinner, I walked to the lake, down an isolated trail in a thicket of trees. The sun was not scheduled to set for two more hours. The light came green and filtered through the leaves as I stopped midway to pull off my shirt, then continued down the trail, fully nude except my shoes. A breeze off the lake took stock of every fine mammalian hair on my body. Walking naked in the woods makes you feel like a real goddamn Homo sapiens. My posture looked stupid, like it had been formed in a time before women were dainty. My brain was a mass of electrical signals; I wanted to kill an animal, or maybe be killed by one.

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Not the author pointed out in the photo. Don’t know who that is!

Ms. Keiles takes us through her week-long stay at the TNS Eastern Naturist Gathering one step at a time; at times with a sense of admiration for the genuine nature of the people she meets, at other times, sardonic and cutting in her realization of so much irony.

The following morning was cold and rainy. Most people at breakfast were wearing at least one article of clothing — a silk kimono or a terry-cloth bathrobe or a souvenir sweatshirt from a regional nude beach. One couple stepped out in matching tie-dye Snuggies. Only two well-insulated men remained nude, one very hairy and one very fat. The scene felt like the relief effort following a tragic YMCA locker room fire.

Or later, when she reflects on the ritual square dancing lessons…

Square dancing is an elaborate coupled dance with lots of touching and changing of partners. My partner was a shy man in black tube socks and a Casio watch. I did not feel eager to have him hold my naked body, but soon he proved a dependable dancer. Our first song was a wife-swapping routine called “Push Ol’ Pa, Push Ol’ Ma.” It opened with a jaunty fiddle and a move called “grand left and right” that involved shaking hands with different partners around a circle. As the ladies traveled clockwise and the men counterclockwise, I took extreme care to connect with each outstretched hand. I shook the hand of a 7-foot-tall man with black hair. I shook the hand of a gay man in pearls. When the song was over, everyone agreed that I was a really good square dancer. It is easy to learn quickly when the risk of failure is grabbing a stranger’s penis.

First of all, square dancing lessons? Can you think of anyplace else you might go for a week-long retreat wherein one of the main events might be square dancing lessons? (Author’s note: My parents were life-long square dancers, albeit, most definitely not naturists. Square dancing is an important part of the American tradition, and I suspect, still a wonderful pastime for many people in our midst. But really? This is a headliner event at a naturist gathering?)

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Pudding toss at a naturist event. Awkward.

The reason Keiles’s article resonated with me so deeply – as well as that of David Sedaris before – is this thing that has clearly become an obsession of mine to somehow normalize perceptions related to social nudity amidst even a few “on-the-fencers” here in the United States of America. I am sometimes criticized regarding the content of my blog, as so much of my reportage suggests that you have to travel to Europe to experience naturism in any altruistic sort of way. The longer I’m at this though, and the more I read pieces by unsuspecting journalists like Jamie Lauren Keiles, the more I succumb to the fact that, this may indeed be true.

There is some irony, I suppose, that I’ve been a member of TNS (The Naturist Society) since about 1990. Keiles talks a bit about this organization in her essay, noting that it was born out of the nude beach groupies of Northern California (my homeland), in what I always perceived to be a push back against some of the politics and weirdness of the AANR. (American Association for Nude Recreation) It may be that I’m a bit bent out of shape that TNS has never been willing to accept an article submission under a pseudonym, despite repeated requests and explanations that since I am a published author in academia, it might not the best idea to entangle my naturist writings with those about education and pedagogy.

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A genuine perception of naturists. Sigh.

I digress, but not really! The TNS policy on pseudonyms – and square-dancing for that matter – reflects a distorted reality as to just how the average American perceives the naturist idea.

Another excerpt, this time about the grand finale talent show at the end of the week,

Curtain down, curtain up: A woman played a beat on a gong and a drum as her pendulous breasts hit the twos and fours. A man with a 12-gauge ring through his dick read an original poem about his sisters.

Really? Like that of Sedaris, this essay in a fashion magazine will reach more people in a week’s time than all the positive PR about American naturism could possibly find in a year! But let me be clear. The author is merely reporting – with flair, to be sure – what she saw and how she experienced it as a 20-something female on assignment. To that end, I found her impressions from the stretching workshop (pseudo-yoga) to be really intriguing as well…

I looked around the group and watched the other people stretch. An eightysomething man and wife reached for their toes on towels in the corner. The room was a showcase of strange and gnarled postures. Spines curved over in improbable ways. Everyone else had at least a few liver spots. In your 20s, there’s a cognitive fail-safe that makes it impossible to imagine your body becoming an old person’s body. Our access to the symptoms of aging seems to be meted out according to market potential. (I know about wrinkles, only because I know I should buy a cream to prevent them.)

And there it is! Perhaps the thing we have most admired about naturist travel in Europe is the way Europeans perceive themselves, naked or otherwise. Not only do we see that in the European naturist resorts, but in every small village as well, where one finds an abundance of 90-something humans making their way through the streets to the village market, on foot (!), acknowledging that aging is part of the life cycle, and at least “I have all day to get to the market.”

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Supposedly real naturists dining together, but alas, nobody is sitting on a towel.

In the meantime, the naturist scene in American seems to be as polarized as the country itself. (Little political jab there!) In fact, we have something of an imperfect trifecta!

  • The constituencies of TNS and AANR that continue to host events reminiscent of a 1950s “covered-dish dinner,” (Click through to the definition. It’s worth it!) despite the fact that as Keiles noted, the attendance of a contingency of under-60s hasn’t “proved true in any statistically significant way.”
  • The places where nudity does equal sex! Though Keiles’s piece was published three days ago, I found the two comments on the publication website informative in a sad sort of way. The first comment was from some guy who was advocating for his right to sport an erection when naked in public. The second post was committed to shutting the first guy down. Go to the wrong naturist place in Florida, and you’ve signed up for lingerie dances and hocus pocus in the pool. All very confusing, and most definitely not helping the social nudity cause.
  • And finally, the no-nudity, unless it sells skin products culture. I could write volumes on the puritanical implications of an age in when sexuality sells so many movies, beauty products, and even swimwear lines at the expense of simple immodesty that says, “I’m OK with who I am, with or without clothing.”

Remember, Keiles writes for a fashion magazine, which is why she set out to do this piece in the first place. She says right in the title of the essay that this was intended to explain, “what we accomplish when we choose to wear clothes.” Given all the rhetoric to we are all the same people when we’re naked, Keiles makes a fairly compelling case that that’s not really true at all. We are the people that we are – naked or not.

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Dad!?! What the Hell are you Doing?

We made some new friends today at lunch during our first day (second visit) at Skinny Dippers Resort on Mallorca. As was the case during our stay last year, the typical introductory visit follows a fairly predictable script; Where else have you done the naturist thing? How did you get into nude recreation? And, if the pre-screening test goes well, the inevitable, “Do your kids know you’re here?”

As it happens, our kids do know we’re at a naturist place. We had a FaceTime session with our 29-year-old daughter today (appropriately undressed for the occasion) and her 27-year-old sister will join us (here at Skinny Dippers) for a few days in the coming week. As I have mentioned before, each of our daughters are naturist-friendly, or more directly, “we will undress for a free vacation.”

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Es Trenc Playa

Turns out that we are the exception to the rule by way more than a country mile! In fact, in our informal survey of other parents we have met at naturist places over the past ten years, there are approximately zero subjects who have told their children, “Yeah, we’re going to lie in the sun naked for two weeks – come join us if you’d like.” Which leads to an amusing story our new friend told us at (naked) lunch today…

Seems he and his wife were visiting a clothing-optional beach in Great Britain when their (now-adult) daughter was about six years old. Having completed a rejuvenating swim, the father came ashore with swim-trunks in hand, surrounded by naked people,  wringing out the seaweed and salt-water and enjoying a brief dose of fresh-air-all-over. To which the daughter replied in horror, [insert charming British accent here,] DAD!?! What the HELL are you doing?

What the hell, indeed!?!

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I find myself more introspective than usual during our world travels, with an unusual amount of time to read, and even a few minutes to catch-up on a few reliable news-feeds by the likes of John Oliver and Seth Meyers. (Sorry friends – if you’re an avid Trump fan, you may want to X out of this page now and get on with your day. Don’t let my little rant here diminish your appreciation for my blog.) Today’s confluence of events, besides this delightful story delivered with passion from my Brexit disdaining comrade, also included time on a floaty in the pool – naked, of course – while reading Bassem Youssef’s Revolution for Dummies, and the discovery of this handy little flow-chart that attempts to explain the terms of engagement for the President of the United States and the first lady of France.

Donald! What the hell are you doing?!?

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Thank you for setting the bar for us, President Trump.

In the case of the Youssef book, he walks his readers through the Arab Spring and the Egyptian revolution, step-by-step, so that westerners might have some insight into the rise of radical Islam, and just how that aligns with the other religious-gone-political campaigns the world over. Today’s lesson was, “Liberal thinking leads to discussion, which leads to democracy, which leads to freedom of thought, which leads to women baring skin (and driving cars!), which leads to… wait for it… mass orgies in the streets in every city and town the world over. You would think these observations to be ridiculous until you realize that Youssef struck such a nerve with his ironic humor that he was forced into exile, and now resides in asylum in the United States of America. (Don’t tell Donald.)

So let’s be clear. I’m one of those professor types that works pretty hard to draw conclusions out of non-sequitur ideas, but I have to say, we live in a bizarre age when the leader [sic] of the free world can essentially make a pass at another diplomat’s wife, when women of the Arab world are banished to a life of physical (fabric) and psychological (everything else!) imprisonment, and a six-year-old child is shocked by the appearance of her father’s penis at the distance of fifty meters on a clothing-optional beach.

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And for that matter, we are only frank with our adult children about our naturist doings because we had the audacity and resource to be naturists with them while they were children, though we had to travel all the way to France to make that seem normal and acceptable for them.

My point exactly? Well really, I just wanted to tell that humorous story from lunch today. But that aside, my desire to create a blog in the first place was to create a place on the internet where social nudity assumes its rightful place in this bizarre and chaotic world in which we live. In America, we even have children’s books that help us teach our children that “this is an elbow, this is a toe, and this is a penis.” If you’re really progressive parents, maybe you have those books in your house that help explain to your children that at a certain age you grow hair on your body and things start to protrude.

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But really? How does a child understand the oppression of women in the Middle-east, let alone the behavior of an American president, if they can’t see a penis or a breast without reeling in horror and disbelief? Especially in this day and age when they are simply a Google search away from the most extraordinary elements of sexual deviance, and god knows what else.

Clearly, my mind is warped in favor of nakedness, along with body acceptance, truthfulness, and a realization that humans have a finite number of body parts that make them human. If there are, indeed, orgies on the street, I don’t think you can ascribe those to the nudists. Truth be told, anecdotal evidence suggests people who are into sexual deviance (orgies, et al…) are quite shy about total nakedness. Too vulnerable. Too real.

“Dad? What the Hell are you Doing?”

“I’m being human, dear one. Go back to playing in the sand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Parents Took Me to a Naked Place

I’m in France right now, as is my 20-something daughter, but she is not traveling with us at the moment. In fact, she took a beach trip today with several friends and acquaintances – all of whom I know – to just an ordinary beach on the Cote d’Azur. Not long into their stay, off came her bikini top. Hardly necessary on any beach in France, so why not?

Our daughter is what I would call naturist friendly. Would she drive 300 miles to get to a naturist beach (as I would) just to add it to her bucket list? Probably not. But given the choice to swim naked or adorn herself in wet nylon – well, that’s a no-brainer! Nylon and lycra be gone! As one of her naturist-friendly peers so aptly stated, “What’s the big deal? We all know what’s down there!”

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The big deal, at least for Americans, is that we are very much confused about the meaning of nudity, especially when it comes to bringing the kids along. The AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation) will tell you that naturist travel is enjoying a significant upswing, especially when you consider offerings like the Big Nude Boat that packs 1000+ nudies onto a Carnival cruise ship. But in our experience, this marketing niche is directed to either the 30-something “I need a spark in my life” set, or the over 50 empty-nesters, who wouldn’t dream of telling their children that they were going on a nakation.

As I write this from a sweet little hotel on Ile du Levant, it occurs to me that I saw many children today – some clothed, some not – as well as just about every other age demographic over the course of the day, and not a single person looked shocked, disgusted, or otherwise traumatized. Which leads me back to my daughter’s naturist curious friend when she asks me, “So when you took your kids on nakation in France, weren’t you concerned about the inevitable back-to-school essay called, What I did last summer?

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Our good friends have always known about our aversion to wrapping ourselves in fabric, as have many of our siblings. But it is true that we were a bit more cautious when it came to telling the grandparents that the true meaning of summer vacation meant not having to launder your underwear, or anything else for that matter. How could anyone fathom the context of a family naturist resort in the South of France had they not experienced such a thing? Might we be putting our children in harm’s way? Will they need to see a psychologist in 15 years having repressed memories of seeing people with (or without) pubic hair? Or perhaps to most viable concern, will they show up on the internet on some unsavory website?

To be fair, the digital age has not been kind to the naturist agenda, at least not when it comes to the proliferation of unauthorized images captured from devices hidden and unknown, only for the purpose of exploitation. Though having acknowledged that, I have yet to find an unauthorized image of myself or any family member anywhere, which is quite remarkable given my 30+ years as a naturist. Could it happen tomorrow? Of course, but that is a relatively small danger within the broad strokes of cyber-crime.

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But I digress.

What did we/do we tell people when they ask about our holidays in Spain, Greece, and the South of France? We tell them where we went, and about how we rented a house, an apartment, or stayed in a hotel there, conveniently omitting the name of a specific naturist venue. In one case, upon mentioning a specific geographical destination (the Gironde peninsula in France) to a colleague, we both recognized the common denominator. Simply the mention of the town of Montalivet was enough to identify our shared desire for holidays without clothing.

“But what about the grandparents?”asks my young friend. What do you tell them? And what will the children say when you’re not around?

We were quite direct with our children, telling them that out of context, not everyone would understand the inherent value of family naturism, and that while our vacations were not to be thought of as secretive, there are many people with different value systems that simply would not understand, and your grandparents quite likely would fall into that category. But, if you inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, or even the absence of tan lines became a noted issue, then by all means, tell the truth and we’ll take it from there.

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Photo attribution: Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park. See there page on similar topic here.

Interestingly enough, that happened on at least a couple of occasions, but alas, the comments were so lacking in context, that they went unnoticed by the grand-parental units!

“We don’t wear swimsuits in France.”

“Of course you don’t honey. Now let’s get ready to go to the pool.”

The bi-product of all this, however, is that until adulthood, our children never found a level of comfort with nudity at home. France was a place to be naked; home was the place to be modest. And this would carry across, rather mysteriously, from one year to the next. As of this writing, none of them are avid naturists, but any of them will gladly accept the offer of food and housing, (note that clothing is missing) in an exotic Mediterranean or Caribbean destination. Funny how that works.

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As for the grandparents? We eventually fessed up to one side, as grandpa became increasingly internet savvy and wanted to know precisely where we were staying on an upcoming European adventure. Knowing we were just a Google search away from full exposure, I wrote a thoughtful email saying that I was less ashamed about the naturist thing than I was about keeping this from them for so many years. If it was such the right thing to do for our family – and it was – why not just come out and tell the full story?

But social norms are powerful, especially within the family structure. We were fortunate to have more freedom and autonomy than many, but then again, we had the sole responsibility of raising our children to be thoughtful humans with a worldly perspective. A world in which a naked man disabled by polio or a woman recovering from a mastectomy would become a casual topic for dinner conversation while living in a community of mutual acceptance. That is the very best face of naturism, and the environment we have experienced time and again during our travels throughout naturist Europe.

Would we do it differently if we had it to do over? Too many variables to answer that question, and those variables differ a great deal from one family to the next. But our naturist family vacations are among our most prized memories, and I believe our (adult) children would tell you that as well. As stated above, we all know what’s down there! Why we load that with so many taboos remains a mystery to me to this day. Somehow, violence and porn have become commonplace, but lying naked on a beach is still a source of suspicion and contempt.

Grow up America! We know what you’re hiding!