Nudism is the best possible antidote to body shame. It is also a great antidote to stress (once you get past the stress of trying it for the first time). Here are just a few things you should know about nudism:
Nudism is natural, safe, and innocent. It is connecting with your own body, nature, and life. It is accepting your body as it is – and letting go of hiding, of pretense, and of shame. It is freeing in a way that is inexplicable – you have to feel it for yourself. You might never want to wear clothes again!
Nudism is NOT sexual, suggestive or a meat market type of atmosphere. On the contrary, nudist resorts and parks have very strict rules about behavior and very clear guidelines about what is expected from nudists in terms of etiquette. Whereas on a public beach or public swimming pool, boys and men often leer openly at girls and women and even harass them, making unwanted sexually suggestive remarks and sometimes even sexual advances – and nobody can do anything meaningful about it or stop it – if that behavior ever happened at a nudist resort, it would be immediately and appropriately handled. Not only would the guilty parties be banned for life from that resort – but also from all other resorts/clubs affiliated with AANR. The word gets out. It is a strongly protective community. People don’t stare at nudists resorts. People don’t make inappropriate comments or laugh at other people. A nudist resort is a safe haven in an often over-sexualized, over-moralized, body-image crushing world. It is a place where you can just be yourself.
At nudist resorts, people are generally very friendly and unpretentious. If you’ve ever gone camping, you know how people are more friendly than usual — outdoors, enjoying nature? It’s a lot like that. Nudism isn’t about sex. I’m stressing that because I know that a lot of people have a really misguided idea of what nudism is like. Nudist resorts are places where bodies aren’t sexualized and commodified to sell things, unlike in the rest of the world – where female bodies are sexualized at alarmingly young ages and used to sell just about anything you can think of. Nudism is the antidote to that sort of thinking – that sort of over-sexualization of the human body. When you’re used to seeing naked bodies everywhere, it is ineffective to try to titillate you into buying something by the suggestion of nudity and/or sex.
People develop a more natural, less hysterical, and less warped relationship with the human body. Who are nudists? Nudists come from every walk of life. Nudists are all ages, from babies to the very elderly. Nudists come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Nudists are normal people. There are fat nudists and thin nudists. There are people with scars, people in wheelchairs, and people who’ve had mastectomies or lost limbs. There are lots of seniors at my favorite nudist resort – they’ve retired and live there. There are families. There are children of all ages for whom nudity is natural. There are some amazingly self-assured teenagers who relate with each other without all of the sexual overtones and anxiety that you often see in teenagers. These are kids who accept their bodies in ways that few non-nudist teenagers are able to do. And kids who have realistic ideas of what normal human bodies look like. I imagine that there are fewer nudists with eating disorders than the rest of the general population. There are very few people at nudist resorts – or in life – who have conventionally “perfect” bodies. In fact, nudism is a great equalizer. We’re all just human.
Nudism is fun and relaxing. Feeling the breeze on your bare body is soothing to the soul. Playing ping-pong in the nude is so much fun! Who doesn’t love swimming naked? It is the most natural thing on earth! My favorite resort (Cypress Cove) has two restaurants, two big swimming pools, a lake, tennis courts, a bicycle rental, two hot tubs, a gym, a massage therapy office, petanque, pickleball, and loads of other activities. You bring a towel and you sit on your towel whenever you sit down – it is all very hygienic and non-scary. Nudism is actually one of the most non-scary interactions that you can have with your body. I have found it to be an incredibly healing force in my life. There are nudist resorts, clubs, beaches, and parks all around the world. If you’re interested, start by getting some information from The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). By visiting their website at www.aanr.com. Try a few different resorts. Different people like different things — and there are places ranging from more developed with many amenities to very rustic. Each community has its own vibe. When you’re at a nudist site and meet people, ask them where their favorite places have been. There’s a great world out there to explore! Have fun! And go nude!
About eight years ago, when my husband first decided to try nude recreation, I had no idea that it would be something that he would develop a passion for–one that would change our whole family. During those years, whenever he would ask me if I would go to a nudist resort with him I would get an uneasy feeling. He would tell me how freeing and fun it was to walk around outside and recreate in the nude, but I just could not understand what the big deal was and why being nude made such a difference. He would tell me of the great health benefits of being nude in the sun and the respect that nudists had for their own and other people’s bodies. Being someone who believes in keeping myself healthy, I really appreciated the idea of the health benefits, but, on the other hand, I just wasn’t ready for something like that. In my mind, there were just too many reasons to decline.
When our older son turned sixteen, my husband took him to a nudist resort for a long weekend. They had a great “father and son” time kayaking, swimming, and hiking together. I was a bit skeptical and nervous, wondering how our son would react to that type of atmosphere. Well, when they came home, my son was so excited that he couldn’t wait to go back. Now, I had both my husband and my son telling me that I needed to try nude recreation.
During those eight years, my husband had become an advocate for nude recreation and naturism, so, you are probably wondering, where did that leave me. I had always been up for challenging myself. After graduating high school, I decided that I wanted to become a musician, so I bought an electric guitar, took lessons, wrote my first song within six months of learning how to play, and was fronting a band within a year. I earned a bachelor’s degree while I home schooled my two sons. I wrote a book that is designed to help people to home school a child who has high-functioning autism. However, nudism was a challenge that was even bigger for me. This challenge didn’t require developing a new skill, or studying and learning a new subject. It required something else: developing the right mental attitude about being naked.
The idea of being nude around strangers made me feel very uncomfortable and a lot of it had to do with our over-sexualized culture in America. I wondered if it was really possible for people to be able to recreate in the nude without “desires” being the focus. My husband would tell me that it is possible and would remind me of how many medical doctors and nurses see people nude on a daily basis and are able to keep sexual desires in check. That reality really helped me to get my thinking on the right track.
As I was warming up to the idea of trying nudism for the first time, my husband applied for and was hired as the executive director for the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). So, while I would have liked to have eased into nudism at a bit of a slower pace, the challenge side of me said, “I can do this,” and the first time I participated in nude recreation was during AANR’s mid-winter board meeting where they voted my husband, Dan Whicker, into his current position.
At the onset, trying nudism for the first time was very scary and different for me, but after I did it, I found out that it really was not as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. Once I saw that I was around people who have a healthy mental attitude about the human body and nudism, it made me feel at ease. I felt a huge sense of freedom being able to walk around in the sunshine with no clothes on, feeling the air hit all parts of my body. It was also very encouraging to see people not concerned over body shapes or imperfections, but who instead were interested in meeting new people and having fun together.
I am grateful for the support that I received from both my family and the AANR family, as I jumped into the nudist lifestyle. I felt so much comfort and encouragement, especially from those who have been involved in nudism for many years. It was an amazing first experience that changed our family, especially me, forever.
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