Naturists and Nudists – Are They the Same?
Are Naturists & Nudists the Same?
Many misconceptions exist concerning naturists. They are often thought to be “swingers,” or people who otherwise experience sexual gratification from being nude around other people who are wearing no clothing. However, naturists are simply normal people who enjoy going naked for reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Many of them feel that the sensation of warm sun on their skin is one of the best feelings that they have ever had. Some even like the way gentle raindrops feel on exposed skin.
Those who want to know “what” an average naturist is, should simply look at the people around him or her for an honest answer to that question. The sturdy man in the business suit in front of you on the bus who is reading the morning paper with such a serious look on his face could very well enjoy spending his leisure time at nudist resorts. The elderly woman next to you in the deli ordering a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread could have recently returned from a naturist nude cruise through the Inside Passage of the state of Alaska. The policeman who gave you that speeding ticket last month could also be a practicing naturist. There is simply no way to tell if a person prefers to spend time unclothed unless he or she tells you. Naturists are not part of some secret society, they don’t have a special handshake or use code to communicate with one another. They are, quite simply, everyday people.
Even some celebrities are and have been naturists. Several U.S. presidents have been naturists, including John F. Kennedy and John Quincy Adams. Benjamin Franklin was another noted naturist. Remember the old cartoon character, Mr. Magoo, who chugged his way absentmindedly across so many of our country’s television screens? The man who provided the voice for our lovable friend, Jim Baccus, was another famous person who preferred the naturist lifestyle.
Although most naturists don’t have the bodies of models or actors, they’re more likely to have healthy body images than others in our society. Naturism is about acceptance of the human body no matter what the size or shape. Even though almost everyone has had (or still has) some sort of body image struggles at one point in their lives, naturists accept themselves for who they are and don’t beat themselves up because their bodies don’t conform to some impossible standard made up by those who profit from the insecurities of others.
Many people have different definitions of what it means to be a naturist. You can ask some people what the difference is between nudist and naturist, and you’ll likely get a different answer from every person. Some will say naturists are all about going nude on public land while nudists go to private resorts. Others will say naturists go naked all the time while nudists only do it occasionally. But in our view, becoming a naturist is quite simple — all that’s required is a desire to go unclothed at times. Some naturists are more comfortable going about their daily existence without clothing on but are reticent to attend clothing optional events or naked parties while others have no such qualms. Everyone has the right to decide their own comfort level and to participate in social nudity as often or as seldom as they like.
Those who enjoy being unclothed while socializing have many available options. Nudist resorts are popular for those who like to be outdoors while unclothed, and nudist cruises are also becoming very popular. Regional and local nudist groups exist in almost all communities, and most of them are welcoming of new members.
So, after reading the above, some people would ask why. Why do some people choose to be nude? For some, becoming a naturist is a carefully considered lifestyle. For others, it is not a big deal, no more complex than a day at the nude beach. Naturism provides a sense of freedom. Those who step into the naturists’ shoes are overwhelmed at how good it feels to be without clothes. They feel that social naturism allows them to let loose and be free. It helps people to not only accept themselves, but also to accept others.
Who are the naturists? We at Young Naturists America say anyone who practices nonsexual nude recreation or social nudity can be defined as a naturist. There are millions of naturists worldwide. Most of them can be found in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Statistics show that one in every four Americans has skinny dipped or sun bathed nude at some point in their lives. Most of these people are not naturists, but the nude recreation industry is growing so fast that many of these might become full time naturists. Many naturists are welcomed in America at some of the beaches along the east and west coasts. There are also clubs, resorts and campgrounds that welcome naturists.
When they talk about social nudism and nude recreation, there are many misconceptions as to what it means. It does not mean sex, which is what most people first think of when they hear nude or nudity. Social nudity and nude recreation simply mean what it says: nude group activities. These activities include nude backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving and sky diving. Less adventurous naturists might want to stick with other nude recreation such as sunbathing, skinny dipping, house parties, cruises and weekends away to nude campgrounds or resorts.
Another misconception by most people is that social nudity is illegal. This, although complicated, is not true. There are many public places such as beaches, resorts and campgrounds where nudity is legal and sometimes preferred. Some are clothing optional, but even some are strict with nudity being required. So, having explained where nudity is legal, it is not okay in some jurisdictions. For example, taking your clothes off in the middle of your town mall would probably get you arrested for indecent exposure, disturbing the peace or creating a public nuisance. Arrests often depend on what the police officers or prosecutors think, not what the law says. Women are still sometimes harassed for breastfeeding in public in some areas. It can even go as far as prosecuting parents for taking innocent nude pictures of their children. Not everywhere is like this, however. In more broad-minded areas, the difference between indecent activity and simply being nude for the pleasure of being nude is taken into consideration.
Since naturism is about body acceptance and awareness, it makes it appropriate for everyone. Families with children are always welcome at any event or location that welcomes naturists. Any event or location that discourages children should be looked at carefully unless it is a grueling hike or a late night dance at a club.
If you feel that becoming a naturist is right for you, ask for help from a friend or spouse, or contact a nudist organization near you. Naturism is not something that should be forced. So, if you can imagine being nude in your house but can’t imagine doing it in public, that’s ok! Take small steps. Try going to a naturist beach and gradually losing articles of clothing. Just don’t stand there too long fully clothed; the naturists there might take you for a gawker!