Nudists and Naturists Debate the Definition of the Terms Nudist Naturist

| December 23, 2012 | 28 Comments

What Nudists and Naturists Think The Definition of a Nudist or Naturist Really Is

Nudist Naturist Defined – Below I have assembled comments from some of the most influential people from the nudist / naturist community. During the recent events in the Castro with the San Francisco nudity ban, the label “nudist” has been tossed around a lot. Many people voiced all kinds of opinions about what a “nudist” is or should be.

Some believe that any person who enjoys nude recreation should be considered a nudist, while others feel that the term implies more than just enjoying some naked time. So it got me thinking and as always, I like to rely on people who have been around awhile and understand the inner workings of nudism in the United States.

Nudist Morley Schloss

Morley Schloss Heads A Debate About Nudism

Is there more to being a nudist than hanging out naked?

This was the question that I posed:

“Is anyone who takes part in and / or enjoys nude recreation a nudist naturist ? Or is there more to it than that? ”

Below you will read how this all-star celebrity cast of influential people define the terms nudist naturist (I value these individuals opinions and thank them all for taking the time to weigh in on this somewhat ambiguous topic):

      1. All Nudist – Of the widely read and followed All-Nudist Blog
      2. Tom Mulhall – Owner of the Nudist Resort – Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs California
      3. Paul Rapoport – Of the Federation of Canadian Naturists
      4. Morley Schloss – Of Sun Sport Gardens Nudist Resort In Florida
      5. Stephane Deschenes – Owner Of The Bare Oaks Nudist Resort In Canada
      6. Chet Kresiak – Long time blogger and publisher of Nudism And Naturism Daily News
      7. Mr. Sandy – Of Rock Lodge Nudist Club In New Jersey And Long Time Nudist
      8. John Andersen – Nude Recreation Advocate
      9. Dan – The current president of the Long Island Travasuns

All Nudist Author Of All-Nudist Blog:

Is anyone who takes part in and / or enjoys nude recreation a nudist? Or is there more to it than that? Is a streaker a nudist? Is someone who frequents Hedonism a nudist?

Of course not. So yes, there’s much more to social nudism than just ‘having fun naked.’ If in doubt, try telling any nudist/naturist that they’re no different than a naked Textile! Those who agree have a lot to learn about nudism/naturism; the rest will provide an earful of differences.

Tom Mulhall of Terra Cotta Inn:

Churchill said when talking about Brits and Americans: “Americans and British are one people separated only by a common language.”

Brits say spanner. We say wrench. They say bloody for something shocking like “bloody hell.” We say bloody to mean someone or thing covered in blood.

They say boot for the trunk of a car and bonnet for the hood. They say canteen, we say cafeteria. They say caravan, we say travel trailer or towed trailer. The list goes on and on.

Brits say naturist, we say nudist. The word nudist comes from the Latin word nudus and has been in use since the 1500’s.

Now in America, some people try to make naturists seem to be superior to nudists. Me, I don’t care which word you use.

Some people get all hung up about who is a “true” nudist or naturist. Me, I really don’t care about labeling people. I remember about 10 years ago a Florida TV station was at Haulover beach asking nude sunbathers, “Are you a nudist?” Every single group of people asked said no, they just liked to sunbathe nude. Only 1 old guy by himself said he was a nudist.

Some people think nudists have to be this or that; I just say they need to be nice people.


Paul Rapoport from the Federation of Canadian Naturists

Historically, there’s still that divide too, between people who think nudism (or naturism) is having your clothes off, for just about any purpose or no purpose, and those who think more is involved. Officially, the old INF statement certifies that more is involved. It’s general enough not to require people to do much or not to do certain things. There’s nothing in it about smoking, alcohol, meat, exercise, etc. However, subjects like those have been discussed by various nudist groups over the past hundred years, all under the consideration of health.

That’s where I think many people would agree: that nudism is about better health, mental and physical, and emotional and spiritual if you wish, without going into specifics. That doesn’t mean that better health is automatic when you remove your clothes, but that doing so with some understanding is an important component of good health, deeply considered, in the right context, i.e. with the right attitudes, whatever those are.

Morley Schloss – The Owner Of Sunsport Gardens Naturist Resort:

I think that “nudist” applies to anyone who takes part in or enjoys nude recreation.

In general, the terms nudist and naturist are interchangeable synonyms. However, for me, a naturist is a nudist with more.

A naturist is a nudist who feels at one with nature, who is ecologically sensitive. For me naturism involves a values system, while nudism is enjoying being nude with others.

Stephane Deschenes – Owner Of Bare Oaks Nudist Resort:

The short answer is no. Nudism / naturism is a philosophy and you have to accept at least some of its core principles (non-sexual nudity, acceptance of self & others, etc…). For example, streaking could be defined as nude recreation. But in their actions, a streaker is not necessarily accepting any of the naturist/nudist values. (They could be doing it because they have exhibitionist tendencies.) Similarly, swingers may do their activities nude but the nudity there is clearly for sexual purposes. Naturism/nudism is a mindset which means that while a person’s actions are important, the biggest defining characteristic is their motivation. For a longer answer see:

Chet Kresiak Publisher Of The Nudism And Naturism Daily News:

Unfortunately, we are stuck with the terms “nudist” and “naturist”, as used by AANR and The Naturist Society respectively. Lee Baxandall adopted the more European term “naturist” when he founded TNS in 1980 specifically to divide his organization from what was then the American Sunbathing Association.

Since then cooperation between the two foremost American organizations has been rare, often being at odds with each other even though their purposes seem to be essentially the same. Other organizations have adopted terms like “clothes-free” or “FKK” which only serve to further divide people on the basis of terminology.

While AANR tends to stress “nude recreation” and TNS promotes “body acceptance“, the idea of being without clothes in social situations remains at the heart of “nudist” philosophy. Whether or not people take off their clothes on beaches or hiking trails, in resorts or in their back yards, the benefits are essentially the same, that we become more comfortable and accepting of our own bodies, and the bodies of others.

Sometimes people take off their clothes in protest, such as at the World Naked Bike Ride, or for the sake of art, such as in the Spencer Tunick installations, or in the Fremont Solstice Parade, and sometimes they bare all just for fun, such as in the San Francisco Bare to Breakers event.

Ultimately it all comes down to body freedom, which is the single most unifying philosophy between all these seemingly divergent groups and events. I would like to see AANR, TNS, YNA and every other group adopt a central theme of “body freedom” as a symbol of unification and common purpose. You can achieve body freedom through nude recreation, artistic expression, social nudism, and political protest. Finding and expressing this common bond of “body freedom” can help to unite and heal the divisions we have between the organizations, and clarify the singular purpose we all have of liberating our minds and bodies.

So, when one is asked if they are a nudist or a naturist, they can simply respond that they are a body freedom advocate.

Mr. Sandy Of Rock Lodge Nudist Club:

First of all, I think being a nudist/naturist is a self-diagnosed condition. There is no precise check-list of attributes, and I can’t describe anyone else that way unless (s)he makes it obvious. Not too many years ago, any American who got naked for anything other than sex or showers would have been considered a nudist. (For simplicity, I’m sticking to Americans.) Now, college kids have naked parties, and some of them streak once a year wearing nothing but pumpkins on their heads; people go to Europe and undress appropriately at nude beaches; people go to all-over-body-painting parties; people do naked yoga; people are buck naked in the World Naked Bike Ride (OMG even in Philadelphia!); but neither they nor I would necessarily consider them nudists/naturists – they’re simply comfortable being naked with other naked people when that’s what the occasional situation calls for. (Most Europeans would consider that a totally normal and healthy attitude, not deserving of any label. I do too.)

I consider myself a nudist/naturist because the ability to be clothes-free, sky-clad, naked, is important to me. It doesn’t interfere with the textile segments of my life, but being a nudist/naturist is on the list of characteristics with which I would describe who I am. Will I drive extra miles to get to a nude beach rather than stop at a textile beach? Will I go to a good deal of trouble to get to a place or an event where I can feel the spiritual comfort of being naked with other naked people? Do I find myself thinking, in some textile circumstances, “Gee – it would be nice to be naked”? Will I support any nudist organization or event that helps make the point that social nudity is ok? Do I encourage people to give it a try? Am I conscious of being a healthier and happier person because of the inclusion of social nudity in my life? All these, and more, get “yes.” Is this obsession/compulsion? I don’t think so. Nudism/naturism doesn’t dominate my life – it’s simply one significant part of it.

So my own opinion (which I don’t lay on anyone else) is that there is, in fact, more to being a nudist/naturist than just taking part in, and/or enjoying, nude recreation. It’s a question of whether or not it’s important. How important? I don’t know. You decide.

Mr. Sandy

John Andersen Nude Recreation Advocate:

That’s a loaded question in part because the key words in the question can carry such a wide variety of meaning and connotation for different people. For many, even the choice of nudist vs naturist carries with it almost a religious fervor and like religion there are as many variants of belief but also many commonalities.

There’s also been a lot of discussion around the use of the word “recreation.” For some, sex is recreational so how does that impact the term “nude recreation”? Aside from the vagaries of the English language I see two parts to your question. One is, “What does nudism/naturism mean to me?” and the other is analogous to asking “If I visit a church/synagogue/temple does that make me an adherent to that particular religion?”.

In my opinion it’s perfectly alright to have a variety of opinions about what nudism/naturism means, and it’s perfectly alright to just visit without buying into whatever philosophy is being promoted as long as you aren’t a threat to the community.

I think the question we really have to grapple with is what defines a threat to the community aside from bad behavior in one’s presence and maybe that even varies with the local community. We can likely all agree that a pedophile represents a genuine threat, but other characteristics can vary significantly in terms of “threat factor” depending on the prevalent views of the community (as I know YNA is painfully aware of).

These issues aren’t unique to the nudist community, but are universal social issues which brings us full circle to the idea that nudists are just like everybody else, except they often prefer to be without clothes. Does that answer your question? Probably not, but hopefully it’s food for thought.

Dan, President of the Long Island Travasuns:

I go naked at Lighthouse Beach and at Travasuns events, but I do not think of myself as a nudist or a naturist. I got involved with the Travasuns because I liked the parties and the people and one thing led to another. Since becoming the president of the Travasuns, I joined AANR and TNS. That’s it.


We’d like to take a moment and once again thank everyone for their time and willingness to help us define the term “nudist.” All the above are, in my opinion, the most influential and vocal group of individuals. They are all supporters of YNA and most are participating affiliates of the YNA membership program. So PLEASE click on the links to their respective websites / blogs and do your best to visit their resorts and blogs often. They are all good people who have devoted much of their lives and time to promoting the ideals of nonsexual nude recreation, body acceptance, equal rights and social nudism. To that we owe them all a debt of gratitude and appreciation! Without your hard work and dedication we would not be able to keep doing what we are doing!

Lots of love to all of you from YNA!

So that wraps up our panel with these fine people, but now it’s you, the readers’, turn to weigh in! What do YOU think defines a nudist or naturist? Do you consider yourself a nudist / naturist and why or why not?

Melissa Dejanude Weighs in on Nudist vs Naturist

Nudist Vs Naturist – Is there really a difference?

My Opinion for the use of the terms…

Nudist Vs Naturist – The clothed minded world uses terms that describe the free world: nude, naked and undressed, erratically and synonymously. But in the debate between the terms “nudist” and “naturist“, we need to use our terms precisely and accurately; when describing participants in the clothes-free lifestyle, “naturist” should be the preferred term.

Both terms carry a mindset and by using either one, you agree with the mindset of the term. “Nudist” carries a negative connotation of a person who joins a colony who lives without clothes. A naturist, on the other hand, believes that clothes-free places have a purpose; that good, social nudity is to be so commonplace that there is no need for any location to be specifically dedicated as a naturist or clothes-free area, simply because the mindset behind the purpose for clothing needs to change. We (as naturists) should be working to make the whole world clothes-free just as Christians are commanded to make disciples of all nations; however, we should not give up the habit of meeting together at public clothes-free venues for they show how far we’ve come.

Nudist vs. Naturist

Nudist vs. Naturist

If we want the whole world to at least be exposed to freedom, we must not only congregate amongst ourselves in resorts, at conventions and on nude social networking sites. We must go out to the legislatures of various states, exercise our freedom where it is legal and mix with others. We not only have the freedom to be naturists, but also the responsibility to defend our beliefs. For if we can’t defend our beliefs, (beyond ‘it feels good’) we can’t hope for our beliefs to reach everyone effectively.

The same also is true when we turn to the terms “topfree” or “topless“. “Topfree” should be used because people, especially naturists, are free not lacking something. We are whole human beings without clothing. “Topless” has a sexual connotation, which is why this term needs to be avoided as often as the term “nudist”. One day, hopefully soon, clothed minded people will realize that the clothing made by man is not better than the clothing given by God.

Nudist Naturist and Articles about Nudism And Naturism By – Young Naturists And Young Nudists America YNA

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Category: Social Nudity Blogs, Nudism and Naturism

About the Author ()

Jordan Blum is a lifelong nudie and co-founder of Young Naturists America.
  • TomPine

    co-founder of The Naked Truth Naturists (since 2000), I thought I would add my
    comments to this fine cross-section of naturist thought.
    me, nudism/naturism/social nudity, whatever you wish to call it, is a deliberate act.
    Putting aside the reasons for it for a moment, I like to go naked, as often and
    as long as I possibly can, because society in general doesn’t do
    it. It’s an alternate lifestyle, if you will. Curiously, in a society
    (American, Canadian & European) where multiculturalism and diversity are
    celebrated (or at least talked about), a single person walking down a road
    naked can create an absolute furor.
    is merely a state of being, what we are without clothing. Though we layer all
    sorts of things onto it—investing it with so many subjective attributes—it
    remains, at its core, a state of being. Yes, I enjoy how it feels and I agree
    that we MUST hew to sensible rules of conduct, but I have made the deliberate choice
    to join in the naked community and fellowship of other naturists.
    I am
    someone many consider to be an oxymoron—a Christian
    naturist. In many minds, the two words are incompatible. I couldn’t
    disagree more. Nakedness is a state of being, who I am without clothing, so how
    can that be incompatible with what I believe? I have no choice to be as I am,
    so why is the sight of me without clothing something to be condemned? Forget
    the fact that, when we stand naked we expose ALL of our physical aspect to the
    view of others. We are not displaying anything unusual. Everyone on this planet
    of seven-plus billion souls is made on the same, basic model, the only real
    difference being gender.
     All of the controversy, all of the innuendo,
    all of the moral posturing, all of the just plain stupid proscriptions against
    simple human nudity are just window dressing. They all seek to cover up a
    basic, incontrovertible fact, that we are what we are. Clothing tries to, but
    always fails to deny that. Under as many layers of clothing as I choose to wear
    is the same naked body someone would see if they saw me without all that
    there are many other aspects of social nudity, both pro and con, but it’s all
    been added on. In whatever state we find people, we are often most known by our
    actions. Either dressed or naked, we act properly (by the standards and moral
    codes of our society) or we don’t—it has nothing to do with either state. Do
    naked people sometimes broach the rules of polite society? Yes. Do clothed
    people do the same? Of course. Therefore, I consider societal and moral
    standards based upon the wearing of clothing to be unnatural and artificial
    standards, for they seek to deny who we really are.
    me, though I primarily began participating in naturist venues out of a sense of
    enjoyment, I now consider being naked intrinsic to my personal beliefs. It’s
    who I am, who I wish to be, so much so that my wife and I chose to live in a
    naturist community. Yes, community. To us, it’s not a nudist park, camp, or
    resort—it’s a community of naked
    people who choose to live that way. Has it cost us? You bet, for not all our
    textile friends would wish to socialize with us, even clothed, at our home
    within the borders of our naked community. Does that make us sad? I can’t speak
    for my spouse, but no, it doesn’t. I have no control over the attitudes of
    others, but I do have control over where I live and I choose here.
    the face of it, using terms like nudism, naturism, or social nudity are merely
    a shorthand for the purposes of description. I personally believe the world
    would be a far better place if we stopped considering such terms as accurate,
    for they don’t illuminate a description of our naked ideal. In my ideal world, we would see naked and clothed people coexisting
    side-by-side, their outward state irrelevant. Why should it otherwise?

  • FynSpringBash

    Nice information, thanks for posting this.One correction, the picture of Morley at the top was not at a debate about nudism, but rather at the first town council meeting ever held at a nudist resort (back in 2007) at Sunsport Gardens. The story and that photo made national headlines. One council member refused to go because morley was going to be nude during the debate!

  • FynSpringBash

    Nice information, thanks for posting this.One correction, the picture of Morley at the top was not at a debate about nudism, but rather at the first town council meeting ever held at a nudist resort (back in 2007) at Sunsport Gardens. The story and that photo made national headlines. One council member refused to go because morley was going to be nude during the debate! <br> 

  • ErikJakobsen

    As Sandy said, there is no precise checklist (at least, there shouldn’t be) for what constitutes being a nudist/naturist. To begin with, a person really only needs to accept three basic ideas in order to be open to the idea of nudism: 1) that the wearing of clothing is not a natural state for the human body, 2) that nudity in and of itself is not sexual, and 3) that the human body comes in many different shapes and sizes, and being ashamed of one’s body is not necessary (and is, in fact, counterproductive) regardless of its features.
    From that point on, a person can really make their own path in the nudist/naturist community. In this way, nudism and naturism are no different from religion in that there are many variants of almost every major religion. While they may share some core beliefs, the actual practice of the religion can vary greatly. As another commenter said here, there will inevitably be people who call themselves nudists or naturists who really aren’t, and others who don’t call themselves nudists/naturists who actually are.
    The biggest challenge facing nudism/naturism is not exactly what we call ourselves, but how we welcome people into the community. This is particularly challenging in America since public nudity is illegal in most places. Resorts, clubs and legal nude beaches serve as our places of refuge, but not everyone has the ability to easily travel to those places. The three core concepts I mentioned above are not particularly difficult for most people to figure out. The question is, how do we get people to cross the bridge into the practice of nudism once they’ve gotten the idea of how it works?

    • ChetKresiak

      @ErikJakobsen Erik, actually, there are widely accepted definitions of nudism and naturism. 
      Cec Cinder writes the following in his book “The Nudist Idea”.
      <<<- Definition of nudism
      1. It must be a group activity. Solo nakedness, however pleasant, is not nudism.
      2. It must be mixed-sex. The YMCA swimming pool on Thursday night is not nudism.
      3. It must be complete. No “le minimums”, which subtly – or perhaps blatantly – contradict the entire nudist spirit.
      4. It must be social. Not religious fanatics emulating Adam and Eve.
      5. It must be self-conscious. Stone Age tribes going completely naked in the jungles of the Amazon or the highlands of New Guinea are not nudists. They just “are”.>>>I generally agree, but the “must be mixed-sex” seems a little restrictive, although I understand the concept, and accept that it does make nude recreation more complete. Cec also leaves out the generally accepted idea that nudism is socializing without expressing overt sexuality.But that’s nudism in a nutshell, and it’s basically how most people who claim to be nudists, or visit nudist resorts or clubs, tend to be. While events such as the World Naked Bike Ride, or the Spencer Tunick installations, embrace some of these elements, these are other examples of body freedom, and not nudism.It’s fine to reject labels and practice your own definition of whatever it is you do while nude, but there’s no question that nudism and naturism exist and are practiced in a similar way around the world.Like Stephane said, if this is defined to broadly, it becomes meaningless. This is why I suggested that we begin to embrace the more universal idea of body freedom, not to dilute the meaning of nudism, but to try and find some unification among various factions and practices. One can achieve body freedom through nudism, naturism, nude recreation, art, public events, etc.To be clear – I am not advocating any significant changes to the basic nudist idea, because it works for so many people. It’s just that we have to accept the fact that there is more than one way to achieve body freedom in an increasingly progressive society.

      • MrSandy

        Chet – I know that Cec Cinder is considered by many to be a guru of nudism, but I think that saying nudism “must” be anything is pissing in the wind, because people who consider themselves nudists will call themselves nudists regardless of what Cec or anyone else insists on. Definitions, however widely held, don’t obligate anyone, and anyway they change over time. If we are to observe the ASA-based principles which defined nudism and were widely observed in the 1950s and ’60s, nudists must not drink alcohol, must have absolutely no physical contact with each other, must not wear clothes except in bad weather, and so on. Times have changed.  ///  Any organization within the nudist world (e.g. AANR, TNS, Rock Lodge and, yes, Caliente or Hedonism) can establish its own principles and rules which are adhered to by its membership. But there is no world-wide organization called Nudism (with a capital N) expecting adherence by its membership to certain rules and principles established by its particular gurus. And, happily, there ain’t gonna be.  ///   I like the well-known aphorism that “nudists are just like everyone else except that we think clothes ought to be unnecessary”.  As you say, clothes are unnecessary for World Naked Bike Rides and for Spencer Tunick shoots. Why shouldn’t these be considered nudist activities? Why make a distinction between nudism and body freedom? What about being sky-clad? or being clothes-free? Aren’t they just different words for the same thing?  I’m sure there will always be attempted definitions, but they are never going to cover all the people who enjoy engaging in life naked without concern for labels.

        • ChetKresiak

          @MrSandy The word “nudism” has been hijacked numerous times over the years, so it’s no surprise that many people misunderstand the meaning of the term. And yes, meanings and definitions matter, otherwise we would not be able to convey understanding through language. You mention Caliente and Hedonism – those are not nudist venues because they stray from the nudist idea. I have nothing against such resorts offering adult nude recreation, but not everyone is looking for that sort of activity. There have to be distinctions, we use them in everyday life. You purchase tickets for a baseball game, you don’t expect to see football, yet they are both sports. Likewise, you go to a nudist resort, you should not be surprised when it turns out to be lifestyle, yet these are both ways to achieve a certain kind of body freedom. The ASA principles you mention are merely customs for the era in which they were initiated and not part of the actual definition of the word “nudism”, which really has not changed  significantly in over a century. Bottom line is that you can call it whatever you want, but calling an apple an orange doesn’t make it an orange.

        • Pseudonymasaurus

          @ChetKresiak  @MrSandy Apples and oranges are much easier to define and have much more widely understood and accepted meanings than nudism does. Were that not the case, you wouldn’t be able to ask nine different people what it means and get nine different answers.
          To go with the other analogy you made, maybe nudism is less like “baseball” and more like a “game”. Labeling something nudist doesn’t have to mean anything more specific than saying something is a game. And just like games can encompass everything from pro leagues to little leagues, spectator and participatory, and be any sport you can think of, nudism can also encompass a very wide range of activities and experiences.
          Which doesn’t mean that there are no distinctions between different types of nudist activities – clothing optional public beaches, the WNBR, YNA’s “Nude Night Out” events, Rock Lodge, Hedonism, nude yoga classes, nude art projects, etc all offer very different kinds of experiences. Not everyone will find all of those things appealing, but there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason that every nudist in the world should do or like the same things, or that a nudist who likes one kind of experience can’t also like other kinds of experiences.
          In any case, I agree with MrSandy. You’re just not going to stop people or venues or events from using the word “nudist” even if they don’t meet the traditional definition. So we’re going to have to find a better way to educate about the differences between these things than attempting to police the usage of a single word.

        • ChetKresiak

          @Pseudonymasaurus  @MrSandy It’s absurd to claim that people are attempting to “police” the usage of a single word. Words have meanings, that’s why we have dictionaries, and these meanings must be clear so that we can understand what we are saying to each other.This is one of the reasons Lee Baxandall settled upon the more European word “naturist” when he sought to separate himself from the ASA. All he did was to muddy the waters even further, since most people tend to think that “naturist” is merely a euphemism for “nudist”, when, in fact, there are differences.Yes, it’s difficult to stop people from misusing the word, but that doesn’t cause the meaning of “nudist” to change. People who have children who like to run around naked call them “little nudists”. Streakers are often referred to as “nudists”.  And, most unfortunately, pedophiles or pederasts who coerce children into playing nude games are referred to in the media as “nudists”.But all of these don’t change the meaning of the word. The WNBR is not a nudist event, and Hedonism is not a nudist resort, even though nudists might be present.Ignorance of the definition is not a reason to change the meaning of the word.

      • ErikJakobsen

        @ChetKresiak I would argue, however, that two of Cinder’s points are very problematic for nudism as a whole. First, that it must be a group activity – many nudists start out as “solo practicioners”, before ever attendending a nude resort or beach. What kind of message does it send to someone who is exploring nudism if we say “unless you’re doing this with other people, you’re not really a nudist”. That’s like saying you can’t call yourself a fan of a particular band unless you’ve been to one of their concerts. We could probably all agree that practicing nudism with other people is a much deeper and fulfilling experience, and something that we should encourage and facilitate.
        Also insisting (at least up-front) that the nudity be complete also unnessarily closes doors on the nude-curious. Again, we could probably agree that simple topless sunbathing is not exactly nudism, but many a female nudist started her journey towards nudism this way.
        I agree it’s not useful to define something like nudism too broadly, but I think it’s equally unproductive to define it too narrowly. Trying to assign one a single label to a large enough group of people will always be difficult, because at some point you’re going to start to have a certain portion of the group that doesn’t fit neatly inside the box.

        • ErikJakobsen

           I mostly agree with you, but if part of our “job” as nudists is to positively promote nudism with the goal of getting more people to practice it, then I think we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss certain nude activities that may not fall under what we generally consider to be nudism.
          We’re basically talking about two different “areas” of behavior that sometimes get wrongly put into the nudism “box” – the “not nude enough” behavior at the lower end of the spectrum, and the “beyond nudity” behavior (hedonism, swinging, etc) at the upper end.
          Defining that upper end of the spectrum is far more useful, since that’s where a lot of the hang-ups and outright misconceptions about nudism live.
          But strictly defining the lower end risks closing some gateways to nudism. Sure, nudism is best practiced socially. But given how the practice of social nudism is severely restricted to very specific locations (at least in the U.S.), it seems to me like we unfairly penalize penalize those who WOULD practice socially if they could.

        • ChetKresiak

          @ErikJakobsen I simply fail to see how someone is penalized by a word. Anyone who wants to practice social nudism can do it, there are tons of clubs, both landed and non-landed, across the US. Or anyone can start their own club. Nobody owns social nudism, and nobody is prohibited from practicing it. You can even set your own rules. But all of this still does not change the meaning of the word “nudism”, it is what it is.

        • ChetKresiak

          @ErikJakobsen Nudism is a social practice, always has been. Anyone can be nude by themselves, and generally nearly everybody is nude in the bath or shower. That just makes you naked. The term “home nudist” is thrown about a lot, but anyone unwilling to be nude among others is still harboring body issues and/or shame. Nudism is about overcoming those issues.Topless, or topfree, is not nude, otherwise any male walking around without a shirt would be a nudist. Women’s topfreedom is an important issue, but it’s more about equality in our society than it is about nudism.The word “nudism” is not narrowly defined, it is merely defined. This is why I advocate wide use of the term “body freedom” to cover all these issues which are related to nudism, but are not nudism. There are many ways to achieve body freedom, and one way is through nudism, or naturism.

  • phillywms

    I am not a big fan of labels and have always been uncomfortable pigeon-holing myself into one category or another, whether it be related to politics, religion or anything else.  To me, that’s independence, the ability to change as I continue to learn and experience life.  There is so little in this world that is black & white.  And yet, I do believe there are times when “labels” (or “movements”) are necessary to galvanize humans to work together for a common cause, to effect change beyond personal ideology or practice.  After all, without some social structure, we’d have anarchy.  
    I am reminded of a long-seated political debate I’ve had with a friend.  His opinion is that since he disagrees with American politics overall, he’s better off not participating at all.  He believes that everyone should be free to fend for their own.  Ideally, yes, that sounds great, but in our society, it’s just not realistic.  So ultimately, not participating is just being lazy and ultimately maintains the status quo.  I think it gets to the heart somewhat of the ensuing debate.  
    The reality is that we live in a textile-based, consumer world.  And this consumer world of ours is very much dictated by the clothes we wear.  These clothes signal to others who we are, right or wrong, before we even speak.  Not only that, they are outward expressions of our personalities and feelings.  We dress differently according to the occasion.  In short, clothing provides power to the wearer and the beholder.  And when you strip clothes away from a person, that particular power is also stripped away.  Social nudity, then, becomes a great equalizer and creates a new foundation on which to build human relationships.
    The first level then is simply allowing oneself to be nude in front of others and allowing others the same freedom.  It’s a very individualistic concept and I suppose if I had to label this phenomenon on a surface level, I would call it “nudism.”  I think the conversation for many starts and stops here, which is fine, especially because there is so much work to be done to ensure these rights.  However, because it is so individualistic, I do think that’s where a lot of organizations have faltered in developing a cohesive movement.
    However, if you go beyond “rights and freedoms” and begin to fathom what this new foundation of “equality” can mean, then the label nudism seems too simple, too “inactive” like my friend who enjoys his freedom to vote but doesn’t choose to exercise that freedom or give it meaning.  For me, social nudity is the vehicle to better understand myself and others, to celebrate individuality and imperfections.  It’s an opportunity to feel closer to nature.  Without clothes, naked, I see how I consume and I react, hopefully in a way that makes things better.  It’s a more collective approach that necessitates group action.  I tend to label this “naturism,” simply because it doesn’t begin and end with nudity.
    I realize that this conversation is fraught with contradictions, but I think it’s a much needed conversation, if true change is expected.  Thanks to YNA for reaching out to such a great group of individuals to start it!

    • Stephane Deschenes

      @phillywms A well reasoned differentiation of nudist versus naturist which generally follows the European views of those two terms. However, in North America, the terms have become framed by The Naturist Society (TNS) and the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). Historically, the former was more beach-oriented and its members preferred the naturist label. The latter was more focused on clubs/resorts and used the term nudist. Over the decades, people in North America took one or the other label based on their allegiance.  
      Labels are useful because they allow us to discriminate. When I visit a club, I like to know what type of club they are. Unfortunately, the labels in this movement are not specific enough in most cases. Clubs/resorts seem to have trouble defining themselves.
      I think part of the problem is that we are trying to be too black and white about it. The reality is that it is more of a scale. I call the opposite ends of it “recreational naturist” and “ethical naturist”. But you could just as easily call it recreational nudist and ethical nudist. Neither end is good or bad. They’re just different ways of looking at the movement. A more complete definition is here:

      • ChetKresiak

        @Stephane Deschenes  @phillywms The problem with clubs and resorts not correctly defining themselves lies within the stated philosophies of the national organizations, which still cling to the “one size fits all” philosophies of nudism and naturism. For example, AANR has several clubs which do not admit children, another which markets to swinger and erotic fetish groups, and another which is traditional nudism by day, and swinger friendly at night, yet there is no differentiation between any these clubs on the AANR website. If clubs do not represent themselves as anything other than “wholesome”, they can lose their charters, so there is a lot of surreptitious wrangling going on. Ratings systems have worked for movies over the past several decades, so why not resorts offering nude recreation? This is not redefining nudism, it’s merely instilling some honesty into the discussion. In fact, I think that being open about many of these clubs actually strengthens traditional nudism, as practiced at Bare Oaks Park, for example, because it allows that beneficial discrimination and specificity needed in order to select the type of club or resort which is suitable with individual needs and expectations.

  • Pseudonymasaurus

    FWIW, I think Mr. Sandy got it right with his first sentence. You’re a nudist if you identify as a nudist; you’re not if you don’t.
    I don’t think it’s possible to construct a definition that doesn’t exclude some people who consider themselves nudists, or include some people who don’t. Nudists are a community and culture. By its nature constantly evolving and pretty nebulous to begin with. Every culture has its common elements, but it also has its contradictions, and nudists are no different.
    There’s a danger in truing to define it too precisely. As every community grows it becomes more diverse, and there’s an impulse among some for purity, to define in-groups and out-groups. IE, you’re only a nudist if you do or think this, you’re not a real nudist if you do or think that.
    In a community as small as this, that’s pretty toxic. Yet you see it all the time, in some of the antipathy directed at YNA, among certain clubs towards certain aspects of youth culture, and some of the squabbling about what the national organizations are or aren’t doing. In the end this sort of in-fighting undermines everyone’s efforts and turns off or alienates potential supporters. So IMHO there’s a very real need to define it as broadly as possible, to have an “all of the above” attitude and strive for inclusion rather than exclusion.

    • Stephane Deschenes

      @Pseudonymasaurus While I appreciate the sentiment about being inclusive, the danger is defining a movement too broadly is that it becomes meaningless.

      • Pseudonymasaurus

        @Stephane Deschenes 
        I disagree, I don’t think that’s a danger at all. If we got to the point where it was so broad that everyone was calling themselves a nudist and the word truly didn’t denote anything unusual I think we’d call that “victory”. But you just can’t get from here to there as long as people are trying to police usage of the term and dividing the world into “real” nudists and not.

  • Krucifix

    Something I have noticed about naturism and nudism, it is very commercialized.
    We say we want to be free from the textile world, to be free in our bodies. And yet, I see more and more clubs/resorts popping up, for a fee.
    Where are the true communities?
    I understand that we all have bills, things as food, rent, and such. But do we in everyday life pay to just live in a neighborhood? (We might pay a higher or lower rent that reflects the neighborhood, yes, but not just to live and enjoy the neighborhood.)
    Do you normally pay extra fees just to have a grocery store nearby?
    It has become too commercialized. We need a community that is not “taxing” us because we wish to live without textiles. You wind up paying more going to some resort/club/cruise than you would for the textiles your avoiding.
    This needs to stop.
    I long for the day to be in a climate and atmosphere where it has reduced textiles, and not have to be taxed deeply for my choice of living free from the constraints.Maybe if enough people pool their resources, we could have such a place.

    • ChetKresiak

      @Krucifix If you put commercial nudist resorts and campgrounds out of business, there will be very few places for practicing social nudism outside the home, and a few clothing-optional beaches. Let me tell you, most of these “for a fee” clubs are operating on a shoestring, and charging as little as possible just to get by. While nude recreation is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry, in the form of upscale resorts and cruses, here in the United States there is no appreciable growth in private clubs. Both AANR and TNS have been losing members year after year.And yes, I pay a fee every time I purchase something at the grocery store, and I spend a hell of a lot more on food and household goods every year than I do on nude recreation.If you want admission to a nudist club to be free, open your own so you don’t have to charge yourself.The idea of everyone pooling their resources is exactly what happens today at nudist clubs which are cooperatives. Join one and pool your resources, and be prepared to clean toilets, rake leaves, and do other general maintenance.So basically, I am saying that your response here makes absolutely no sense.

      • Krucifix

        @ChetKresiak It does make sense. In my neighborhood, I do not clean the toilets at the grocery store or gas station. But, it is still a community (just not an accepting one of the human form as it is).
        You hear others talk of “social nudism”, but nothing about talk on “social textileism” (if that is even a word).
        I do not consider my a nudist, naturist or anything like that, I am human, with labeling myself to one thing or another. If I am nude, I am because I feel the desire to be free. (As I am sure most are.)
        It is difficult to “un-brainwash” others from this concept of labeling ones self. But just like those who were addicted to the textile/fasion world and are now active nudist/naturist, your still applying a label to yourself. Your human.
        Just my opinion though.
        Oh, and AANR and TNS have also been loosing members, because some have discovered that they need not to be a part of some elite/special club/association to be who they are.

        • Stephane Deschenes

          @Krucifix  @ChetKresiak In my opinion, AANR & TNS (and most other naturist/nudist organizations) have been losing members for simple commercial reasons: (1) You don’t need those organizations to find out about nudism/naturism anymore because there is more free information on the internet than anyone can possibly absorb. (2) Clubs/resorts no longer require membership in an organization in order to enter.Most people are simple consumers of naturism/nudism so if they don’t see any value in membership, they don’t join.Clubs/resorts are a different story. Ultimately, naturism is practiced in a physical location so there will always be a need as long as people want to be naturists/nudists. Some are growing and others are shrinking. I’ve seen a lot of cooperative groups shrink in the last few decades. (not just in naturism/nudism either)  People just don’t have the time or inclination to volunteer anymore. They would rather pay for facilities and services.In Toronto, people can use the nude beach downtown for free. They don’t have to volunteer or join anything. All they have to do is pay a few dollars for the ferry ride over. Yet each year, thousands chose to pay a much higher fee to visit Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park. I’m sure there are many reasons but what I hear most commonly is that they prefer the managed environment and the enhanced facilities. They have a much cheaper alternative. But they don’t mind paying more because they understand that all those amenities and services cost money to maintain.

        • Stephane Deschenes

          @Krucifix  @ChetKresiak 
          In my opinion, AANR & TNS (and most other naturist/nudist organizations) have been losing members for simple commercial reasons: 
          (1) You don’t need those organizations to find out about nudism/naturism anymore because there is more free information on the internet than anyone can possibly absorb. 
          (2) Clubs/resorts no longer require membership in an organization in order to enter.
          Most people are simple consumers of naturism/nudism so if they don’t see any value in membership, they don’t join.
          Clubs/resorts are a different story. Ultimately, naturism is practiced in a physical location so there will always be a need as long as people want to be naturists/nudists. Some are growing and others are shrinking. I’ve seen a lot of cooperative groups shrink in the last few decades. (not just in naturism/nudism either)  People just don’t have the time or inclination to volunteer anymore. They would rather pay for facilities and services.
          In Toronto, people can use the nude beach downtown for free. They don’t have to volunteer or join anything. All they have to do is pay a few dollars for the ferry ride over. Yet each year, thousands chose to pay a much higher fee to visit Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park. I’m sure there are many reasons but what I hear most commonly is that they prefer the managed environment and the enhanced facilities. They have a much cheaper alternative. But they don’t mind paying more because they understand that all those amenities and services cost money to maintain.

        • ChetKresiak

          @Krucifix A gas station is not a community, it’s a commercial enterprise. If you use the toilets without purchasing gas or other service, you are a leech.I don’t see how the existence of nudist clubs or organizations get in the way of your “desire to be free”. Be nude all you want whenever you want.See Stephane’s answer about why people choose to go to private clubs. Nobody is forcing you to go anywhere. Just start your own club, any people do exactly that. Nobody is stopping you.

    • All-Nudist

      @Krucifix Actually Krucifix, yes you do pay extra to have a grocery store nearby; they’re called ‘convenience stores’ and everything costs a LOT more.  Nudists are free to find some secluded place to hide from the law and oglers; nothing’s stopping them.  However, if they’d like a swimming pool, food, water, camping, electricity (wi-fi?) and a community of others to share it with, they’re going to have to pay for it just like at any other camping venue or resort, or any other pastime for that matter..Those camps, by the way, often began their lives by people pooling resources to build them, as you suggest; that’s why folks are so protective of them.  They’ve invested a lot and still are working to make a place just the way they want it, and sometimes are resistant to change, not surprisingly..There are only so many ‘natural’ places to be safely and legally nude and until public nudity laws change a lot, people are going to have to go to places set aside for nudism, and that’s going to cost money.

  • MrSandy

    It was fun writing this.  Am I a nudist/naturist? Well yeah…DUH!  But I had never asked myself what that meant.

  • Paul_Rapoport

    Chet’s response touches on something important: the “freedom” aspect of this subject. It is, nonetheless, more American than it may seem, probably connected to notions going back to the constitution. Mark Storey, one of the greatest American naturists, has written convincingly about this, pointing out also that other nationalities may have emphasized still different connections to social nudity: equality, for example.
    I still think of individual and political freedom and equality as subcategories of health, but health widely considered and definitely mutlifarious. In other words, better health may involve much more than what we narrowly may think of as mental and physical as related to the individual. In the realm of national health, for example, it’s clear that freedom and equality play a large role.Naturism may therefore be uniquely positioned to play a significant role on many levels.