Interview with Gloria of AANR East
AANR East: Taking Social Nudity into the Future with a New Approach
It came to my attention that AANR-East is changing their approach. So with that in mind, I reached out to Gloria who is the person spearheading this new endeavor. Let’s find out more about Gloria and the new AANR-East initiative!
How long have you been a nudist?
Now, if I tell you how long I have been a nudist I will be giving away my age! But that is OK with me because I am OK with ME. So with that said…. I have been a nudist for 38 years and have loved every minute of it.
When did you actually become a nudist?
I became a closet nudist, if I might use that term, when I was 18 and in college. But my love for social nudity began much earlier.
When I was a child, I loved skinny dipping. I was actually allowed to go skinny dipping as long as I did so at night. At the time, I thought it was strange that it was OK at night but not during the day… But since I was allowed to go, I never questioned it.
When I was about 26 years old, I went to my first nudist club in Pennsylvania. To be perfectly honest, I was scared to death! I had the same inhibitions that most women do. I had my share of insecurities about the way I looked and was afraid of what other people might think or say.
What was the most difficult part of your first nudist experience?
The worst part of that first experience was removing my shorts. I sat at a picnic table for at least an hour, talking with a few people that were nude. But I still couldn’t bring myself to take everything off – I felt terrified at the thought of removing my bottoms.
Finally, I got a rush of courage and decided that it is now or never! I stood up, got completely undressed and walked down to the pool area. I sat in a lounge chair by the pool and slowly began to feel more comfortable (not to mention really hot while I was sitting and baking in the sun).
Then, I finally got the courage to stand up. I made my way towards the pool, all the while trying to make it look like I didn’t notice all the other people that were there. That first moment, as I entered the water, I knew that being a nudist was going to be for ME!
How long have you been active in the nudist movement?
It is difficult for me to say exactly how long I have been active in the nudist movement. For a long time I didn’t even see it as a movement. I was going to clubs and having a great time but never considered the aspects of WHY I was allowed to be a nudist just as long as I was behind those gates.
When I became a director for AANR-East (quite a few years back) I realized that we needed to change. I couldn’t pinpoint the specifics at the time, but there didn’t seem to be much cohesiveness to what we were doing.
About 6 years ago, I ran again for a director’s position. This time I was much more aware of what I believed needed to happen in order to change the opinions of the world around us.
About two years ago, I came to the realization that a major overhaul was needed if we want to continue being around. Therefore I began, with the aid of a few great people from AANR-East, to develop a new strategic plan to make that happen.
So to answer your question, I have been somewhat active approximately 10 years now, and very active for the last six.
We believe that nudism is just about the nudity while naturism is about a certain value system. What are your thoughts on this issue?
As you know, naturism is a philosophy that dates back to the 19th century. It is one of health and fitness through the concept of returning to nature. In Germany it is called the “free body culture” / FKK.
Nudism is about the nudity. But it is, in my opinion, much more than just being nude. Nudists are able to experience and enjoy body freedom by accepting our own physical appearance and we reject the mainstream view that nudity and sexuality are one and the same. We (those of us who consider ourselves nudists) must be accepting of people. Body types, sexual orientations, religions and so forth are far less important than the essence of who each person is.
I believe that defining the terms is important. It is a goal that needs to be addressed and accepted by a vast majority of people who enjoy being clothes free. (I hate the word “lifestyle.”) Defining the terms will help identify who we really are and what we are about.
In today’s society, nudity and the naked body is quickly associated with sex. As nudists, we must actively challenge these notions and work together to define our terms and goals. The ambiguity of the terms makes it very difficult to defend why we choose to be nudists.
Personal aesthetics and sexual appeal are key factors in the mainstream cultural norm. Therefore, I believe, that as nudists, we must rise above the superficial and demonstrate to the world that we can live openly without fear of oppressive conformity while having the ability to accept people for who they are and judge them based on how they behave rather than what they look like.
We recently posted an article about nudist clothing (the lingerie article). What are your thoughts on the subject?
I believe that lingerie is totally unacceptable. Women in society feel it is necessary to wear something to be attractive or feel sexy. Women have been taught that their social status is based mostly on what they wear and how they look. This is why girls feel overwhelming pressure to be attractive, to be perfect.
Since we are nudists, I feel that such attire should not be allowed at any nudist venue. We should be raising the bar and not feel the need to accessorize in order to feel good about ourselves. That is what acceptance is about.
Body acceptance and self-worth allows women to find freedom. It allows them to break away from the oppressive cultural norms that have dictated our lives for years. Being a nudist allows women to accept themselves as human beings for who they truly are.
On a side note, I don’t think it makes sense going to a nudist location just to wear clothing. There are enough and even more places where people can go and enjoy being clothed. Don’t you agree?
What is the relationship between AANR-National and AANR-East?
AANR-East is a region within AANR. While they are two separate entities, we are part of the national association. The actual relationship between AANR and all the regions vary for a variety of reasons. Basically, AANR sets the ruling documents (by-laws and procedures) which the regions use to set their own by-laws and procedures, however if there are any discerning differences, then the AANR ruling documents take precedence. That said, all regions have a lot of free will to act in the best interest of their region.
AANR National is predominantly a vendor-driven organization (by vendor-driven, I mean selling memberships). AANR-East believes that we should be more of a movement and as such, we set our goals and objectives based on that notion.
Our own members lack the understanding of the nudist movement, its history, missions and achievements. AANR-East believes that it should not be about selling memberships. By focusing on nudist issues, it does away with the mindset of “what does AANR for me.”
Becoming a movement driven organization affords us the opportunity to focus on information and activism. By becoming an educational and issue driven organization, we enable our members to be proud of their nudist practices and beliefs. AANR-East believes that we can contribute to social change by promoting body acceptance through social nudity.
While AANR is primarily vendor-driven, I personally believe that most of the top officials, committee chairs and trustees all want what will best serve social nudity and nudists.
YNA gets a ton of love from AANR’s regional groups but AANR National is not that fond of YNA. Do you know why?
I do not know why the relationship between YNA and AANR is not strong. I can however, make an educated guess that it is simply a matter of communication. Communication involves many aspects and one of those aspects is the ability to listen. Sadly, many people are not good at communicating or listening. But when the intentions are pure then all the conflicts can be resolved. That said, it takes two equally devoted partners to work out differences.
Recently we participated in a young nudist meeting. YNA had the only current group leaders in attendance. Other group leaders either couldn’t go or boycotted the meeting, and due to the storm TNS was unable to attend. Since the “summit” we have not heard of any developments. Can you tell us if AANR (National or East) are working on expanding their following to younger people?
I am aware of the summit meeting that was held at White Tail Resort in Virginia. But I am not aware of any results or continuations of the meeting, as I was not tasked with overseeing it.
As one of 8 directors for AANR-East I am team leader for many different projects. These projects consume a great deal of my time and therefore I try to focus on the tasks I was given. Not because I have no interest, but because there is only so much one “older than dirt” brain can consume.
Having said that, one of the AANR-East goals is to involve young people in every way possible. Since we are all nudists, we should all share a common bond, core beliefs and values. If we are to remain strong we must build sustainable relationships that will be there after people my age are no longer around.
We hear AANR-East has been working on an exciting new approach. Would you be willing to share this new approach with us?
Yes! Over the last two years, a small team of people has been involved in developing a new Strategic Plan for AANR-East. It is has been a long process as we examined where we were, where we are and where we would like to be.
It was determined that we must stop being a vendor-driven model and become a movement (as our forefathers developed originally).
The Eastern Sunbathing Association (or ESA as it was informally called) came about due to some very forward thinking people. Somewhere along the way we slowly drifted away from the thought processes of our forefathers.
AANR-East is a political and cultural movement promoting and supporting social nudity. We have been, and will continue to live, plan and work together. Our beliefs challenge many assumptions of the world around us. These include presuppositions about human sexuality, social life, privacy, transparency and morality. Our predecessors worked and fought for the privileges nudists enjoy today. But the struggle is still far from over for our nudist way of life.
Our mission statement clearly tells everyone what we as AANR-East will do. But our Guiding Vision is the force that will drive us into the future of social nudity.
Here are the main thoughts and ideas that will be guiding AANR-East:
We envision AANR-East to provide settings where people can expect harmony, respect and freedom:
– Harmony involves the recognition that movements benefit from clear and tangible missions / goals.
– Respect involves holding all people in high esteem.
– Freedom means that all persons are at liberty to make choices.
Our mission is: “To promote and support societal acceptance of social nudity in our region”
We recognize that social nudity challenges current social views and values as they pertain to the human body. These norms include erroneous myths, prejudices and preconceptions. These issues stand in the way of greater interpersonal understanding, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others.
These social norms are unfortunately reinforced by restrictive laws, political barriers, conformist opinion and massive textile advertising efforts. Our movement actively challenges these patterns of misconception and restriction.
We are also aware of the sexual innuendos associated with nudity. We will challenge these issues by bringing our sexuality out into the open. By talking about sex and sexuality and the power of these topics to intimidate will be greatly diminished.
Nudists can control their own sexuality and so can others. Through this understanding, nudists lose the fears of their bodies that are associated with sexuality.
Our Guiding Vision points the way to the future we desire. Our Mission Statement clarifies what business we are in. Our Strategic Intent clarifies what AANR-East MUST accomplish in order to realize the Guiding Vision and to fulfill our Mission.
Our Strategic Intent is to: “Make Social Nudity Cool”
The Strategic Intent provides a specific point of view of our future aspirations. It conveys a sense of direction, provides an opportunity to explore new possibilities and stimulate a sense of discovery.
This is a very brief overview of our new future. It provides a clear understanding and one that I am committed to fulfilling in order to propel AANR-East forward.
Thanks Gloria! By the way, as part of their new goal to “make social nudity cool,” AANR East is one of the sponsors of the upcoming Naked Painting Party!