Teenage Naturist Issues And Education Teens About Sexting, Nudity And Naturism
Nudist Teens Issues:
Teenage Naturist – As I was listening to an online broadcast from a European radio station today, I heard a report about a new picture-sharing app called Snapchat. This app allows users to send messages (including pictures) which self-delete within a time period specified by the sender – usually a few seconds.
Snapchat was initially considered to be something of a solution to the issue of “sexting,” where young people take nude photos of themselves to send to someone, only to have the photos inadvertently forwarded to others. Since the messages on Snapchat can’t be saved or forwarded, the logic goes, discretion is preserved.
Unfortunately, Snapchat really offers no such solution. The Achilles Heel of the service is that nothing prevents the recipient from photographing their communication device’s screen with another camera in another device before the message self-deletes.
My intention here, however, is not to write a review of Snapchat. But the way that some young people are using their camera-enabled phones and other devices in conjunction with services like Snapchat illustrates a particularly difficult challenge for the naturist movement – how to educate teenagers about naturism.
When discussing nudism and naturism, we don’t talk about (or to) nudist teens very much. We talk a lot about how many naturists are of an older generation, and there is an urgent need to get younger people involved. We talk about very young children, and are generally in agreement that naturism is not harmful to them in any way. But we don’t talk about teenagers – specifically those who are 13 to 17 years of age.
A documentary like My Daughter the Teenage Nudist is about as close as we’ve gotten. While the film is good and generally portrays naturism in a positive light for young people, it is important to note that the people in the film – not the least of which is the teenage daughter mentioned in the title – are 18 years or older, which makes them legally adults almost everywhere in the world.
“Legally” is the key word here, because I believe it’s the key to understanding why we don’t specifically address naturism for teenagers. Since nudity is so widely equated with sex, we know we can start getting into a problem area once we begin to mix the two below the age of 18. But in today’s society people jump to the conclusion that that if an individual is nude anywhere near a person below a certain age who is not their child, then that individual is guilty of engaging in sexual acts with a minor until proven innocent.
So does this mean that we shouldn’t talk about teenagers and naturism? Or that we shouldn’t talk TO them about it? I hope not. We know what the alternative is. The misunderstanding and outright persecution of nudity, often tied in with slut-shaming, among teenagers has led to bullying and suicide.
There was the recent case of Amanda Todd who was exploited, blackmailed and shunned by her peers for showing her breasts on a webcam. We need to figure out a way to address this age group regarding the healthy expression of naturism.
To begin this discussion, I think it is important to understand two things (which most naturists are likely to agree with). The first is that young people are capable of understanding that nudity can be non-sexual. The second is that we should take issue with the term “sexting” – at least in part. Taking a nude photo of oneself and sending it to someone else does not have to be sexual in nature.
I recall very clearly that I understood the difference between sexual and nonsexual nudity by the time I was in my early teens, and that was before the internet. Many other naturists have said the same. I also know that if I’d had access to a modern-day smartphone or digital camera, I probably would have taken photos of myself nude. Would I have sent them to anyone? The 30-something me says no, but remembering the 14-year-old me…well, who knows?
And now we have this great digital research and communication tool called the internet, which spans the world and seems to contain quite literally everything anyone would want to know about any possible subject. If only the internet had existed when I was 13 – my mind reels at the possibility of having been able to figure out what naturism is and connect with other naturists much earlier than I did.
The problem today, however, is that the phrase “nude teenager” and sometimes even “Naturist Teen” is internet-speak for “child pornography.”
Typing the phrases “nudism questions for teenagers” or “naturism for teenagers” – or any other phrase containing variants of the words “nude” and “teenager” – into Google will return plenty of search results, but nothing close to what we would consider good information about naturism.
Access to electronic communication devices with built-in cameras and photo services such as Snapchat, therefore, provide teenagers with what for many of them is likely their only outlet to engage in nude behavior.
Assuming they did not grow up in a nudist family (which applies to most teenagers), any given teenager probably lacks the ability to go where most naturists congregate – private resorts and legal nude beaches. For one thing, most private naturist resorts will not admit unaccompanied minors for various reasons. Also, most teenagers under the age of 16 can’t drive. And those teenagers who can drive may not have a great deal of time to get to and spend time at a nude beach – that is, if there is even one located nearby.
If they can somehow get to a publicly-accessible nude area, they may not (and probably should not) go alone. This brings up the idea of trying to talk about naturism with friends in order to find a partner to go with. Most teens probably find this idea frightening as well, and given the stigma of being a naturist, they likely don’t know of a relative or friend who could accompany them either.
So what are we naturists to do? It’s a shame that we are not addressing this age group. They are going through a critical period in their physical and emotional development, in which they are forming a lot of opinions about their bodies – many of which will last for decades to come. We know that some of these teenagers will eventually become practicing nudists and naturists. They are the future of the movement, but right now they are being told that nudity is bad. And the spreading of nude photos via “sexting” is not helping the issue.
It seems to me that there is a huge information vacuum that needs to be filled. If there are good naturism resources specifically for teenagers out there somewhere, I haven’t been able to find them. One action item I would propose is assembling a free downloadable guide to naturism specifically for teens, giving some outlines as to what they can and can’t do (or shouldn’t do). It could also provide links to good blogs and web sites that positively portray naturism, which would help teens avoid the dense internet forest consisting of porn sites that masquerade as naturism / nudism sites.
I don’t really have any answers beyond that. The main purpose of this blog posting is to get the discussion started.
What do you think? What, if anything, can we do to educate teenagers about naturism?
This article about education a naturist teens was published by – Young Naturists And Nudists America