The Misconceptions of Naturism, What we Know Now

One of our very first blog posts, which we wrote almost 5 years ago, was called “The Misconceptions of Naturism“. It quickly became a cornerstone article and set the path for what Naked Wanderings would become. We would answer the questions that people often have about naturism. We would inspire others to give it a try and remove the taboo by tackling the misconceptions.

 

Today, we believe that we can say that we have much more experience than we had back in the day. We’ve been visiting so many naturist places in so many different countries. And we’ve met so many naturists, all with different stories, ideas, and visions. So, we wondered how many of the misconceptions that we defined back in the day are still standing in our more experienced view.

Naturism and sex, the everlasting conflict

During our recent appearance on the Elaine Show in Ireland, we were asked about the misconceptions around naturism and the first thing that came out of our mouths was the untrue relation to sex. From the moment we said it, we wished that we had said something different. Something less obvious. Something more true.

 

Maybe it’s because we’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe lately, but we get the feeling that the misunderstanding that naturism is something sexual is firmly decreasing. This TV interview (and many others we’ve done in the past) is probably the best proof. If the producers of the show had thought that naturism is some sort of sexual fetish, would they invite us to a show that will be broadcasted at 3 PM on national TV?

 

More and more, we’re starting to believe that the “naturism is sexual” idea is not something that concerns most non-naturists, but actually something that’s holding back the existing naturist to talk about their way of living. We fear that others will judge us for something we are not, while many others already know the truth. In some cases, we even get the feeling that it’s something we hide behind, to justify to ourselves that we don’t talk about naturism. “They won’t understand, so why bother…”.

Naturism and sex, the new dilemma

The fact that we believe that many people don’t automatically link naturism with sex is something from recent years and it’s definitely true that this stigma did really exist for many decades. It has been the battle cry of many naturist organizations: “Naturism is non-sexual!”

 

Every naturist resort, club, and organization did their very best to remove every possible link between social nudity and sex. To every extend. And to us, it sometimes starts to feel like we’re going past the tipping point and are heading in another wrong direction.

 

We get this idea from the many messages that we receive from first-time naturists, asking questions like “will I be allowed to kiss my partner?”, “to hold hands?”, or “to rub each other’s backs with sunscreen?”. It feels like they have a very conservative idea of what naturism really is, and we find it pretty inspiring that they still want to give it a try.

 

We’ll need to be careful in the future that we don’t create the misconception that naturism is asexual. That naturists don’t have sex at all or can’t get aroused from the sight of a beautiful person. We’ve always found it hard to describe the difference between non-sexual and asexual until a resort owner once said: “Other than being naked, don’t do anything here that you wouldn’t do in the Hilton or the Marriott”. That’s exactly it. People don’t question whether they’ll be allowed to rub each other’s backs at the Hilton. But they know that touching each other’s genitals in public areas is really not done. Same for the naturist resort.

Naturism is nothing for me

Another misconception in our early blog post was that “naturism is something for beautiful people”. Today, we doubt whether people really think that. It doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes of online research to figure out that naturists come in all different shapes and sizes. If you really think that all naturists are 24-year-old gym instructors, you’re probably looking on the wrong websites.

 

The problem isn’t that people think that everyone will be attractive, it’s that they find their own bodies unattractive. A combination of a negative body image and fear for vulnerability. And the question is, how do you tackle this? We are 100% certain that naturism improves your body image (and to an extent also your mental health), but that’s because we’ve already experienced naturism. How do you explain to someone who hates his body that he’ll feel better about it if he publicly exposes it? It’s like trying to convince people that they will lose weight by eating chocolate.

 

It happens quite often that people tell us that they feel inspired by what we do, that they find us brave and confident, but that they “could never do it themselves”. Then it’s easy to point out the physical aspect and say “What do you mean? The only thing you need to do is take off your clothes”. But that’s not going to help, it’s the mindset that needs to be changed.

Naturism is for old people

This misconception wasn’t in the early post, and we wonder why we didn’t think about that back in the day. In the end, we started our blog because we noticed a lack of younger people at the naturist places that we had visited and wanted to show our generation how fun it really is.

 

Maybe we didn’t mention it because we had no idea why there was an age imbalance. We still don’t completely get it, but we’re pretty sure that the imbalance is both a result as a cause. That the fact that there are more elder naturists discourages the younger generations to give it a try. Because it gives the idea that naturism is just something only old people do.

 

Could this cause the eventual downfall of naturism? We think not. But it might change how naturism is being experienced. As our friend from Australia once said: “Why would I pay tens of dollars to spend time in a resort with a bunch of old blokes when I can just get naked in nature for free?”.

 

Many naturist clubs and resorts have been founded in the sixties and seventies, and many of those founding members are still in charge. Managing things as they have always done, completely ignoring the wishes of the younger generations. This makes their organization, and in certain cases even naturism in general, unattractive.

I will feel uncomfortable

We were talking with a woman the other day at a naturist campsite who told us that she and her late husband had been visiting nude beaches all their lives but always thought that visiting a naturist resort was “one step too far”. Her husband has passed away last year and had told her to enjoy life to the fullest. So this year, she had decided to visit a naturist resort for the first time.

 

It a charming story, but the one thing that kept sticking to our minds was the “one step too far”. They both went naked on the nude beach, but camped at a textile campsite while there were also naturist campsites around.

 

We’ve heard similar stories before, from people who enjoy the nude beach and the naked spa but would never consider visiting a naturist resort. Their main concern is that they don’t want to be naked all the time and that they fear that they will be forced (by the rules or the social norms) to be naked when they actually prefer to wear clothes.

 

While naturism is all about freedom and very comfortable, it’s a pity that those people believe that naturist resorts will actually restrict their freedom and make them feel uncomfortable.

Everyone is against the naturists

This is not a misconception that the world has about naturism, but that naturists seem to have about the world. During our recent road trip through Italy, we met many Italian naturists and most of them told us about how the country (and its population) was so disapproving of social nudity.

 

We almost believed it, until we spent a sunny afternoon on the Santa Severa nude beach near Rome. The nude section is only separated from the textile beach by a sign and at the ends, naked and clothed people are just steps away from each other. Nobody on both sides seemed to care much about the others though. At a certain moment, a father with two young boys were playing soccer on the textile part, and the ball rolled over to the nude side. They just came over and continued playing, as if there were no naked people around.

 

Italy is quite a religious country and we’re certain that some norms are pretty hard to change. But it’s important not to overreact either. We believe that if you’d ask the population what they think about naturism, maybe 10% would be in favor, and let’s say that 20% is totally against it. This leaves us with another 70% that doesn’t care much about it. That’s a majority and those are the ones we should focus on when we promote naturism. Not to convince them to become naturists too, but to strengthen their opinion that naturism is not something bad or perverse.

 

To get the majority on our side, we need to get rid of the misconceptions. And in order to do that, we believe that open communication is key. The unknown is the best source for misapprehension and we have been hiding behind large walls for way too long. Only by talking about naturism as something normal, we have a chance to change the general opinion.

 
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13 thoughts on “The Misconceptions of Naturism, What we Know Now”

  1. On the last point – “Ah yes, no one expects the Spa… err, I mean ‘moral minority'”. I get the sense in the US too that even most conservatives don’t “mind” nudity, and probably wouldn’t care at all if people went topless at the local lake, or even where totally naked. They would just have a laugh at it, and maybe call the people fools. However, there is the small number that, no matter what the subject, if there is a tiny inkling of “controversy”, what ever the F that word means this week, will immediately cry, “Think of the children!!!”, and start demanding someone, “Do something!”

    Personally I think that thing that needs to be done far more often is to tell these jokers that a few thousand angry letters, when all other evidence suggest that 70%+ of the country just doesn’t give a flying fig about their latest obsession, isn’t scary, and no one is going to cater to their paranoia. In the US, unfortunately, you get madness like Tennessee’s recent talks about “banning all vaccines in the state”… They may not be thinking about “nudists/naturists” this week, but, get these nut jobs focused, somehow, on, “protecting the children”, from baths or showers, or locker rooms, or pool changing rooms, or… and it wouldn’t take long for them to start babbling, like some Mormon, about magic underwear, and trying to work out how to stop people from being naked inside their own houses (especially with kids there too! Oh my!!).

    The crazy just seems to be growing here, and we already have states that banned camps, which no one ever intended to build in the first place, to prevent orgies being taught to kids, presumably as part of the arts and crafts day at the summer camp, or something? Its so much nicer in other parts of the world, where the crazy stays behind its own doors, only sometimes comes out to do stupid things in politics, or, better yet, wouldn’t dare put on a swim suit, to go to a beach, when waxing their “god’s” manuscripts is so much more important, or something, so are, -probably- not going to bother with where the beaches are, or where anyone is around/on them. lol

    But here.. Here is just.. Sigh!

    Reply
    • From what we hear and read, these people aren’t unfortunately just the crazies. Especially in the US. People just seem to be in constant fear and believe that conspiracies are everywhere. We don’t understand how one can live like this, constantly thinking that there are bad people everywhere who will take every opportunity to break down that safe cocoon that they’ve been working on all those years.

      In the past, they were just written off as loonies, and they knew it, so they didn’t dare to open their mouths. But today, because of social media, they find platforms full of others that think the same (and worse). QAnon is one of the best examples. Imagine back in the eighties that you’d start telling stories about a child trafficking network run by the democrats. You’d be the joke of the town. But now, you can always surround yourself by others who believe such bulls** too. And it becomes pretty dangerous.

      Reply
      • Very unfortunately, there is a certain group of people that seems to have control over what is “right” and what is “wrong” in their world, and they -force- their views on everyone around them. Don’t dare to disagree or to voice your own dissenting opinion or you’ll be shouted down, cancelled, and some people have even lost jobs/careers for daring to disagree! And believe it or not, it’s -not- the “religious right” that is doing it. I’ve literally lost life long friends because I dared to vote for the candidate that I thought would be best for me and my family. (Not necessarily a vote for “him” but his policies and how well that the local economy has been for the past 4 years for me and my family, if you get my hint!).
        If they ever get around to saying “Pubic/Social nudity = Very Bad!” it’ll stick better than Super Glue. They’re already turning their noses up in disgust if a woman breast feeds in public (even discreetly), or if you dare to be a heterosexual & happily married male…

        Reply
        • Yeah, it seems to be very human to think that we all know best what other people should or should not do. The social media algorithms are making this problem worse because no matter what you believe, you’ll always find a lot of proof in your favor.

          A decade or two ago, if you thought that the earth was flat, this is something you probably would not dare to talk about. Today, you’ll find lots of (fake) articles proving that you are right and most importantly, that you are not alone.

          This can work in our favor, thanks to the internet, the naturist world is much more connected than it used to be. But, unfortunately, those who believe that naturism is creepy and perverse will also get more connected…

          Reply
  2. Evolution rid us of our hair so we could hunt in the day time. It’s about keeping cool. Why do we think we are smarter than our own Mother Nature?

    Reply
  3. This article is an example, for your great experience with people round the world. It is that what I want to read over the naturism.
    The Problem, to feel uncomfortable is varied and frequently. The women in your article fear, that she can not free move in a resort. I´ve heard from women, that they fear that others she can see from an higher point. In the clubs are members, they not want new members, because the new peoples can be a risk. They want to hold a privat sphere in the own club.
    The greatest problem I found, is the aversion, to speak over the various feelings. Proper naturists don´t have problems with sexuality or her feelings with her nakedness. To want to speak frankly over problems with shame, sexuality or other feeling, is indecent for some naturists.

    Reply
    • You’re really talking about a club mentality, it’s “us against the world”. But because naturism is becoming more and more commercial, we feel that this is also going away and that people are becoming less scared. In a couple of weeks, we’ll start publishing our “Belgium videos” on our youtube channel and you’ll see us talk with quite some people that are more open-minded than the general naturist.

      Reply
  4. Another common misconception is that a lack of self-esteem is the main reason why people don’t want to start with naturism. While it may be the reason for some people, many people have other reasons. For example, the fear that some people will look at them as an object of beauty. This is especially the case for women who heard stories of or experienced themselves voyeurs or so-called compliments on their or other’s appearance. Clothes are for them a protection against such unpleasant encounters.

    Reply
    • That is definitely true! The fear of getting naked among others is very often immediately linked to self esteem, while it can have other underlying reasons.

      Reply
  5. What is the problem with kompliments? We know in germany an FKK-Knigge, a list of ethiquette in nudist-places. It is full of interdictions, to see or to show bodyparts, to see and show the nakedness. Why should we be naked, with the hope that nobody it see? The Shameness is coming from the thinking over the own bodyshape and from the thinking over what think the others. To break the ethiquette is difficult for all of us. The naturists should be the first to break the body-shaming in there own area too.

    Reply
    • The problem with compliments on physical appearance is that they come from the textile world. If one person says to someone else “you look good”, it’s most often pointing to the choice of clothes or makeup, or the shape of the body (“have you lost weight?”). In the naturist world, we will also immediately relate this to our physical appearance and some naturists might think that you’ve been watching them. We still have a long way to go…

      Reply

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