Musings about Clothing-Optional 2.0

We received a message on our YouTube channel today. Someone asked whether “it is okay to wear only boxers when visiting a naturist place“. We explained that it is not. In fact, that the only types of clothing that really are considered a big no-no are underwear and bathing suits. Well, visibly that is, if it’s freezing outside and you’re wearing pants and a jacket, feel free to wear some undies too. But only boxers? Nope.

 

This got us thinking. Why would someone want to walk around in only boxers? Interestingly, we have no issues at all being naked among other people at any venue that allows it, but the thought of wearing only underwear feels kinda awkward. We believe that we would feel more naked in underwear than if we were actually naked. Is that strange? Have we gotten too deep into naturism?

 

 

Sexy on the nude beach

We feel the same about thongs and tiny bikinis, by the way, which are not an uncommon sight on nude beaches. Those things won’t keep you warm nor will they protect you from anything. The only reasons that we can come up with are the shame of going full monty or to sexualize your body. When we did a bit of research about this, we stumbled upon the lingerie website Clovia, which claims that their thongs “enhance your sex appeal, self-confidence and make you feel super sexy“. That’s all very nice, but the nude beach isn’t really a place where you are expected to “feel super sexy”.

 

So we could conclude that the people who want to wear underwear in naturist places would either do so for the wrong reasons or out of shame. This element of shame is really interesting. Some people wear a thong because they’re ashamed to be completely naked. While we would be ashamed wearing nothing but a thong, and not when we’re completely naked. Where does that difference come from?

 

We believe that it’s in the power of habit. When we think back about our non-naturist days, we probably would have worn a plastic bag if it meant that we didn’t have to be naked. Only by spending more and more time without clothes in naturist environments, we learned to appreciate our bare skin more than any type of clothes (or plastic for that matter). But this has taken some time.

 

 

What’s practical?

Back in the day, there wasn’t really much of an in between. Either you were at a naturist place and expected to be totally naked, or you were at a non-naturist place and expected to be everything but totally naked. But the times are changing and the concept of clothing-optional has sneaked its way into naturism. Sometimes quite straightforward, in the sense of resorts calling themselves “clothing-optional”. Other times more gently, like at the French naturist campsites where dressing up for dinner seems to be more accepted than dining naked, even if it’s still 35°C.

 

It can also be the other way around. We, naturists, like to stand behind the slogan “nude when practical, clothed when necessary”, but who are we to define for someone else what is practical? Is 20°C still practical? How about 15°C? Or 5°C? We kid you not, we’ve seen naked people at 5°C. Kudos to them, but the day that they become the benchmark, we’re moving to a tropical place.

 

Which brings us back to shame. Shame is an extreme form of discomfort and discomfort is all but practical. So we could argue that feeling ashamed of your nudity would be a valid reason to wear clothes. But then how will you get rid of that shame?

 

 

Away with clothing-optional

Die-hard naturists will tell you that clothing-optional is the devil. Or at least that it’s good for absolutely nothing. It’s the nude way or the highway, just as it has been dictated at naturist venues for centuries. In a way, they are right. We took our first steps into social nudity in a nude spa where the rules were very strict: all clothes go off in the dressing room. Period. You are allowed to wear a bathrobe to walk between the facilities, but in the pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and whatever other warm and humid things they provide, you shall be naked.

 

It’s the trick with the band-aid on the hairy body part. Pulling it off slowly will only give you more opportunities to stop. While one hard pull may hurt like hell, at least it’ll be over quickly. Should we go back to the traditional naturist club where you put your clothes in a locker at the reception? Nudity is a pillar of naturism, so why not just ban clothes completely at naturist places?

 

This may sound like an ideal solution, but it has a big flaw. It makes the first steps into naturism much larger. We’ve talked to numerous people who visit nude beaches but are reluctant to go to a naturist resort. The main reason why is almost unanimous. They don’t want to feel pressured to be naked at times or in circumstances when they don’t feel like it.

 

 

What if the spa was clothing-optional?

We wonder if that nude spa, back in the day, had been a clothing-optional one, whether we would have gotten naked too. As this was our first time, and we had no idea what to expect, we would definitely have brought bathing suits. And we would have been wearing them when entering the spa.

 

If everyone else was naked, the awkward feeling of being the only bathing suit in the room would probably have drawn us over the line pretty quickly. We would have silently sneaked into a corner, quickly undress, and act as if we never wore clothes before.

 

If half was naked and half was clothed, we’d probably not get naked on the first visit. But we might have the second time (or maybe the 5th) because seeing those naked people enjoy the jacuzzi would tickle our curiosity to also want to experience this.

 

If more than let’s say 60% of the others were in bathing suits, we’re pretty certain that we would have kept ours on as well. Then the naked people would be a minority. They would be the strange ones. And that’s where the whole philosophy of clothing-optional falls apart.

 

 

The pink gym shorts

Over the years, we’ve learned to be comfortably naked in any given circumstance. But not everyone has the privilege of spending a significant amount of time at places where nudity is accepted. We’ve met people who have been going on naturist vacations for 20 years, and still find the first couple of minutes after the clothes go off a bit awkward. Being surrounded by naked people is an encouragement. If most others would be clothed, it would just increase the discomfort.

 

We’re a bit in a chicken or egg situation here. Giving people the chance to choose when to get naked and when not will definitely improve the odds that they’ll go to a naturist resort in the first place. But too many clothed people will only discourage others to get naked. We need to create a balance that is comfortable for everybody.

 

The question is “how?”. You can’t really ask visitors on arrival when exactly they plan to undress. Maybe we should allow guests to only wear clothes provided by the resort. Like when you forgot your sports clothes for gym class and had to wear oversized pink shorts with flowers. That’ll encourage them to get naked!

 

 

Clothing-optional 2.0

There is a better solution though, and one that is being applied a lot at large naturist campsites in France. Technically, they maintain a clothing-optional policy, but nudity is obligatory in and around the water facilities. In other words, if you want to do the cool stuff, you got to get naked. We were talking to the owners of such a resort one day, who employ students during the summer months. We asked them if any of the students were naturists. They replied: “Not yet, but wait until it gets 40°C“.

 

We believe that this is the way forward. We shouldn’t just start allowing clothes at naturist places in general, but neither should we keep enforcing nudity “when practical”. Instead, we should give people a reason to get naked. Thinking back about that day in the spa, we actually could have remained covered if we wanted to. We had the bathrobe. We could have just wandered around all day with our hands in our pockets. The reason why we didn’t, is because we wanted to get into the jacuzzi and the sauna. The reason why those students will eventually get naked is that one day or another, they won’t be able to resist the call from the pool.

 
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38 thoughts on “Musings about Clothing-Optional 2.0”

  1. Nicely written article with balanced thoughts..
    I feel that Naturism is an individual’s choice & preferences.
    It can’t be framed with laws & regulations.. However, saying that, it won’t be a nice idea to roam around on a nude beach with innerwear. The purpose itself will get defeated. At a nude beach, the one has to be naked.
    Anyways, the opinions will continue to differ..

    Reply
  2. “Why would someone want to walk around in only boxers? ”

    Boxers are light, soft, shorts. The ones I prefer have a soft waistband rather than a tight elastic. I wear them around the house quite often, and would wear them outside my home in my yard, if my wife would let me. 🙂
    Now, I would not wear them to a store, or go to meet people in them, but in my house or in ‘my domain’ I find them very comfy. i.e. they are casual wear for around the house.

    Reply
    • Let’s rephrase that question: Why would someone want to walk around in only boxers in a venue where it’s okay to be naked and where most other people will be naked?

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  3. What you describe as clothing-optional 2.0 is what we’ve always known in the US. We hear there are a few nudity required resorts here but in our 10 years as nudists we’ve never been to one. All of the resorts we go to do have a nudity requirement in the pools and hot tubs, though. We did see an older woman get yelled at for trying to get into the pool at Lake Como with bikini bottoms. Apparently she had been told multiple times about the rules and kept ignoring them.

    Our home resort has signs that nudity is required within the fenced area around the pool, but it is only enforced in the pool itself. I’ve seen plenty of men and women in pareos or shorts at social events by the pool, but none who tried going in the pool while wearing anything.

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  4. > French naturist campsites where dressing up for dinner seems to be more accepted than dining naked, even if it’s still 35°C

    That would be very frustrating. If I’m at a nudist resort I want to feel free from silly norms that dictate what you can wear depending on the location or time of day or whatever. These rules are mostly illogical and I want to feel free. My body, my rules. I can wear clothes the rest of the year, I don’t want to dress up for dinner unless it’s really cold.

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  5. Great post. Well written and well reasoned. Had I been asked whether it’s ok to wear only boxer shorts at a nudist venue, I would probably have replied, “Not unless you want to look like a doofus.” But your response was better and definitely more polite.

    RR

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  6. Parece lo mas lógico estar desnudo en un lugar nudista, por algo muy fácil de entender se llama nudista, para otras opciones: otros lugares.
    Julio

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  7. Someone once put it on Reddit that wearing clothes at a naturist resort is “Like going to a golf course and never actually playing golf”!

    What you’ve left out is a fact which I’ve certainly observed, that at the resorts and beaches, it’s much more likely women than men who’ll want to keep clothes on. A clothing-optional policy may encourage women to come in the door, but I wonder if it leads to a situation that you described, where clothed people discourage new arrivals from undressing. But it’s entirely possible that this doesn’t affect everyone the same, and the men are encouraged by the naked men, while women are discouraged by the clothed women. I don’t want anyone to feel compelled, but I really do see nudity as better than clothes, and I’d like to be in an environment where people who choose to be there will choose to be naked.

    A lot of this was very well described in Stephane Deschenes’ article from a few years ago, “The sarong, destroyer of naturist worlds”. I’d be interested to hear if you agree with that, or if you think he took the idea too far.

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    • Great argument from you and Nick and Lins.
      I have never been to a nudist resort or anywhere socially nude than the gym.
      #somedaymaybe

      Reply
    • We like the golf comparison, but we don’t think that it’s always true. It depends a lot on what the visitor expects. We’d rather day that it’s like going to a golf course and never leaving the driving range. For the avid golfer, it might seem ridiculous that you don’t try to put some holes. But some people just love to shoot balls in a distance and nothing else. Just like some people just like to be nude at the beach or in the pool and nothing else.

      In the past, we’ve had quite lengthy discussions with Stéphane about his sarong quote, and from those we learned that this is also something very location dependent. As Europeans, we are used to going to France and Spain, where there are plenty resorts and something for everybody. In Canada, the resorts are fewer, so the resort owners need to be more considerate about the direction they want their resort to go. Both from an ideological point of view as from a commercial one.

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      • But your golf analogy leaves out the part where if too many people are “using the driving range” it discourages other people from “playing golf”. I think an important part of nude resorts is the expectation that you be nude because everyone has the same expectation and it provides a “when in Rome”, don’t be the odd one out motivation.
        There are very few places (in the USA) where people are allowed to be socially nude. If you want wear clothes, there are a zillion choices; go there.

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    • I disagree with this quote. I don’t know, maybe that is because I don’t go to “resorts” but only public beaches.

      When you go to the beach, the place is interesting in itself. Whether you get naked or not is a simple detail.

      Because you know, in some places, and this is the case for the island I’m talking about, people actually believe that nudity is a natural thing, and as such it’s not a big deal. You don’t go to a nudist place, you go to an interesting place, which you happen to enjoy naked if the weather permits, among other people who may or may not be naked, but who cares.

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  8. Another thoughtful article.

    Something very significant that I’ve noticed at clubs and resorts we’ve visited is the strong tendency that many people have, in general, to get naked around water, but they are often less inclined elsewhere. Although such people aren’t the same kind of naturist as I am (ie, the kind that would happily be naked 24/7), I still consider them to be naturists, and I think they should be welcomed.

    But if someone (not a novice) is ultimately uncomfortable with being naked at the pool or on the beach, I agree that – as the article seems to conclude – they are either missing the point, are in the wrong place, or doing it for completely the wrong reasons. So they need to filtered out. They are not naturists.

    I am all for Clothing Optional 2.0 if it means allowing people to be whatever they want to be, or what they are comfortable with. If some people choose to dress at certain times or in certain places, I really don’t mind – as long as they don’t mind my nakedness.

    I have come to realise and accept that no two naturists are the same; it’s a broad spectrum, so trying to make rules or force genuine naturists to conform to one specific idea or ideal only discourages people.

    There would be millions more practising naturists in the world if there was less pressure for would-be naturists to conform to what existing naturists define as ‘normal’ or ‘standard’.

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    • Doubtful. The main pressure is from non-nudists to conform to their no nudity standard. Until this changes the numbers will not go up by the orders of magnitude you suggest.

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  9. Interesting thoughts. All I can say is thank God I live in New Zealand, where the only naturist places are the clubs and one resort. Most naturists expect society to regard nakedness as acceptable – at least in appropriate locations such as beaches and other public outback spaces. For the naturist world to enforce nudity amounts to hypocrisy when trying to preach to the textile world to stop enforcing clothing!

    I will not go anywhere that nudity is enforced! I am the sole owner of my body and it’s my choice as to what pieces of cloth I choose to hang on it! I love being naked much of the time – but it’s also fun to dress up sometimes. I get tired of naturists bleating on and on about how much they hate clothing and criticising others who like to show off a bit of fashion now and then. Fortunately we don’t have any “nude beaches” here, and it will be a very sad day if our government decides to declare any beaches as “official nude beaches”. So I get to enjoy the best of both worlds – I can go naked on any beach if I wish, or I can wear a pair of colourful, trendy satin boxers if I choose to. And nobody cares!

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  10. The worst (most awkward) is when the staff is not nude. Fully clothed teenagers walking around the pool soliciting drink orders. Will never go there again. Ponderosa Ontario Canada.

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    • Why do you find it most awkward if staff is dressed? It is normal and even beneficial that staff is recognizable. How else would one know who to order a drink from or ask for assistance if you would encounter a problem?
      Are you afraid that their clothed presence will trigger visitors to dress up and turn the place into a textile place? If not, then what’s the issue?

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      • Good point, it would be very hard to recognise staff when they’re all naked and this would probably lead to some awkward situations.

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    • It’s very hard for resorts to find qualified staff. It’s even much harder to find qualified staff that is also a naturist. We don’t know much about Ponderosa, but there are resorts in France that employ hundreds of staff members during the high season. If they need to look for naturists only, you’ll probably have to pour your own drinks.

      Reply
  11. How about a dressed time limit? If, after three hours, they are still bashful, then they are invited to leave and try again another time.

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    • Not a bad idea, but the time one needs to become comfortable is very personal. Some need less than a minute, others need more than a week.

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  12. Greetings from France! Unfortunately in France there are no clothing optional places. And this is a big problem for us as a couple since my wife is hesitant. Fortunately we managed to visit some other places like Spain where nudity is optional and both textile and nude people can stay together as it should be. And finally my wife made her first step and tried this wonderful feeling! However she is still skeptical about nudism.

    Actually this will be a question from my side, do you have any suggestion about how to approach her? This is very sensitive moments for me and I don’t want to ruin this exciting possibility of having our lifestyle in common or at least accommodate each other.

    Thank you very much for your posts. I benefit a lot from your ideas and suggestions of beautiful places. I am glad to know you! 🙂

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    • I think you are doing the right thing, allowing her to accept you as you are as you accept her as she is. Then with gentle optional experiences and letting her open up if she chooses in her own time.
      I’m doing this with my partner who is more hesitant, and it’s great.

      Just a bit worried if there are more dictator-y places now!

      I like the name that someone said in another comment ‘nudity normal’, though doesn’t mean you have to be ‘normal’ and be nude 🙂

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    • Actually, many places in France are clothing optional even though they call themselves naturist. Only the water facilities will always be nude only. But go to any of the larger resorts in France, and your wife will always be allowed to cover up (although bathing suits are frowned upon).

      When it comes to tips: Just give her all the time she needs.

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  13. It is interesting that you make such a big deal about nudity. I have come to believe that the “hardcore” nudists are those that consider nudity the less natural.

    I can talk about my local beach here in contrast with what you describe here. Nudity is really a natural thing here. That is, there is no rule about nudity, it is fully accepted and nobody talks it. You want to get naked? Fine, do it. You want to keep some clothes on for whatever reason? That’s fine too. Nobody will tell you how you have to dress, you decide. There is no nudists or textiles here.

    Wearing sunglasses on a sunny day does not make me a sunglassist. Keeping some clothes at the beach does not make me a textile. Not keeping any clothe on does not make me a nudist. Nudity at the beach is a natural thing. I’m neither a nudist nor a textile.

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    • That is a beautiful example, and we very much agree that the ones who have the loudest mouth about naturism are often those that still believe that nudidy is not normal and needs some kind of abnormal protection.

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  14. An interesting article and discussion to follow it, a couple of ideas.
    1 The naturist resorts I have run have both been CO, but we chose to describe them as “nudity normal” to highlight the expectation that people would get bare.
    2 Clothed at clubs, when people get in touch about visits, ask – Are you planning to go naked from arrival? – and limit the number of no’s and maybe’s on a given day to prevent textile overload.
    I loved the idea of the Resort Supplied clothing only …

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    • You’re absolutely right about personal conversations. We’ve been saying this so much to naturist resorts: Listen to the stories of the wannabee visitors. 99.9% of the time you can filter out the rotten apples within 5 minutes. But that’s easy for small resorts… A Euronat who gets thousands of visitors a day just doesn’t have the resources for that.

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  15. I am a naturist, I was looking forward to visiting some naturist resorts this year.

    However, after this article, has suddenly put me off. I guess it’s not too late to rebook!

    I am so looking forward to be naturist in the holiday, I have been reassuring my partner, that he is ok clothed or unclothed. I think once he is there, he will soon be unclothed, but that is his pace to take. I would not want people judging him, like this article would seem to.

    If I want to take my time to become comfortable with new people, I want to too. I probably do not need it this days, but…..

    I understand that it can feel awkward for some people if most people are clothed, but I have been on naturist holidays in the UK, and there is a mix, due to the weather, and everything has been just fine. Even when most people were clothed as it was so cold.

    What I really valued at these events was an acceptance of everyone clothed and unclothed it was wonderful. I could be free to be unclothed or unclothed as I chose (well as the weather allowed really, but still). It made my non-naturist partner feel comfortable in joining in. It was wonderful.

    This article is not accepting. It seems judgemental would you say? It’s understandable the perspective, when our naturism has been judged by many textiles. Totally understanding .And very tempting to go down the same track. But to suggest it’s just shame why people do not go naturist, seems quite narrow viewed. It can be way more complex than that. It can even just go down to whatever you are comfortable with in that moment, it does not have to be due to shame.

    Where it is due to shame, is it an opportunity to be shame free. And encouragement like these resorts or beaches and events seems wonderful to me. I almost wish that I could have everyone I know experience this, but I cannot force this, I have to accept that they are them, I am me.

    While no one wore just boxers, including my partner, I would say feel free to be yourself. I come to this way of life for the freedom. I’m not one of those people that judge people for going out in their pyjamas. ‘You be you’ I say, our social norms like that were created by us anyway.

    Therefore this article, as a naturist is ‘Not in my name’

    Is this article just going down the same track of mistakes as textiles? My way or the highway?

    And I want to go on a naturist holiday, do I have to holiday away from my partner now, just in case he wants to be clothed? Or do I take the chance, which is likely, that he will join in when he feels happy to.

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  16. Nudists should also be able to explain why they want to omit that last piece of fabric as well. It is clearly about body parts that are attributed to sexuality. They are widely regarded as impossible to show, indecent and too private. We should also think about our attitude towards these body parts and the taboos associated with them. They are not only associated with sexuality but also with excretions and reproduction. For all three complexes, almost all of us have a problem talking about them loosely. Doesn’t it actually have to do with the fact that we are open to the fact that we are people who can retire, feel sexual desire, father children, give birth and breastfeed. To see it openly can mean that we acknowledge being part of the nature that all this belongs to. Apparently we all have a hard time with that.

    Reply

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