Normalizing Nudity, What are the Next Steps?

After 4 years of Naked Wanderings, we like to think back to how it all started. How we had this crazy idea to quit our jobs and start traveling the world in search of naturist places. How we decided to be completely open about our naturist life and share every aspect of it on this blog and social media. How scary it was the first time that we appeared butt naked in a newspaper and not much later on TV in the USA.

 

We think about what has changed since then. How we have changed because of the people we met and the things we learned. How our perception of naturism has changed and on a larger scale, our perception of the world. We think about how we managed to already double the two years of traveling that we had initially in mind. And we’re still not planning to stop in the near future.

Helping (aspiring) naturists

One question that keeps popping up in our minds is whether we’ve been able to make a difference. Naked Wanderings started from the idea that we wanted to show the world how great naturism really is, and to inspire others to give naturism a try. Because that’s the thing with naturism: you have to try it to understand it. Actually, this is probably the same for every experience. You don’t really know what it’s like to dive, to bungee jump, to travel to places where you don’t speak the language, or to eat at a three-star restaurant, before you’ve given it a shot.

 

You know that feeling when you’re seeing something on TV and think “that looks cool, but it’s probably not something for me”. Those were the people we wanted to reach. We wanted to tell them that naturism IS something for them. That they should at least give it a try. It’s not particularly hard and doesn’t need to be very expensive. And the cliché comparison that we’ve meanwhile used in many interviews: “Naturism is not like getting a tattoo on your face, if you don’t like it, you just put your clothes back on and you’re not a naturist anymore”.

 

Anyway, it worked. We have a folder on our hard drive with screenshots of messages from people who thank us because we’ve helped them taking the first steps into naturism. Or who found their new favorite naturist resort thanks to us. Or who finally dared to introduce a friend or partner thanks to our writings. Yes, we are that vain that we keep those things. They will remember us why we do what we do if we ever lose track.

Making a big difference, like really big!

Did we make a difference? We like to believe that we did. On a small scale, at least. When we wrote our book in Dutch: Alles Uit!, we said that if this book would convince one person to not run away when they see a nude beach sign, but think “Hey, I read about this in that – very cool – book, maybe I should give this a try”, then all the work would have been worth it. We meanwhile received several messages from people who tried naturism thanks to our book. Mission successfully completed.

 

But, of course, we also like to look at the bigger picture. If we could set a goal for Naked Wanderings, without having to think about time, resources, or any other restrictions, what would it be? Normalizing (non-sexual) nudity. Simple as that. Make the world see that a naked body is nothing more than a naked body. Just like you have one and everyone else who does or does not read this blog post.

How do we measure the normalization of nudity?

If we want to achieve something, we need a way to measure success. Will more naturist resorts or nude beaches prove that it works? We would definitely like it if that happens, but it wouldn’t take away the “us and them” aspect. There would still be places for naked people and other places for clothed people. You can’t really call that normalization.

 

How about changing the law so that we are allowed to be naked everywhere we want? Some people would definitely love this, but those are fewer than you’d think. In Spain, nudity is legally allowed on every beach. Yet, we’ve only seen naked people on designated nude beaches. In cities like New York and Toronto, women can legally be top-free everywhere. How many topless women have you already seen on 5th Avenue?

 

The only solution would be to change the mindset of our society. To make sure that everyone (or, let’s say, 90%) when they see a naked person just thinks “oh there’s a naked person”. Or better, not think anything at all and just continue with whatever they were doing.

What does a world where nudity is normal look like?

An important question that we need to ask is what does a world where nudity is normal look like? Does it start with a big bonfire where all clothes in the world are ritually burned? Will the police give you a fine when you’re dressed outside and it’s over 20°C? Will people gawk at you or call you a pervert if you’re wearing clothes on the streets? Will your colleagues think that you’re weird when you’re not naked in the office?

 

For us personally, a world where nudity is normalized is a world where bathing suits just stop existing. Because let’s be honest, those don’t have any purpose other than covering your bits that are not supposed to be seen. When it’s perfectly fine that they are seen, the bathing suit would disappear.

 

This means that it would be normal to be naked in every place where people wear bathing suits these days. In the local pool, on the beach, in the park, in your car, on the streets,… In the shop, someone might look at you and think “that’s not really appropriate”, but there it would stop. But you won’t have to get naked if you don’t want to. If you want to wear an Armani suit on the beach, fine. someone might look at you though and think “that’s not really appropriate”.

So what is the next step?

Did we just write a 1000-word introduction to promote clothing-optional again? It wasn’t our initial intention, but it seems like this ramble is definitely going in that direction. What’s wrong with the world today is the growing polarization. We’re seeing things very black or white, while pretty much everything is grey.

 

We need to learn that it’s not because we believe that our ideals are good, that the opposite ideals are by default bad. We need to learn to respect people’s choices, whether we agree with them or not. And that is – watch out, here it comes… – exactly what clothing-optional is about. It’s about respecting people’s choices. You want to be naked and I don’t. Fine. Whatever. If this puts us in a situation where both of us are happy, it’s pretty perfect. And if the whole world would think like this, we’ve probably normalized nudity.

 
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22 thoughts on “Normalizing Nudity, What are the Next Steps?”

  1. You normalise nudity when you show that nudity is natural (and fun!) within certain settings: The beach, the sauna, on vacation, etc.
    You do not normalise nudity when you are trying to convince others that you should be able to go about in the buff in your everyday life. It’s weird.

    Nudity should be just another dress code for specific places and occasions, much like the tie in a formal setting or the bikini in a textile beach.

    Reply
    • I take your point, but have a slightly different perspective. I have no desire to go to the supermarket nude, and on a textile beach, even if it was technically allowed I wouldn’t go nude. However there are normal, everyday situations where I would like to be more free to go nude.

      For example I live in a rural area. I use my garden nude. When I take my dog for a a walk I’ve got a short walk past 4 other houses and then I get into a wooded area. Currently when taking her for a walk I get dressed, walk past the houses to the wooded area and then strip off and carry my clothes (when the weather allows!), then dress again on my return. I rarely see anyone and they would have to be in their garden or looking out their window at just the right/wrong moment to see me. Occasionally a visitor, tradesman or delivery driver might pass me on the road, but infrequently.

      I would like nudity to be normalised to the extent that on a lovely sunny day like today I can do the whole walk nude without worrying about someone looking out their window at the wrong moment.

      Reply
      • I agree with you Stephen. I also like to work nude in my garden. I can be seen sometimes. I live on a rural road but with a lot of bikers an hikers on sundays. I should like it if I could cross the street from one side of my garden to the other with putting on shorts.

        Reply
      • This is a bit the idea when we said that in a world where nudity is allowed, bathing suits would disappear. Of course, they wouldn’t disappear. Some people actually enjoy wearing a bathing suit. But you would have the choice. Like in your case, it’s probably completely normal if you’d walk past those houses in nothing but shorts. In “our normalized world”, nudity would be equal to shorts

        Reply
    • I can’t agree that naturism should be confined to very specific places and occasions. It always bothers me when some people who call themselves naturists actually only allow themselves to be naked near water – at the pool, on the beach, in a spa or skinnydipping. Why? Naturism is about breaking boundaries, not imposing them. I don’t think anybody, when they say nudity should be ‘normalised’, really expects the time to come when we do the weekly shopping nude, but I really can’t see anything wrong with nude hiking or nude gardening. Nobody is harmed. The problem is: by implying that naturism is only not “weird” in a very limited number of circumstances, you are also inferring it IS “weird” in the vast majority of other circumstances. I am a naturist because I believe nudity is very often the exact opposite of weird, which is: natural.

      Reply
    • This is exactly what we think, and probably many others. Most naturists we know would be very happy if there were more beaches or resorts where they could go naked, or if they could just go naked on any given beach. But very few are actually interested to go to the mall or to work without clothes.

      Reply
  2. I understand Nick & Lins’s “swimsuit test” to be that nudity will be normalized when one can be nude in any situation in which one can (legally) wear a swimsuit now. I don’t know where you live, but I suspect that you could walk your dog now wearing only a swimsuit without worrying about someone seeing you. They might think you’re a little bit odd, but I doubt that anyone would report you to the police.

    Reply
    • Here’s the thing: whatever you do, someone might always think that you’re a bit odd 🙂
      But the goal is to change the general perception. We’ve spent a lot of time on beachside boulevards in our lives, and the things we’ve seen… From the most tiny bikinis that barely hide a nipple or are nothing but jut a chord between two butt cheeks to much revealing speedos… Then we wonder what’s so shocking about a totally nude body…

      Reply
  3. Normalize nudity in my mind is to be confident in yourself & around other people. Trust helps to when your friends want to join you. Most new people are afraid that experiencing naturism will send the wrong message for touching, arousal, & confidentiality. All this is settled by giving your friend an invitation to explore naturism in a private one on one setting. Small steps toward a group of nudists gets them there. I am also convinced that men except naturism more and in a positive way than females. I see it at pools, locker rooms and spas. The idea of undressing around others is confidence both young & more mature.

    Reply
    • You’re definitely right that confidence is important and this starts with conversation. Only recently, we were invited to a talk show in Ireland (https://youtu.be/fo8NweO_Z5k). We love to do those things, because it gives us the chance to tell a wide public what naturism is really about. In Europe, we believe the the misconception that naturism is something sexual is largely fading away. But it’s making place for other questions. The one that we start hearing frequently is that people are afraid to be “forced” to be naked at a naturist place, even when they don’t feel comfortable.

      So, we believe that it’s very important to talk about this and to give as much information as we can. And to provide a comfortable environment for those who are considering giving naturism a try.

      Reply
  4. When I tell people I’m a naturist, one common reaction is, “Oh, I could never do that!” As if by merely telling a fact about ourselves, we’re inviting them to join us! I wonder if many people, without ever admitting it to themselves, long for the freedom we live. And perhaps if they acknowledge that longing and give themselves permission to act on it, then we will have normalized nudity…

    Reply
    • You’re absolutely right, we get that reaction a lot too. It’s very human to write things off with “I can’t”. That justifies the fact that they probably won’t do something even though they wish they would.

      Freedom is nothing but a state of mind, and it’s triggered by doing something out of your comfort zone. It’s like jumping out of a plane (with a parachute, of course). If we had been born with wings and been flying around all our lives, it wouldn’t trigger such a sense of freedom. The interesting thing is that we have actually been born without clothes, but we’ve just been told all our lives to cover up…

      Reply
  5. Yesterday I saw episode1 of the documentary Mary Beard made about nudity in art, called “Shock of the nude”. It’s on https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7xta18 by the way. Posting here because it’s so closely related to the subject of normalizing nudity. If anyone has seen it also, I’d like to know what you think of that docu. I’ll start by saying: I feel she is looking at nudity from a very Freudian viewpoint.

    Reply
  6. Ah the everlasting questinon hah.
    Hi guys btw, how u been?
    The answer is more simple then u think and more complicated then anything for it to ever be.
    Its not like a drink, hey u want one? no?? .. ok ,maybe next time…
    This became a mindset,like .. like literally same as with laws.
    Ppl are born with already existing “laws and norms” they have to obey without being asked about.
    So how many times have u heard ,saw or even said the ever-famous 18+ thing? Like its a law, arbitrary law aka fake law, so u just take it as yes. thats good, thats they way it should be ,blabla, and many other similar things like school,how things been set up to work, and try to hop out of the norm, see where will that get ya .. its same with this.
    Its like we are in a bubble, and we thing that the walls are the end, and every person thinking they are thinking differently but they are still in the bubble , so they only think they think different but they dont.. ppl who think outside of the bubble are the ones that really think differently…but good luck with that..
    So in short, it will never happen, but in this case, maybe its for the good? i mean .. it makes it uniqe ,special…

    Reply
    • We wouldn’t dare to say that it will never happen. You’re absolutely right that it’s all about laws and norms, but these change constantly.
      Here’s a transcript of the Victorian clothing laws in the 16th century: https://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item126628.html
      We imagine that back in those days, few people every considered that wearing a purple silk scarf would be something their family would ever do, as this was a right to royals only…
      More recently, dress codes for women keep changing in the Middle East. Depending on whether a government wants to apply the Sharia laws or not, and, of course, on social norms.

      Should we keep it like this, so it’s something “special”?
      We don’t want to be special, we don’t feel special. We just would like to have “our normal” to be more accepted.

      Reply
  7. Thanks for another insightful blog post – and it’s interesting that the idea of nude shopping was raised. I’m sure none of us will live long enough to experience nude shopping at our local supermarket, but I did when we stayed at one naturist resort (Domaine de Sabliere, France). For some unknown reason, at other resorts we had visited, we were forced to dress to go in a shop (and sometimes restaurants), but not at Sabliere. I cannot tell you how wonderful it felt to do this very simple act. It was like we had finally discovered a place where the ludicrous idea that nudity is somehow a problem or might be harmful had been overcome. Maybe we have to normalise nudity in the naturist community before we can hope to normalise it elsewhere!

    Reply
  8. All great comments about what normalization is. But the title suggests next steps to accomplish it. I was hoping to read a serious dialogue about what the authors and all of us can/should do to promote a more accepting/normal response to simple nudity. How do we get people of notoriety practice or even just talk about naturism. How do we build any momentum to change the laws so that if I am sunbathing on the bow of my boat in the middle of the Bay I am not at risk of being arrested and put on the sex offender registry. What are the next steps and how do we contribute to them?

    Reply
    • You’re right, the title is really us asking the question, but we understand that it implies that we were also going to provide concrete answers. Sorry about that!

      Reply
  9. I’m not sure whether I’ve already said this somewhere on this site or whether it was different site. I have been doing what I feel is a good way to help normalise nudity for some years now. Although not everyone knows it, in the UK (specifically in England and Wales) it is not illegal to be nude in public.

    So, although I do go to an official naturist beach, I also go to other beaches and go naked there. While not intending to upset anyone or cause conflicts, I excercise my right as the law says I can, to go nude in many different public places. Mostly this is at beaches. Even at the official naturist beach I walk from the beach back to my car in the nude. I don’t go shoving it in people’s faces, but I do walk about in the nude in sight of people, mostly at a discreet distance. Sometimes however, it’s not possible to avoid close contact with someone. If I suddenly find myself face-to-face with someone I just behave normally, as if I would if I had clothes on, and politely say hello, or whatever is appropriate to the situation, and that seems to work well.

    For example, one day I was heading to an area of a beach I go to regularly. I had already walked nude for nearly two miles through a forest adjacent to the beach and I was just starting to walk over the sand dunes onto the beach via a sandy path, when a woman jogger came running over the dunes in the opposite direction on the same path. She was dressed in sportswear, leggings etc. She immediately saw that I was nude but she carried on running towards me. The path was narrow and not wide enough for two people pass. So I stepped to one side to let her pass. As she passed me she smiled and said thank you. I responded with “No problem!”

    I have had many encounters with clothed people at beaches and other places and taking that approach has always worked for me. I could recount at least 100 occasions where I interacted with clothed non-naturist people when I have been nude in a regular public place,

    Reply
    • We think that this is exactly the way forward. Don’t seek to provoke people because it will only backfire. But know your rights and take advantage of them at appropriate times and in appropriate places.

      Reply

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