Why do teenagers turn away from nudism and is that such a big deal?

Toddlers are born naturists and not only literally (although they’re obviously delivered naked). In fact, they might well be the most genuine kind of naturist there is, they don’t even question their nudity. Most of them will question clothes though and if they see an opportunity to get rid of them they’ll often take advantage of that. Our memory doesn’t go that far back, but we would like to remember the day when being nude was not an option anymore. Yesterday it was completely normal to run around the garden naked, jump through the sprinklers on a hot summer day while everyone smiled and agreed with your joy. The next day this was not possible anymore… Bathing suits suddenly became the norm.
What went through our heads?
Did we question this at all?


While naturist children get a lot more options to be naked and until a much older age, they are not exactly spared from having to wear clothes, even not when weather clearly asks for the least possible textile. They have to go to school, they have to go shopping and on the non-naturist beaches a naked 10-year-old is just not done.

The difficult age

Children are adaptive and the naturist ones quickly learn that they live in two different worlds. The clothed one which includes many of their friends, their teachers, and quite a lot of their family members, and the naturist one which has other friends and mom and dad and grandma and uncle Ted.
Until about the age of 12, kids depend on their parents to make all important decisions. They might try to discuss some details such as bedtime or whether or not milk is good for you and that’s about it. But then a range of different factors suddenly come to interrupt that stability.


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Hormones start rushing through our veins and we become very insecure. Add to that a lot of important decisions that suddenly have to be made and a group of friends of whom some are slightly further in the process and others slightly behind.
You need to think about what you want to study, you need to decide which music you like, you need to find a girlfriend or a boyfriend, you need to have sex for the first time and most importantly: you need to belong. At that age, you can’t afford to make a mistake. You’re a skater and you wear baggy pants and grow your hair and listen to some kind of punk music. You’re a nerd and have to know everything about the latest games and star wars and Stephen Hawking. Being a naturist isn’t often seen as the best choice at this age. It has very little visual aspects which makes it easy to become one. Except for the nudity of course, but let that be the one thing you’re currently completely uncomfortable with.

Another consequence of these hormones is that things start to grow in often pretty weird ways and right at the moment that you start to notice these things among others as well. We probably don’t have to go into detail about which body parts we’re talking about. Naturist children have an advantage here, they’ve seen naked people in all different sizes, ages, and forms and already kinda know what’s coming. But that doesn’t make them immune to this difficult age. Their minds are bombarded from different sides and they start looking for new role models that are not mom and dad. For the last twelve or fourteen or sixteen years they’ve basically lived the lifestyle of their parents and now they want to build their own. Preferably a little bit different than before, just for the sake of it. If the parents are into naturism, this is a very easy one to step out of. It’s not something you can talk about at school anyway and now you have the chance to do something rebellious and quit a whole lifestyle. At that age, kids don’t understand that it’s actually naturism that is rebellious.


Snap and everyone has seen you naked

Bullying is not something new, it existed when we were kids, when our parents were kids, and long before them. Kids were laughed at, excluded from the “cool” group, and if you happened to have red hair and glasses you could be sure that high school was not going to be pretty.
As far as we can remember, bullying was always something on a small scale. Five kids picking on one, that kind of thing. The uprise of the phone with camera function in combination with the internet has completely changed this scene.
When we were kids, someone peeked under the door of the dressing room after swim class and told everyone that Tim had a little one. A rumor that was enough to give Tim a hard time for a couple of days until another rumor popped up. Today a cell phone goes under the door and soon kids from Sydney, Toronto, and Saint Petersburg can make a joke of Tim.

The fact that kids don’t want to shower naked anymore after the gym or any sports class is the base for many naturists to say once again that youth has become prude. We don’t believe that prudery is the main reason why they don’t want to be naked anymore among each other. Just like we don’t believe that prudery is the reason why fewer and fewer women sunbathe topless on European beaches.
Knowing that others see you naked (or topless) is not such a big deal. Knowing that one of the others can easily take a picture of you that can go viral before you even left the dressing room is something completely different. It’s a risk you just can’t take, especially not during those insecure years of puberty.


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Can we avoid this?

There is no guidebook about how to avoid that kids grow body shame, there is no way to be sure that a naturist kid won’t ever turn into a textile. Their reasons for doing so can be so different. We’ve mentioned some before: shame, fear, rebellion, having found an interesting clothed lifestyle,… To solve this we should actually tackle the problem at the very source and make nudity normal. But that’s a long way to go.
The main question is: how much does it matter?
We’ve noticed that the fear of many naturists is that their kids will turn away from naturism. But that’s what kids do! We have all been experimenting with different lifestyles when we were teenagers.
More interesting is the question of how to get them back into naturism after the puberty years are over. This is where we think the clubs and federation should focus on right now. 20 & 30 somethings. Make naturism attractive again for them and try to win a generation back.


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PICTURE CREDIT: The pictures in this article are licensed as Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) by FYN.

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15 thoughts on “Why do teenagers turn away from nudism and is that such a big deal?”

  1. Great article. Very insightful. It is sad that we lose our youths when they hit puberty. On the bright side, many of them return in their late 20’s and early 30’s!
    One of the greatest compliments a youth ever paid me was at a naturist club (although it wasn’t until later when I spoke to his mom that I realized it). He was a boy that I played with for many years starting when he was small. As he got older he came to the club Less and less, but his mother still came regularly. After not seeing him for many months he was there one day. Age 12 or 13. I saw him away from the pool area waking around fully clothed. We talked a bit and then later he came to the pool area and stripped down to play with me in the water. After we were finished he quickly put his clothes back on. Later in the day I was taking with his mom and she said, “Wow, he never gets naked when we come here anymore. I he really likes playing with you.”

  2. The funny thing is our older children are fine with us being naked around the house and at the beach, and hardly even notice it, but none of them will go nude. It seems that they compartmentalize us parents as ‘nude but non sexual’ and yet still take the lead from textile society in categorizing all other nudity as sexual or shameful. I am still hoping that it will make returning to nudism easier for them if they choose to some day.


  4. Very well written.

    Me as a non nudie i wouldnt know but from what ive learned, alots of day 1 nudist kids stop being one when they hit puberty.
    Now .. i understand if a textile one goes wierdo on nude stuff, but why does a nudist one?
    As u said, they`ve seen it all ,all kinds of older ladies baggy old men, older teens then they are ,they even may have seen some “stuff” in person here and there at a resort/camp/beach … and with all of that , they still get shyed away?
    Why? Im sure its not cause they get horny often or such cause , well they got used to seeing nude ppl ,and nudeness shouldnt be a trigger for horniness for nudies, so its been said anyway..
    As i wrote once b4 about this, i think that being shy or whatever,is a born in thing, it comes with us, and it doesnt matter about the surrounding, or the subject.
    So still there must be a lil thing inside every1 thats asking..wait.. why would i want others to see me nude?(for whatever reason).
    But as u asked .. does it matter anyway ?
    Well, yes and no .. yes cause ..well ,u woudlnt write about it and ppl wouldnt talk about it often if it doesnt matter, and no cause, nothing really matters,at the end of the day.
    But its still very interesting , they still could go , without parents? to a nude beach or camp, or similar with their friends? Or to go with parents but be totaly separated somewhere at a resort so they can be cool and not hang around with “old” ppl? ,so they only be back for food lol .. but i guess they dont do that either? Maybe cause they treat all the ppl they know for ages like family and well .. they might wanna smoke? or do weed or drink or dfkjbsdf?.. so they dont want all those ppl to see or know about all that stuff? ..
    But if all of this is a reason, all of this is natrual to try or think about, then again, why be shy about it then?

    • You asked an interesting question… is it because they get horny? This could well be a reason. Teenage boys in puberty tend to have issues with things going up and down beyond control and this could cause awkward situations. But why is the same with girls then?
      One of the things we loved as teenagers was to annoy our parents and by refusing their life choices that worked pretty well. We think that the same happens at naturist places. Also, just like you say, many teenagers like to experiment, smoke, drink, have some pot… Social control at naturist places can be a true pain in the *** for teenagers.
      But there are other reasons as well, we know that the son of one of the world’s largest promotors of naturism is interested lot in fashion. Is it rebellion or does he just happen to like it? It doesn’t really matter. Naturism is still a choice.

      • Well thats a great questions for the girls lol ,good point.
        Tho i think its all in the head, and i agree as you said, all those rules at naturist places, i dont like them either, and im not even a naturist lol ..
        But its true, when in puberty , u dont know what u like, u know what u dont like, and thats to be told what and how to do, so no matter what it is, teens will always the the oposite of what they have been told not to do, again, because they had enough of 12 13 14 years of having it their parents way, now they want it their way.
        So ya, there is so much in that.
        But as i said its also in the head .. as i mentioned, they could go alone ,to a beach or a camp without the parents..so they would be “alone” ,but i guess they dont do that either or they are not allowed to ,by their parents or the resort it self because they are ..my god .. underage..
        So if you ask me, theres alots of naturist organizations,camps,resorts fault in this as well, alot of it.
        But as i said , its in the head as well .. you recall perhaps in the mail last year when i mentioned my nephew?.. well my niece, once they came back from the beach and she was in her swimming suit and blabla all normal .. after a lil while she went to take a shower to clean up from the sand all.. when she came out she had an undie and had a bra on , and when she saw me ,she went all shy like covering up..? lol ,like wtf? she was “dressed” the same way 10mins ago! ,the only difference was the name of the “dress” ,swimming suit -vs- unides and bra .. it looks the same, but still she felt the nudies and bra were …i dunno..embarising or what?
        So ya, alot of it is in the head as well.

  5. If you follow Naked Wanderings regularly, you will have read that we have no trouble attracting youth at Bare Oaks. In my opinion, the reasons that some teens turn away from naturism are:

    1. The club does not make them feel comfortable (likely because it isn’t really about true naturist values like acceptance and tolerance of others)
    2. The club does not offer them opportunities (e.g. jobs!)
    3. Their social circles are at home with their school friends and they want to fit in with them
    4. They want to develop their own identity so they want to stay away from their parents
    5. They would rather stay home alone while their parents go to the club (freedom!)

    So at Bare Oaks, some teenagers leave because of reasons #3-5. But we actually get teenagers visiting us on their own because their parents aren’t there. (see reason #4) Over the years, we’ve had some work as staff for the summer and they loved it! But generally we prefer to hire young adults in their 20’s. They have more maturity and a better work ethic.

    • Thanks for the input Stéphane! Interestingly a part of this article was based on stories we’ve heard at Bare Oaks and the other part on our own experiences (albeit not necessarily naturism related).
      Bottom line is: teenagers want to explore what else is there other than their parent’s lifestyle. The worst thing to do is to restrict them in this because it will only encourage them. Just (like at Bare Oaks) give them opportunities to come back.

    • Stéphane ,
      I never been to Bare Oaks before (hell I just went to my first camp ground last week), but I’ve listen to your podcast for long enough, and visited the Bare Oaks website, that I think the thing that sets BO apart from the other campgrounds/resorts in North America that you run it more like nudist campgrounds/resorts run in Europe, where you plan and have activities for all ages (not just little kids and adults), and all ages show up. I’m guessing that this is in part because you are located in Canada, having both US and more liberated European influences. This proves more difficult in the US, a real catch twenty-two – resorts don’t provide activities for tweens and teens, because hardly any show up, but if they did, they might.

      I do have to cal BS on the excuse – and as started Bare Oaks proves this – as kids get older they don’t want to be with their parents but friends. While there is some truth to that, kids no matter the age, still take family vacations pretty much up to graduating high school, and even into college. What the resorts and campgrounds need to ask themselves is; why are the “traditional’ textile campgrounds a mile down the street able to attract families with kids of all ages, and we don’t?

      The second part to that is how nudity is perceived in the US – and I have to disagree with the commented below who remarked why people become nudist in the first place; to help with body shaming, something that kids growing up in a nudist household don’t have a problem with. I never had a problem with body shame, for me I just don’t understand “why” we need to cover up all the time. If you go swimming, to the beach, or camping in the summer of course you will be naked, why not? I never understood why one would wear a bathing suit. Swimming naked should just be like going to a rock concert and wearing a t-shirt of the band. We should stop saying nudist saying nudist families and just say families.

      And I know I am getting a bit off topic here, but I see the nudist moment like the gay rights moment in a way. I am gay, and I am aware that gay bars are vanishing from cities, many would blame apps for that, and I say its because being a member of the LGBT community is becoming more accepted by society. So the need for gay bars goes down, every bar in NYC or San Fran is now a gay bar. And maybe one day there would be no nudist beaches, campgrounds, and resorts, we would just have beaches, campgrounds, and resorts where everyone is naked.

      • We don’t think that Stéphane has subscribed to the comments of this blog post so he may not read yours. But let us thank you for this very thoughtful contribution.
        We had a similar experience at several nudist places, on one hand they complain that they can’t attract youth but on the other they do very little for them. Except lowering their prices sometimes. But teenagers are not going to a place they’re not interested in, even if it’s only at half price.

        It’s definitely true that naturist resorts in Europe do much more to entertain teenagers. At many resorts they get their own hangout where they can be with their friends away from the parents. We noticed that the resorts that attract most teenagers give them responsibility and the opportunity to propose (or even organise) activities that they want to do.

        About the reason why some of them prefer to cover up from time to time, we don’t think that we have to look as far as a kind of upcoming prudery. As Stéphane mentions in the podcast, many teenagers prefer to stay home alone instead of traveling with their parents. And here’s another thought: As a teenager, did you ever consider wearing the same clothes as your parents? So what when your parents are nude?
        Teenagers search for an identity and like to create an attitude. That’s not different for nudist teenagers. We’ve seen many different colours and shapes of sarongs during our travels. But in the swimming pool they have no issues being nude.

        We’ve also made the comparison with the LGBT community in the past and received the comment that being gay is not something you choose, where in many cases being a nudist is actually a choice. And that’s correct, but still it doesn’t take away that we can probably improve the general acceptance of nudity if we keep pushing forward.

        • Sorry I didn’t respond right away, but I was thinking about what you were saying (or more typed), and I get what you are saying kids want to find their own identity, and not wanting to “wear” the same cloths as their parents . For me when I was a teen it was wanting to wear black eyeliner (it was 2004, punk in the USA was big), but I don’t consider nudity as a “clothing”, or an identity, but more as ‘just how you are when it makes sense. Like swimming, why swim with a swim suit on?

          As you said before, there are many different types of nudist. If you or if you are a teen/young adult who comes from a family of hard core nudist; nude 24/7 when home from work, kids were raised when come from from school to drop their backpacks and remove their cloths , every weekend is spent at a club – then yes. I could see a kid rebelling against that. Nudity almost becomes like a religion, their parents thing. But if a kid was raised in a family that was more relax about nudity; you are welcome to remove cloths at anytime, parents do by example, could play in the garden/backyard nude on a hot day, and maybe once in awhile holiday at a nude resort or campground while also going to textile places to (Family going to Cypress Cove in FL for a 3 nights then a week at Disney resort), I can see them “sticking to it” or at least having the same attitudes or view or social nudity.

          But however I think the kids are raised, or however in between those types of social nudity families, I do think growing up they will have a closer relationship to their parents then their peers in a strictly anti-nude household. And they will feel comfortable expressing themselves as teenagers and into adulthood, without shame from their family or themselves.

  6. My 3 children grew up to be non-nudist. They probably have 3 different reasons.

    Just last week I read a blog article about how body shaming of children sometimes becomes a big part of the motivation for men to be nudists. This could work the same for girls and women. Logically then, if the child of a nudist family does not get body shamed, the child would not have the psychological need to be nudist. The nudist child has nothing to prove to himself or others by being naked. Just a thought.

  7. I was just thinking, the situation of teens opting out of nudism may be a thing of today; seems to me, it wasn’t so 30-40 years ago. I wonder to what degree it has to do with widespread technology creating an ambience of behavior and cautious influence. We often talk of times having been more “innocent,” and we know it’s true in only certain ways… but for sure, attitudes regarding nudity WERE more relaxed and carefree, not even a lifetime ago!

    So… times change. Hopefully, the pendulum swings back some day. I sure wish I’d been raised with no issues related to being nude! At least I finally came around!

    • Interesting that you mention a pendulum because that’s also how we see this phenomenon.

      Nudism got a big boost at the end of the sixties, early seventies. Young people revolted against the Vietnam war, against politics, and against the prudery of their parents.

      Teenagers from those days were only in their 30s-40s three decades ago. Which made naturism still a movement for the younger generations. But they grew older and didn’t really adapt to the needs of younger generations. Additionally, you can expect a counter-reaction from their children. Just like kids from the sixties got naked to revolt against their parents, kids from the eighties might prefer to remain clothed to separate their generation from their parents’.

      If our theory is correct, this should mean that we can expect a new revolution in favor of nudity from the millennials. It doesn’t always seem like this is happening, but in Europe, we do see a lot of growth in naturism recently among young couples and families. The pendulum is swinging back to the nude side.


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