Why we Choose to Get Naked (and Why Not)

Here in Benidorm, a beach town in Spain where we are staying at the moment, we are about 5 blocks away from a beautiful long and sandy beach. Yet, we barely spend any time on this beach. Instead, we take long walks or take public transport to get to nude beaches in the region, which are smaller and often less comfortable. Do we really hate clothes that much?

 

Not exactly. We don’t mind clothes. In fact, we like clothes. They keep us warm and they look nice. Everyone will probably agree that there are different types of clothes for different occasions. We have winter clothes and summer clothes. We have clothes for work, clothes for parties, and clothes that we only wear when we’re not planning to leave the house any time soon.

 

As naturists, we have realized that there’s an additional layer to this. That there are times when clothes are just useless. Times when the appropriate dress is no dress at all.

The choice to be naked

You’ll find a lot of opinions about when naturists are supposed to be naked. A popular saying is: “naked when possible, clothed when necessary”. In some cases, this is pretty straightforward. When it’s freezing and you’re going to work, it’s not really possible to be naked and quite necessary to put on some clothes. When you’re on a nude beach on a warm afternoon, being naked is definitely possible and clothes are all but necessary.

 

There’s also a large gray zone. At the end of last summer, we woke up one morning in our tent at a naturist campsite in France, and the temperature had dropped to barely 10°C. As soon as we came from under the blanket, we gathered pretty much every piece of clothing that we could find. Looking like Eskimos with the worst taste for color combinations, we got out of our tent. The first thing we see is a naked couple happily walking towards the bar for breakfast. Their walk past our tent proved that naked was definitely possible. But for us, clothes were very much a necessity.

 

We know naturists who literally have their closet next to their front door. As soon as they get home, they get naked. And they remain naked until the point that they need to go out again. When we get out of bed in the morning and don’t really have anywhere to go, we also don’t bother to put on clothes. But we definitely don’t spend every moment inside naked, even though it’s possible. Even though clothes are not necessary. Just because at that very moment we don’t feel a need to get naked. Because to us, getting naked or remaining clothed is a choice.

The comfort of being naked

Of course, there are times and places where we’ll jump out of our clothes from the first possible moment. Nude beaches are such places. First of all, because being naked is the etiquette of nude beaches, but also because clothes don’t have any use on a beach. Instead, they only provide discomfort.

 

For us, wearing clothes on a beach is like showering in a bathing suit. If you’ve ever found yourself in a communal shower where nudity wasn’t allowed or not really socially accepted, you understand the burden. Yes, it is possible to wash all your bits and pieces by just putting your soapy hand inside your bathing suit. Yes, with a couple of acrobatic moves, you can afterward wrap around a towel and change the wet bathing suit for dry clothes. But it does make you realize that life would be so much easier if you could just shower naked.

 

At the beach, the sand that finds its way into bikini bottoms and boardshorts that remain wet for hours after your last swim isn’t going to ruin a good beach day. But if the option exists to avoid his, we happily take the opportunity. Even if this requires a long walk or a bus ride.

The discomfort of being naked

Last year in Brazil, we noticed an interesting phenomenon. A woman was sunbathing naked on the nude beach, then put on her bathing suit and went for a swim in the ocean. Once she came back to her spot, she took the bathing suit off again and continued getting an equal tan. This struck us as very weird because we think that skinny dipping is certainly one of the best things about naturism. Nothing really beats a naked swim. We started to worry that maybe there was something in the water that we should know about. But given the number of other naked people in the ocean, that probably wasn’t the case.

 

The obvious explanation was that she was comfortable being naked while laying down in the sand, but that she didn’t feel much for walking naked from her spot to the warm Atlantic waters. We’ve seen many similar cases over the years. In Europe, for example, it’s very common for naturists to get dressed for dinner. Even at the restaurant of a naturist resort on a warm summer evening. When we enquire about the choice to be dressed, the response is most often that they just don’t really feel comfortable dining naked.

 

The border between comfort and discomfort is different for everyone. Some people only feel comfortable naked when their body isn’t moving. Others don’t mind playing naked volleyball on the beach but find sitting naked in a restaurant one step too far. Personally, we didn’t really enjoy our first naked yoga session. At least not at the beginning. Not that we didn’t like doing yoga without any artificial restrictions, but just because it was hard to concentrate. It was hard to think about anything else than what views we were giving the person behind us.

Embrace your body to get the best of naturism

In the end, it’s all in our heads. We didn’t care about the naked yogi in front of us, so why would the person behind us care about our bodies? The people in the restaurant are the same as those on the beach, why would they think differently about you when you’re eating than when you’re playing volleyball?

 

It’s all mind games, really. Before we volunteered at a clothing-optional campsite, the thought of being naked among clothed people was very daunting. Afterward, we felt more confident about our nudity than ever before. Before we took a naked yoga class, we were reluctant to do any sports naked, just because there’s no control over our body movements. Once we got over our initial weird feeling, we realized that there was nothing to worry about. Not with yoga or any other activity.

 

Although we mentioned earlier in the blog post that being naked or clothed is mostly a choice, it is important to ask yourself whether the choices you make are what you really want, or whether it’s just fear taking over. And there’s only one way to find out: Just try it. Just try that walk from your spot on the beach to the sea. Just try that naked dinner or yoga class. Just try getting naked.

 
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18 thoughts on “Why we Choose to Get Naked (and Why Not)”

  1. There are times when I’m home, alone, it’s warm enough, I’m not doing anything the requires protective clothing and I’m not going out anytime soon, but even so I’ll get dressed and/or stay dressed. I don’t know why it just feels right for me at that time. I don’t sweat it though. I don’t think it says I’m less of a naturist than anyone else.

    In terms of comfort, sometimes it’s about considering other people’s comfort. My wife is not a naturist. Over the years she has come to accept that sometimes I’m nude, but I know that if I overdo it she is not comfortable, so if for example I’m working in the garden and she’s in the house I may do so nude. She will likely see me, but we’re not spending our time together at that point so it doesn’t matter, but if we’re both sitting out in the garden I may wish I could be nude, but I know it would make her uncomfortable so I resist the urge.

    Her comfort levels have grown over time and I’m sure they will control grow, especially if I respectfully test the limits of what’s comfortable to her.

    Reply
    • I honestly think I am, in some respects, on the opposite end of the spectrum. I “hate” having to carry around extra clothing. Living where I do now that means that I can go “most” all winter wearing shorts, but then there is about a 2-3 week period in which its too cold to know have a jacket in the morning, but too warm later to keep it on. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I left the freaking thing at work do to this. lol My main problem though is, ironically, summer, where its so freaking hot that my only thought, while wearing the “all black” I have to for work, and pushing carts around outside for 30 minute stints, is, “Why the F would anyone in their right mind wear anything, other than foot protection, in this heat, if they where not forced to?”

      I imagine it would be a “bit” different if I was some place overly cold, but then.. I got fed up with coats a long time ago, even when I lived where we did have cold, sometimes snowy, winters, and there was a bit of time “in between” seasons in which the choice was, “Try to find something to do with the damn jacket.”, or, “Wear a thin, button up, short sleeve, beach style shirt anyway, and find part of the building, while waiting for the bus to school, which absorbed enough heat to stay warm, until I was indoors, and didn’t need to deal with it any more.”

      Man, those all steel doors they had on the building where the bus stop was, which soaked up early morning heat, and where a nice toasty warm surface to slap my back against while waiting… I think I know what cats see in sunny patches on a window sill. lol

      But yeah. Everyone has different “limits” and “conditions” they apply to things. Some of them make sense to me, knowing their situations, some of them.. are just alien and confusing to me.

      I will say that.. to some extent, I am a bit less than amused by, “making other people comfortable”. I mean, I wouldn’t be blatantly pushy about it, but.. so much of the problems with acceptance comes from, pretty much, having to, “make sure that the most prudish, clueless, confused, or obstinately certain of *our* evil intent people in society are ‘comfortable’ that, even if people like us are doing strange things some place, its at least not, ‘where they can see, or have to deal with it’.” And.. imho, this is just the social version of going on the internet and only visiting websites that repeat your own politics/religion/culture back to you, while keeping all the “freaks” safely some place else.

      I love the street fairs, the naked bike rides, and other events, when they are allowed to actually push the edges, unlike some that have been told, “We really don’t want you actually being naked/topless/etc., can’t you just talk about these things you care about without *doing them*?”, for precisely this reason. Yep, you can just avoid them, but can’t just lock it all behind a magic door, and never have to see it, if you do leave your house when its going on.

      Its kind of like what someone else commented about regarding specifically racism – you don’t see such things among people that actually *deal* with other people, and cultures, only the ones that lock themselves in a room, together, talk only to each other, and then talk themselves into thinking that everyone “different” is probably plotting against them somehow. By the same token, you don’t get people who are completely freaked out by nudism all the time, and convinced its some dangerous thing, unless they are the type that won’t be undressed any place short of their own bathtub, or shower, and wouldn’t ever even set foot in the hot tub without everyone having to wear something. It is, quite simply, lack of exposure, and ignorance that creates contempt(or hate) for others, not actually knowing anything about them, never mind the mere *existence* of them (as is suggested when someone starts barking about the mere idea of nudity as sin and temptation, for example).

      Reply
      • Well, it’s not about making sure that everyone is comfortable. But if you can get to an agreement with the majority, you can go a long way. Even though naturists/nudists are only a small minority in our society, we learned that most people don’t have anything particularly against naturism. As long as it’s not in their faces all the time. So it’s a bit giving and taking.

        Funny that you mention the days when the weather keeps changing from cold to hot and back. During the last winter months in Spain, it was exactly like that. When the sun was out, it was warm enough to be naked. But when it’s cloudy, it got too cold. On days with sun and clouds, some naturists will get naked and just bit through the cloudy moments, others will stay dressed even though it’s sometimes comfortable to be naked. Lins belongs to the first group, Nick to the latter 🙂

        Reply
  2. Despite coming in from a conservative country like India where naturist /Nudism are considered a taboo… I continued to practice nudism in-house. After moving to Germany, it’s more comfortable to get nude at certain allowed public places. Still some people see brown skin humans differently, yet they sun bath to get brown… quite strange, yet true. It’s good article and quite informative

    Reply
  3. Diversity and respect… When I read your post, those are the two words that came to mind. Every human being is different and every naturist obeys the same law of diversity. I am the kind of people you met at your campsite, walking naked when it’s cold, because nudity is, to me, more comfortable than the mild discomfort caused by low temperatures (down to a certain point). I had the same observations about dinner. When I’m in a naturist, setting, I want to be naked as much as possible and this goes to dinner and beyond, but I do respect other people choice.

    There’s however a caveat. More and more naturist resorts or campsites are becoming clothing optional, mostly for understandable economic reasons, and nudity, in those settings tend to disappear. So respect needs to go both ways, by that I mean that if it’s good to respect diversity of choices, patrons of naturist places should need to respect nudity.

    On the opposite, I would love a world that respects my choice of being naked, of walking naked on a any beach or on any hiking trail, or being naked when I want and can. Choices are ours, respect is universal.

    I enjoy being naked and my preference always goes there.

    Reply
    • We’ve also really seen the move towards clothing-optional in Europe. Especially at the more commercial resorts, and as you mention, this is indeed an economical choice. They want to also reach those who only like to be nude on the beach but nothing else, or those who have a partner that’s not into social nudity.

      In the end, we believe that this approach will help to make naturism more widely accepted. But it comes with a disadvantage: Nobody likes to be the only naked person in the room. Which seems to happen more and more at the dinner table or during sports.

      Reply
  4. Here’s a twist on the nude vs. clothed quandary you probably haven’t heard before. I’m an amateur musician (e.g., mandolin, guitar, ukulele), and I always wear clothes when I play. The reason is twofold. For starters I don’t care for the sensation of the wooden instruments against my bare skin. But the primary reason I wear clothes (at minimum a t-shirt and shorts) is to protect the wood finish of the instrument from my own sweat and body oils. I also tend to apply sunscreen when I’m outdoors (I know, good for me, right?), and the mere thought of sunscreen contaminating the finish on my precious Weber mandolin or Takamine classical guitar fills me with fear and loathing. I did play nude once a long time ago on stage at a nudist resort, and I’ll not make that mistake again.

    Reply
  5. If we are to normalise nudity, we have to break away from the misconception that nudists are militants who sneer at “textiles” and dream of a word where the concept of clothing would be completely discarded -if not outlawed.

    I’m definitely a nudist and self-identify as one. I’m comfortable with public and social nudity, I enjoy social nudity and try to avoid wearing a swimsuit. My idea of a great vacation is one where I don’t have to wear any clothes.

    At the same time, I don’t go nude all the time at home, I enjoy wearing nice clothes and will definitely visit a textile beach if it’s worth it or if my non-nudist friends will.

    It does not make me any less of a nudist.

    Reply
    • The thing is that the naturists you see and hear the most, are the activists. They have accomplished a lot of great things, but they definitely don’t represent the whole spectrum of naturists/nudist.

      We have often promoted clothing-optional before, because we identify a lot with the idea. It’s all about respect, we respect those who like to wear clothes and they respect us, who like to get naked. Of course, it doesn’t always work exactly like that, but it’s a good philosophy.

      Reply
      • I’m more in favor of a clothing optional lifestyle, if it makes sense, rather than clothing optional beaches. In my experience, here in Greece, unless you have a very robust naturist community, clothing optional beaches end up being textile beaches after a couple of seasons.

        Reply
        • We’ve noticed that in Greece and also hear about this in Spain. There are plenty of nude beaches until the tourist season starts. Then they all get overcrowded by textiles looking for places to get away from the crowds. That’s why it’s important to have a) naturist communities and b) official rules. Here in Spain, even if there are a million textiles, we can’t get in trouble for being nude on the beach. Instead, if someone complains about it, they can get in trouble. But even then, nobody likes to be the only naked person on the beach, so variety is key if we want to make clothing-optional work.

          Reply
  6. I’m glad the resort of which I am a member has a strict no clothes policy after a reasonable adjustment period to discourage gawkers. Which doesn’t mean I am against clothing optional spaces. Live and let live I say. But when you come to my resort there is strong encouragement to be naked and most people are good with the experience. The rest perhaps don’t come back. And that’s okay with me.

    Reply
    • It’s definitely good that there are different kinds of places for different kinds of naturists/nudists. But it’s very important that these venues are clear about their concept. If you expect clothing-optional and end up in a place where you’re pushed to be naked all the time, you won’t have a great experience. Or vice-versa, if you expect a balanced place where everyone is always naked and visit a clothing-optional resort, it’s not going to be much fun either.

      Some people complain that nudist venues have too many rules. And it’s true, some just have endless lists. But these rules do give you an idea of what exactly you can expect.

      Reply
  7. I really like your view on naturism and clothing, and it gives me something to use to help define my own nudism. Jumping into nudism completely, I found that freedom that most had talked about. Now after about two years of being a”full-time” nudist, I’ve accepted there are times at home that require the need for clothing, especially during the winter. At first I thought I wasn’t a true nudist if I weren’t nude 24/7 in my home, now there’s a balance to my “clothing-optional” living.

    Reply
    • Here’s an interesting idea, although it mostly applies to “naturism”. Naturism is, of course, nature-ism, which means that respect for nature is important. if you need to put the central heating a couple of degrees warmer in winter to be able to be naked, that doesn’t really help nature a lot. On the contrary.

      You see, there are so many ways that you can look at it. And eventually, it’s all about your own choice. We don’t believe that you need to fit into one certain concept to be allowed to call yourself a naturist or nudist.

      Reply

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