AN INTRODUCTION TO NATURISM
Nobody knows for certain exactly how many naturists there are in the world, but the numbers of those enjoying a clothes optional lifestyle appear to be increasing.
Unfortunately, naturism still carries a stigma, born largely of ignorance of the truth. To some naturists are well meaning but slightly dotty individuals, who meander naked through wooded glades, pausing in catalogue poses behind strategically placed leaves. To others, they are immoral hedonists, congregating in mixed groups to enjoy pleasures of the flesh in orgy situations not seen since Caesar hung up his laurels. Or they are perverts trying to corrupt the 'normal' way of life. As with the majority of prejudices based on lies, misunderstandings and half-truths, the reality of life for the average naturist is very different indeed.
What follows is intended to put right some of the misapprehensions, play devil's advocate with some of the prejudices, and hopefully convince you that naturism can be of benefit to everyone - even you!
WHO ARE NATURISTS?
Well it could be said that we're all naturists under our clothes! Naturists come from every walk of life. You don't have to have taken illegal substances during the sixties, have every album Bob Dylan ever made, or have named your offspring Moonchild and Rucksack. Naturists might be doctors, lawyers, housewives, checkout assistants, teachers, priests - rich, poor, blue-collar, white-collar, self-employed, unemployed... anyone can be a naturist. The only qualification needed is a genuine desire to enjoy a clothes optional lifestyle!
IF GOD HAD WANTED US ALL TO BE NAKED, HE WOULDN'T HAVE INVENTED CALVIN KLEIN.
Guys, have you ever been to a tailor to be fitted for trousers and been asked what side you 'dress' on? Why do they do this? Simply because most men know that if you get this wrong, it can be somewhat uncomfortable! Any woman who's ever worn a bra will know that lifting and separating might give a pleasing outline through a sweater, but that the instructions might just as well say pinch and strangulate. Clothes often force your body into shapes and positions that don't feel natural. How many men truly enjoy wearing a collar and tie? How many women have pulled on a girdle because they really wanted to? Next time you've dressed yourself up to the nines, take a look in the mirror when you've taken it all off. Have a look at the crease marks around your waist from the belt that was too tight, or the deep gouges in your shoulders from your wonderbra, or the ribs around your shins from socks, and the redness of your little toes that have been squashed into fashion shoes.
Nudity is the most natural thing in the world. Despite the fact that the catwalks of the fashion capitals would have us believe that we cannot do without their latest creations, we are all born naked! There are those, of course, who would no doubt prefer all baby boys to emerge pre-clad in a three-piece worsted business suit, and baby girls to pop out wearing pinafore dresses and woollen tights. We live in a society that has grown to view the human body as something to be covered - even ashamed of. Naturism takes the opposite view. It sees the human body as good, normal, varied - and something that only needs covering if the owner wants to cover it. There is nothing lewd, crude or distasteful about the unclothed body.
Naturists - SEX MANIACS!
Given that naturists are representative of the population as a whole, then it's entirely possible that we number an odd sex maniac amongst us. The law of averages makes it likely that there are also several fetishists, a healthy quota of gay men and lesbians, one or two celibates and a handful of free love exponents. There are probably also quite a few naturists who gain a sexual thrill from dressing up! But all of this ignores one very important point: NATURISM HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX.
For many people, the only time they are naked with another person is before, during and after a sexual experience. So it's understandable that they would have difficulty separating the two. But separate they are.
It's a little like kissing. A kiss can be a sexual act - but it can also have many other meanings: a gesture of friendship, a welcome, a way of saying goodbye, a comforting gesture - or, if you live in Hollywood and practise the airkiss it can mean anything from 'fancy seeing you here' to 'drop dead, bitch'! You learn very quickly what is appropriate and inappropriate, depending on your audience. If you're alone with a lover, then a little tonsil hockey would be entirely correct; if you're greeting your partner's mother, then tongues are probably not appropriate.
The majority of naturist resorts are family oriented, and all are patrolled to keep away voyeurs and sort out anyone who is acting in suggestive or crude manner. Anyone staying at a naturist resort who made any overt sexual gestures or inappropriate remarks in a public situation would be asked to leave. One of the benefits of nude recreation is that it takes place in a non-threatening atmosphere, where people are free to relax and be themselves. Naturist resorts share many similarities with other kinds of resort, the exception being simply that clothes are optional for most of the activities happening there.
Can you ever WEAR CLOTHES?
It's not a question of never being allowed to wear clothes! There are lots of situations where the wearing of clothes is very sensible - and naturists don't remove their brains with their undergarments! Naturism is meant to be freeing and relaxing. If you live in Cape Town, for instance, then a long walk through the woods nude in the middle of Winter is probably not a good idea. Similarly if you are at sun resort and think your skin has had enough sun for one day, you won't be thrown out for daring to put on a T-shirt or a hat. Some sporting activities may even require the use of protective clothing.
There are no circumstances in which it is mandatory to be naked, and naturists are not campaigning for a clothes free world. They just don't see concealment as a valid reason for wearing clothes
I'M A GUY - WITH ALL THOSE NAKED BODIES AROUND, WHAT IF ..the engine starts up ?
After an hour or so in the company of new friends at a naturist resort, the only thing you're likely to forget is that people are naked at all. It just isn't an issue. Of course guys, becoming a naturist doesn't mean that your normal body responses stop. It's a fact of life that men get erections. For most they're as natural as the weather - but sometimes they can be just as unpredictable. Just when you're hoping for a depression in the midwest, suddenly all is bright, sunny and positively perky! It is, however, far less of a problem in a nude setting than you might suppose - simply because the social atmosphere in a naturist resort is very non-sexual.
If it were to happen, then it's a matter of using common sense. You'd maybe want to roll over for a little while, take a swim or practise a little strategic towel placing!
AS A WOMAN THOUGH, and It is that time of the month, PRESUMABLY I CAN'T GO NAKED.
Not true. It depends largely on how comfortable you feel. Naturists understand that menstruation is a perfectly natural part of life for all women, and you won't be singled out for special notice! The use of tampons enables women to take part in most naturist activities. If you prefer to use pads instead, or if you would just feel more comfortable doing so, wearing shorts is perfectly acceptable during your period.
LOOK AT MY BODY ! !
That's the whole point though. Naturism isn't about looking at bodies - naturists are not exhibitionists. It's just about enjoying the freedom that a clothes optional atmosphere brings. Naturism is about accepting the human body for what it is - nothing to be ashamed of. So the men don't need to hit the gym for six months, buffing their muscles to within an inch of their lives in order to gain entry. And the women don't have to look like Baywatch babes. The media is largely responsible for promoting this idea of body perfection, but the truth is that the vast majority of people do not now, nor are they likely to ever resemble this false ideal.
So for naturists there is no such thing as too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too hairy. Nobody's going to comment on the size or shape of your breasts or critically evaluate your genitalia. And if you have any surgical scars or other distinguishing marks you needn't worry - ignore them just like everyone else will. For most people, their initial discomfort disappears very quickly, once they realize they are not being judged on their appearance.
BUT WHAT DO PEOPLE GET OUT OF IT? , JUST WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
It's about relaxation, freedom from restriction - and to a very large degree, it's about honesty.
Naturists are judged on their personalities alone. They take away the trappings that most of us have around us every day. They have less to 'hide behind'. This is very healthy, because it means that friendships are built on truth - as people get used to being open with each other, there is less temptation to embellish! Many naturists form very close non-sexual friendships, with a very strong bond. Honesty also spreads to most other aspects of naturist living. At naturist resorts, thefts and other crimes are almost non-existent.
Being nude can also be incredibly relaxing. The feeling of air, sun and water on the skin is a terrific stress reliever. Most people know this, of course. Even non-naturists can't wait to rush to the coast on sunny days and divest themselves of all but a tiny fraction of their clothing! It's really not that great a step to go from wearing a swimsuit the size of an amoeba to wearing nothing at all. The extra feeling of freedom though can be very big indeed. Many people suffering from stress or pressure at work have said that being at a naturist resort is the best way of alleviating it that they know of!
Many naturists engage in sporting and other leisure activities. These can obviously have a positive health benefit, provided you don't overdo it!
And just think. Women need never worry again about turning up to a party in the same outfit as the hostess!
Is it HEALTHY FOR CHILDREN ?
Children who grow up in a naturist environment usually have far fewer hang-ups than other kids. Once again, they are not being subjected to premature sexual situations - they grow up around other children and adults, understanding that the body is not something to be hidden and ashamed of. They know anatomy of the human body, and it is less of a 'taboo' to be explored at the earliest opportunity. There are fewer incidences of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and criminal behaviour amongst nudist children than amongst other children.
Children are natural nudists too. They only begin to know that they are nude and wonder whether they should be wearing clothes because adults tell them and dress them in certain ways.
It's a very sad fact of life that there are people in society who would harm children or abuse them. Naturists are not these people. Children and teenagers within a naturist community are protected - they not only have their parents with them, but are around their peers and a group of adults who all view nudity in a natural, non-sexual and healthy way.
Being natural and matter-of-fact about nudity prevents your children from developing an attitude of shame or disgust about the human body. If parents are very secretive about their bodies and go to great lengths to prevent their children from ever seeing a buttock or breast, children will wonder what is so unusual, and even alarming, about human nudity.
- Dr Lee Salk, Psychiatrist
SO WHAT DO I NEED TO BECOME A NATURIST?
Absolutely nothing! Nudism must be the only pastime for which the only requirement is just what you were born with. And for many people it isn't just a pastime - it's a way of life. Of course, depending on what you're going to be doing, you might want to be prepared. If you're going to be exposing parts of your body that normally don't even see the light of day, never mind the sun, you might want to apply a good sunscreen. If you're going to be going to a resort, you will probably want to make sure you have some comfortable footwear, towels, maybe a sunlounger etc. You should also check out the catering facilities, as you might want to bring a picnic lunch. Basically, it's just the same as packing for a visit to the beach. You just forget to include your swimsuit.
The first time...I'M SURE I WOULDN'T KNOW WHERE TO LOOK!
You'll naturally feel a little self-conscious at first. After all, we live in a society that frowns upon displays of nudity on television, in films and in magazines - usually because of the equation of nudity with sex. So it can take a short while to get used to being in a community where nudity is not only not frowned upon, but positively encouraged!
Remember, though, that people aren't going to be judging you. They may be naturally curious at the arrival of newcomers, just as you'd expect, but the likelihood is that the welcome will be warm and your nudity unnoticed.
You might think that your eyes will betray you nd you'll be staring at people's dangly bits all the time - but you won't. In fact, at first you might be trying so hard not to, that you daren't move your head! In a very short time, though, you'll adjust to look at people normally - just the same as you'd be used to if they were dressed.
Naturist resorts are also private places. You won't be subjected to any publicity, and people won't take photographs of you, unless you allow it. In fact, certain places only permit photography in particular designated areas. Your membership of any naturist organisation will be kept strictly confidential.
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
There are a couple of resorts or even nude beaches clubs resorts )Most countries in the world now have officially designated nudist beaches - in South Africa there is Sandy Bay and also Umhlanga. Gradually, though, public opinion is changing, and naturist lifestyles are increasingly being seen as healthy and normal.
There will always be people for whom nudity is uncomfortable, even sinful. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Naturists are not trying to make everyone adopt a clothes optional lifestyle. It is an individual decision. The benefits, however, are very real.
If you'd like to take the plunge, here are a few tips:
Practice going naked at home. If you think the dog is looking at you funny, it's just your imagination... he's naked, too.
Find a naturist beach or club to attend and find out what you can about the place. Contact the club for details or checkit out n the Internet.
Know the local laws... social nudity in jail is probably not what you were looking for.
Leave your camera, radio, and pick-up lines at home.
Bring a book, a towel, and something to share.
Bring sunscreen and a hat. Some parts of your body haven't ever seen the sun, so apply the sunscreen thoroughly. If you're fair-skinned, consider bringing a beach umbrella or other shade.
Relax and enjoy the setting. You'll feel comfortable in no time.
So what are you waiting for?