Jan and Dave’s family, Part 3

Introduction to the story
Previous installment

Susan: Jan, that stew you served for dinner was just so wonderful! I’ve known for years that you love cooking, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed every time I’ve been able to appreciate your way with food. But this time I think you’ve surpassed everything else.

Jan: Thanks, Mom, I guess I do love cooking, but I don’t think what I do is really that special.

Susan: Oh, don’t sell yourself short, dear. I’ve been around a lot longer than you have, and I do have some sense of what’s great food, what’s good, and what’s merely adequate. There’s no doubt in my mind what you do is in the first category. I just can’t imagine how you got so good. It certainly wasn’t from me – in spite of all my years of trying. Have you ever thought of opening your own restaurant?

Jan: Dave and the kids have always been very complimentary of my cooking. And it seems like they always expect me to do better than whatever I did last time that really impressed them. I’d hate to disappoint their expectations. But as for opening a restaurant, please. I know people who’ve tried that. Almost all of them say it’s really hard work, and most of them have ultimately not been successful, after a few years of trying. Besides, around here, in a smallish town, I can’t imagine there’s much demand for a quality restaurant, even if I were crazy enough to try.

Susan: Really? Your town doesn’t seem to be that small. What’s the total population here?

Jan: Oh, about 20,000, I think. It’s big enough to have a pretty good selection of stores, a few nice neighborhoods, some good schools, and most other amenities of civilization. But I can tell you from our experience, there are only a couple of decent restaurants – not even anything like the Thai restaurant where we ate a few days ago. Perhaps that’s one reason I put the effort I do into how I cook for our family. Not to mention that I’m a foodie and certainly enjoy a good meal myself. Living in a town this size means one has to develop one’s own skills in a few areas where one can be a little bit proud of the results.

Susan: Well, all I can say is that I’m so proud to have you as a daughter. It’s not just your culinary skills. You’ve always been quite talented musically as well. You’re still giving piano lessons to a good number of students aren’t you?

Jan: Yes, even though our town isn’t that large I have been able to accumulate a few students – about a dozen or so right now. The teaching doesn’t bring in much money, but I do get a lot of satisfaction out of the progress most of my students have made.

Danielle: Maybe that’s because Mom’s a real tyrant in how much she expects her students to practice! Believe me – I know from personal experience. She insists that I practice at least an hour every day. She can’t be sure that her other students do that, but since she always knows whether I’ve practiced or not, I don’t have much choice.

Susan: I know how you feel, Danielle. No doubt there are many other things you’d like to be doing, such as putting more time into swimming practice and just hanging out with your friends. But I guess you can blame me for your mother’s insistence on piano practice. When I was about your age I really admired other kids who were really good at something like either music or sports. Unfortunately for me, as the youngest in my family, my parents just didn’t seem to expect as much from me as they did from the others. So when I had kids of my own, I was determined that they should not fritter away their time watching TV or hanging out at the mall or whatever. That’s why I expected your mother to work at becoming a good pianist.

Jan: You should be fair to yourself, Mom. It was something I wanted to do myself, because I enjoyed music and admired people who were good at it. But it is true that you made sure I never skipped daily practice, even when I’d rather have done something else.

Susan: Yes, but some of your interest in music was because I made sure we had a fair amount of good recorded music to listen to and that we often went to local recitals and concerts when possible.

Danielle: OK, Gramma, it’s good to know why my Mom may be kind of a tyrant about things. But, um, would anybody mind, since we’re all here, if I just changed the subject to something I’m kind of curious about, even though it might be a little sensitive or difficult to talk about.

Jan: What is it you’d like to talk about, dear?

Danielle: Well, you know, Mom. It’s what you and I were talking about this afternoon. You said that Gramma already knew about this, so she wouldn’t be surprised or upset about any of the basic facts.

Susan: What is it she’s referring to, Jan?

Jan: It’s about nudism – or naturism as Dave calls it – and how it’s something he’s been interested in and now wants to actually experiment with openly. I think Danielle should tell you about the discussion we had. Is that OK with you, too, Dave?

Dave: Yes, of course. I’m tired of keeping my interest in naturism a secret from people who are important to me, and who’d be affected if I become more actively involved in naturism. I’ve already told Jan it would be a good idea for both Danielle and Sean to be informed about this. It’s also fine to include Susan in the discussion, since Jan told me it’s something she can relate to as well.

Jan: I’ve also told Sean most of what I’ve told Danielle, and he’s also quite interested in learning more about this. So, Sean, are you OK if we all talk about it now?

Sean: Sure, Mom, no problem.

Jan: Good. Danielle, how about you take it from here?

Danielle: Um, OK. See, this thing about nudism or naturism all came up because a few days ago I found this magazine lying on a table in the living room. It was full of pictures and writing about people of all ages who aren’t at all ashamed or embarrassed about being naked around others – people who enjoy that, in fact.

Susan: That’s my fault, I’m afraid. Jan gave me a few of Dave’s naturist magazines to look at and read. She wanted me not to leave them around where Danielle or Sean could find them, since she wasn’t sure the time was right to discuss any of this with them. But while I was looking through one of the magazines Danielle came along and wanted to play a piece for me she’s been practicing on the piano. So I put the magazine down and forgot about it.

Jan: I suppose it’s just as well that happened, since we shouldn’t be keeping secrets from each other too long about important things. So I’ve forgiven Gramma. Go on, Danielle. What else did we talk about after you showed me the magazine?

Danielle: Well, first Mom said that Dad was interested in what this magazine was about, that he’d like to try being naked at home, and probably also doing the sorts of things that the magazine covered. That is, being naked to do things like hiking, camping, playing sports, visiting resorts just for people who like to be naked, going on vacations to places where it’s OK to be naked, and so on. Oh, and one story I read was about musicians who perform naked in front of audiences, who may or may not be naked themselves. Naturally, I found that pretty interesting – though I couldn’t imagine actually performing naked myself.

Jan: I read the same story and felt the same way. How could anyone actually concentrate on their performance while they don’t have any clothes on? Sounds really weird to me, but obviously not to everyone. Sorry to interrupt, Danielle. Go on.

Danielle: Of course, I’d never seen a magazine like this before, though I sort of knew nudists actually do exist. At first I was a little bit “shocked” that there were magazines like this that had pictures in them of people without any clothes on – people who didn’t seem to mind anyone else seeing them naked. I wondered whether this was just another kind of porn, like Playboy, only slightly different. I had the magazine for only a short time before I showed it to Mom and she explained to me about Dad’s interest in naturism. However, very soon after that discussion I started searching around on the Web for information on naturism. It turns out that there’s quite a lot – even on Facebook and places like that. The more I read about it the less unsettling and disturbing it seemed – though still fairly weird.

Jan: Danielle told me about all the stuff she was finding online about naturism, and even showed me the things she found most interesting and informative. She also admitted to me that she’d occasionally looked at actual porn, too. But I wasn’t too surprised about that. I’ve looked at online porn myself, and I know that most people do at some time or other. Just like Danielle, the more I read about naturism, the less outlandish it seemed, although it still seemed kind of weird. I saw that naturists who write about their own experiences usually insist it’s not at all sexual, just as Dave has also insisted to me.

Dave: And I firmly believe that too.

Jan: And I believe Dave’s correct, at least in terms of his own interest in naturism. But you never know what other people really think, even if they don’t admit it. Perhaps they don’t even know themselves. In any case, I thought naturists should be taken at their word, unless there’s reason not to.

Danielle: That’s what I decided too. I mean, naturists often point out that genitals are just standard body parts, like ears and knees and any other parts. Although they have a sexual function, everyone’s seen others’ genitals in pictures, and their own every day. Why should it be bad in a nonsexual context to see pictures of genitals? Or for that matter, even on an actual person, if the person doesn’t mind.

Dave: The naturist view is that innocently seeing or even discussing genitals has been an unreasonable taboo in our culture. And the taboo is definitely still there, though it may be a little less strong than it used to be. After all, these days movies do occasionally show genitals briefly, in nonsexual contexts, like when taking a bath or shower, or skinny-dipping in a river somewhere – as well as in more sexual contexts. I think it’s too bad that even in nonsexual contexts a movie can get an R rating for even a very brief show of genitals. I’ve long thought our culture is very silly about this.

Danielle: I guess the taboo on mentioning genitals is weakening. Kids my age now refer to genitals rather freely. You hear people say “dick” or “pussy” all the time, even in front of others of the opposite sex, though that does feel kind of “naughty”. Same as with most other sex words. Mom tells me that used to be pretty unusual – but it certainly isn’t now.

Sean: That’s for sure.

Danielle: One of our culture’s silly taboos requires certain body parts to be covered up almost all the time – including female boobs, which aren’t even genitals. So it’s still pretty unusual – aside from sexual situations – to see such parts on a real person of the opposite sex or usually even of the same sex, other than oneself. But it’s normal and routine for naturists or nudists. This shouldn’t really be anything to freak out about. Especially if it’s someone of the same sex.

Dave: Is it any wonder that these taboos are very frustrating for nudists or would-be nudists?

Danielle: No, it isn’t any wonder at all. Pardon me for ranting, but these taboos kind of bug me when I think about them. I mean, if I decided that I wanted to try out nudism, like Dad does, I’d be afraid to because of these taboos. Heck, if I wanted to be naked, it certainly wouldn’t be because I want to go around asking everyone to look at my pussy. If I were a nudist, or simply didn’t feel like wearing any pants sometime, all I’d want is for people not to let the sight of my vulva offend them or even be something to take particular notice of.

Susan: Yes, these are all very good points. Danielle and Sean, you probably don’t know that it used to be quite normal for people to see others completely naked in single-sex dressing rooms, in gyms or swimming pools or the like. I gather that’s more controversial now, which is unfortunate. But attitudes vary from place to place and time to time. It’s funny how attitudes fluctuate over time. At least within the family I was raised in, seeing those “taboo” parts was often just normal.

Dave: Yeah, it sure is funny, isn’t it? The basic problem is that attitudes do fluctuate even over the span of one generation, and much more so over longer time periods. But at any given time, people think that the rules have always been about the same.

Susan: Sean, What’s your reaction to your father’s interest in nudity? Have you had a look at his naturist magazines?

Sean: Um, well, yeah, they let me check out all the magazines. And like Danielle I then went searching on the Internet for more information. Naturism actually seems pretty tame to me, so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. We’ve all spent some amount of time looking at porn on the ‘net, and it’s even been discussed in my sex ed classes. But all the stuff on naturism seems totally different. In fact, if it’s really so non-sexual, I don’t quite know what could be so interesting about it to some people – like Dad for instance.

Danielle: I think Dad’s just curious about it. Some people just naturally have more curiosity than others. If they notice something “strange” or unfamiliar, like nudism, they want to know more about it. Trying it out seems like the best way to satisfy the curiosity.

Sean: I suppose so. Most of the information on naturism says you can’t really understand it until you’ve tried it. Maybe Dad is curious enough, but I don’t know if I’m sufficiently curious now to try it. I mean, there’s no big deal about being naked by yourself. I know what that’s like. But totally naked in front of other people, whether they’re friends or strangers or anything else? Could that be fun enough, instead of somewhat – or very – awkward and embarrassing? I have to wonder why guys wouldn’t have erections all the time in that situation – but the claim is they don’t. So I just don’t know how I feel about it yet.

Jan: That’s pretty much my attitude too, Sean. But there’s more to this story, and I think Danielle wants to say more about it.

Danielle: Yeah, the next thing Mom told me was that Dad has already been spending a lot of his time naked at home recently – as long as Sean and I weren’t around, or anyone else either. Since this was before the summer break from school, there was plenty of time for him to do that. Obviously Mom and Dad are used to seeing each other naked at certain times. What’s different is that now she sees him naked much more of the time.

Jan: And that wasn’t much of a problem once I got used to it. But I asked him to not be naked when you and Sean were around. Since we hadn’t had the conversation with you kids that we’re having now, I didn’t want you to get the “wrong idea” about why he was going naked.

Danielle: I can imagine what you mean by that. But now that I’ve learned what I have about naturism I don’t think there should be any problem. It wouldn’t bother me at all if he decides to be naked as much as he likes as long as it’s just the four of us. You’d feel about that pretty much the same way, Sean, no?

Sean: Sure. It’d be no problem at all for me. Dad’s naked body looks just about like mine, after all, only a little bigger.

Danielle: But I can see some obvious concerns if anyone is around except for our family here. I’d certainly worry about what friends of mine might think about seeing Dad naked. Their parents might not like it either.

Jan: I’d definitely worry about that too.

Danielle: But there’s still more that Mom told me. The next thing really did surprise me, though.

Susan: Was it about me?

Danielle: Yep. You alluded to it a couple of minutes ago. Apparently, until just a few days ago, you’d never told Mom that open nudity wasn’t very unusual in your family when you were growing up. Your family didn’t consider themselves to be nudists or naturists, Mom said. Being naked wasn’t a constant thing, but it wasn’t very exceptional or remarkable either for anyone in the family to be naked at home simply if they felt like it, for no particular reason. Is that generally how it was?

Susan: That is correct, yes. Our family lived on a farm and there was a nearby stream that was convenient for getting cooled off in hot weather. None of us bothered with swimming suits. If we had friends of either sex visiting, same thing. That was just the norm. Up until I was old enough to go to school, during the summer I was probably naked at least as often as I had anything on. Like most of my siblings I usually slept naked, although in winter there were plenty of blankets. We had only two bathrooms, so it wasn’t unusual to shower with others.

Sean: That is surprising. Was it like that as long as you lived at home?

Susan. No, for better or worse it wasn’t. I was the youngest child. So by the time I started school, my older siblings often had friends around. Consequently, none of us, including our parents, felt entirely comfortable being naked as much as we’d been earlier, even when nobody but family was around.

Sean: Did your family consider yourselves to be nudists?

Susan: No, being naked was more a matter of how we felt at the time rather than a matter of principle, as it is with people who consider themselves nudists or naturists. Because there were increasingly more friends of my siblings around, all of us just gradually stopped being naked nearly as much as before. By the time I was in middle school, the few times I went naked at home I tended to be the only one, even if nobody but family was around. I now think that was rather unfortunate, but that’s just how it was.

Danielle: And how is it now with your siblings and their families?

Susan: Well, our parents are both dead now. All of my siblings live far away, so I don’t keep up with them very well. Since I’m the youngest, all the rest are older, and only my next oldest sister still has any of her kids living at home. So I don’t really know to what extent nudity has been common in any of their families. To the best of my knowledge, none of us have actually been nudists as adults. In particular, your mother was raised in a very conventional family as far as nudity is concerned. Even if I’d still been used to nudity myself, I was quite aware that your Grampa Bill was pretty conservative in that respect.

Jan: In other words, what Gramma is saying is that the subject of nudity was hardly even mentioned in our family when I was young. It wasn’t explicitly spoken of disapprovingly very much, but it just wasn’t even something worth much discussion. So for better or worse, that’s why I feel pretty ambivalent about nudity now. But I am trying to be sympathetic to letting Dave explore it for himself. Was there anything else we discussed about nudity, Danielle?

Danielle: Um, I can’t think of anything in particular. However, I’d like to mention one more thing. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any kids I know fairly well who are in nudist or naturist families – with one exception. There’s a girl named Shelley on my swimming team. In most respects she’s pretty shy, so I don’t know her all that well. But she’s not shy at all about being naked in the changing room before and after swimming practices. And she doesn’t have any tan lines on her, so she must be naked a lot at least at her own home.

Sean: Does Shelley go to our school?

Danielle: No. I think she lives about 15 miles outside of town, so she doesn’t go to the same school as anyone else on the team. We never see her at the mall or elsewhere, except when the team is together for practices or swim meets. However, other girls on the team who know Shelley better than I do are sure she’s a nudist. She gets teased about that sometimes, but doesn’t really seem to mind. As far as I know she hasn’t talked about being a nudist to anyone on the team. However, I’m thinking I should try to get to know Shelley better. It would be pretty interesting if she really is a nudist.

Susan: Oh, yes, by all means do that. If you’re correct that she’s a nudist, no doubt she’ll be able to tell you much more about what it’s like – unless she’s reluctant for some reason or other to talk about it. Worth a try, anyhow.

Dave: I’d definitely second that. You can tell her I’m interested in naturism if you think it might encourage her to talk about it. But you don’t have to.

Danielle: Oh, I’ll do that, Dad. Thanks.

Dave: This has been a great discussion, but now I have a suggestion. Although there’s still an hour or so before sunset, it’s still plenty warm. And the pool we’re sitting so close to looks awful tempting. Anyone else care to go in with me for a dip? In any case, a little later I’ll start a fire in the fire pit and we can sit around it to talk more about anything that comes to mind.

Susan: You’ll go in without a swim suit, I presume? At least I, for one, would happily encourage you to.

To be continued.

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Posted in Dialogues, Family naturism, General naturism, Naked living, Psychology of nudity | 1 Comment

Jan and Dave’s family, Part 2

Introduction to the story
Previous installment

Susan: I absolutely love this Thai restaurant you have here, Jan. Thai food is just about my favorite, but where your father and I are living now there’s no decent Thai restaurant within 50 miles.

Jan: Well then, Mom, you’ll just have to visit us more often. Of course, we’re much more than 50 miles away for you, but I’d hope you come to visit for more than just the restaurants!

Susan: Certainly, dear. Bill and I are always delighted to hear first-hand from you on how everyone in your family is getting along – especially the kids.

Jan: I know you are, Mom, and all of us are just as happy to have you visit.

Susan: So, where should we begin? What’s new with Danielle and Sean?

Jan: Well, Danielle is getting really involved with the swimming team she’s on. Dave and I would never have guessed, but she’s turned out to be a real champion at swimming. Now that summer’s here and it’s warm enough to use our pool, she spends an hour or two every day just working at improving her speed and technique.

Susan: That’s wonderful. Has all that effort paid off for her?

Jan: Yes, absolutely. She’s regularly now the best swimmer on her team, and consistently comes in with the best or second best times when competing with other teams. But she’s still annoyed that she doesn’t come in first all the time.

Susan: You must be so proud of her. Winning competitions is a great thing – provided it’s not her only goal in life. Does Sean share his sister’s enthusiasm for swimming?

Jan: No. He does enjoy swimming too, but he knows that there’s no way he can compete with Danielle – at least not for a long time. And he doesn’t have nearly as much competitiveness as Danielle. But that’s fine. Sometimes we think Danielle is just a little too competitive. We’d like her to be a bit more well rounded. She doesn’t even seem to have started being more interested in boys, although most of her friends definitely have. Perhaps that’s because she’s better at swimming than most of the boys her age.

Susan: Well, that’s probably a good thing. There’ll be plenty of time for that in the future. Most girls seem to get interested in boys much too soon, I think.

Jan: I agree, definitely. Dave and I both think that Danielle’s focus on swimming instead of boys is certainly a good thing. Now Sean, on the other hand, is interested in a lot of different things, especially academic things. He’s always reading something or other: science, history, travel – you name it. And he’s gotten very involved with collecting things – especially rocks, model space ships, and pictures of birds.

Susan: In other words, fairly typical boy things, although the interest in birds might be a little unusual.

Jan: Perhaps, but the interest in birds is something relatively new. The rest of us joke that he may be a budding ornithologist, because he’s so serious about it. His interest in birds does affect what we do as a family, though, because he’s always bugging us to take him to someplace new where he can find new birds to identify. He can tell almost immediately when he’s come across some type of bird he’s never seen before – and he’s almost always right about what type of bird the new sighting is. He must be able to identify 100s of different species now. We’ll probably do a number of camping trips this summer just so he can look for some new type of bird.

Susan: Well, you know, both of your kids seem to take their respective interests very seriously. This is a family trait, you know. A couple of my siblings and many of my cousins are the same way. It sounds like your family fits the pattern pretty well. And that’s not a bad thing, assuming these interests don’t evolve into obsessions.

Jan: Dave and I feel the same way. We’re glad that our kids have interests that keep them fully occupied, so that they never seem bored, or never waste too much time in watching TV or playing computer games. Wait, I should take that back slightly. Sean does occasionally play some sort of space adventure games that his friends like, but he’s not very addicted. Between the two of them, they keep Dave and me pretty busy – either taking Danielle to swimming practices and competitions or Sean somewhere he can look for birds he hasn’t added to his “lifetime” list.

Susan: How about Dave? Has he developed any new avocations or enthusiasms of his own recently?

Jan: Um, not much, really. His job keeps him pretty busy, not to mention everything he and I have to do to help the kids pursue their own interests. Oh, well, I guess there is one new thing that’s come up, and it doesn’t really consume a lot of his time. I suppose I’ll have to tell you about this eventually.

Susan: Oh, does your hesitancy indicate something you’d perhaps not care to talk about?

Jan: Maybe. But I’m afraid I’d better talk about it, just so it’s no surprise if the subject eventually comes up, as it probably will.

Susan: I hope it’s nothing too bad, like a health matter or something else that might be a problem for you or your family. If it’s anything you’d rather not discuss right away, I’ll understand.

Jan: No, I’ve been thinking about how to tell someone else about this, and now that I’ve tipped my hand, I guess I’d better bring it up. See, a few weeks ago I asked Dave what I thought was an innocent question, about something that came for him in the mail – a magazine that came in a plain white envelope. I wasn’t suspicious or anything about it, just curious – figured it was probably just a catalog related to one of his hobbies. I remembered that Dave had received something like it one or two times earlier, and didn’t really pay much attention. But I never bothered to ask about it before.

Susan: So, what was it?

Jan: Um, well, it was a magazine from an organization that promotes something they call “naturism” – what most of us would refer to as “nudism”.

Susan: Oh, is that all? Just about people who like to go around without wearing any clothes sometimes? Don’t hear much about that sort of thing these days. Except for people who are trying to promote some cause or other, like protesting for animal rights or against excessive dependency on driving in congested cities. And also people who enjoy being naked in their own homes – but people don’t tend to talk too freely about what they do pretty much privately. Doesn’t seem like a very big deal to me. Does Dave want to experiment with being a nudist?

Jan: To put it briefly: yes. We’ve had several conversations about it, and he’s let me read the naturist magazines he’s received. He makes naturism sound very practical, sensible, enjoyable, and even healthful, both physically and mentally. Not that he’s actually had the confidence to try it yet. Apparently most of what he “knows” about naturism is what he’s learned from the magazines and many things he’s read on the Internet.

Susan: Has Dave told you what steps he’s considering in order to experiment with nudism to see whether he might enjoy it?

Jan: I didn’t ask him that right away, and maybe he didn’t have specific ideas, or perhaps he didn’t want to mention them out of understandable concern about what my reaction would be.

Susan: I hope he gives you at least a little advance notice when he decides to do something. Surely you’d want to weigh in on his plans.

Jan: Yes, of course. And the kids should know too.

Susan: What was your initial reaction on learning of Dave’s interest in nudity?

Jan: Well, I didn’t really know how I should react. I mean, from what I’ve since learned it doesn’t seem that going naked sometimes and doing the things that naturists say they like to do is especially illegal, immoral, or fattening. But personally, I just couldn’t fathom why people would be interested in that sort of thing – except, of course, if there’s a sexual angle to it. And Dave, the magazines, and what I’ve read about it on the Internet all claim there’s nothing sexual about it.

Susan: I think that’s credible. I’ve read a few articles in newspapers or magazines about things that a few people like to do naked, such as naked yoga, and even getting their naked bodies painted right in the middle of Times Square – if you can imagine that. Some people also claim there are health benefits and psychological benefits, such as accepting your body as it is and not being ashamed of it. But they always emphasize that – in their opinion – it isn’t sexual.

Jan: Yeah, Dave has mentioned such things to me in our discussions. So for the sake of argument I’ll assume that doing such things naked isn’t sexual. But even then I still can’t understand why most people would want to take it seriously and actually do a lot of things without wearing any clothes. Going to nude beaches, or swimming in a private pool, or getting an all-over tan, perhaps. But I just can’t comprehend the appeal of being completely naked to socialize with other people, go camping or hiking, or participate in sports. It just seems pretty weird to me. Sure, it evidently appeals to some people – including Dave, I’m afraid. But right now it’s more than my fairly conventional mind can boggle.

Susan: Has Dave pursued this interest in nudity since your first discussion?

Jan: Yes. In fact, after checking with me he’s increasingly been naked around the house and in the back yard, including the pool. Fortunately, our back yard is fairly private, though neighbors might see in a little from a few angles. Of course, I’m completely used to seeing Dave naked in our bedroom and bathroom, and he’s just as used to seeing me naked there. We’ve never been especially hesitant about being naked with each other – in the usual circumstances. So I told him I don’t mind if he’s naked as much as he likes when it’s just the two of us.

Susan: What about when your kids, or anyone else, is around?

Jan: Well, that’s where I asked him to draw the line. I’m rather concerned what the effect on either Danielle or Sean might be if Dave were naked around them. And regarding anyone else – let’s not even discuss that step yet. Maybe it’ll never come to that. I know Dave wants to be cooperative, so he agreed to that restriction. However, now that it’s summer, there’s seldom any reason to wear clothes just to be warm. And on top of that, the kids are out of school, so they’re around much more of the time. So I know Dave isn’t too happy about the restriction.

Susan: OK, so what concerns do you have about your kids seeing Dave naked often or even occasionally? I can imagine what those might be, but can you be more specific?

Jan: Fair enough. I think Danielle and Sean have had good sex education in school. Both Dave and I have also seen to it that they have other things to read on the subject. So they know most of what they ought to know about sexual anatomy. I’m not worried that either of them will freak out or react badly if their father’s genitals were often on display. But, I don’t know, they might easily draw the wrong conclusions about what Dave’s intentions are by going naked around them. Let’s just leave it at that.

Susan: Are you afraid that simply seeing one of their parents naked often could be psychologically harmful somehow?

Jan: According to the little I’ve read about naturism so far, the claim is that there’s very unlikely to be any harm to kids from seeing either of their parents naked often. But I can’t help thinking it’s a fairly risky thing. Why run that risk?

Susan: Fair question. I suppose it depends on whether there are also potential benefits too. Are you also worried they might get interested in going naked themselves, either at home, where at least you can supervise them, or possibly elsewhere you might not know about?

Jan: Yeah, I suppose so. I can’t even guess whether being naked either inside or outside our home might sooner or later appeal to them. However, Danielle and Sean could be concerned about having friends visiting our home if Dave were likely to be naked. Or – however unlikely – if I were too. For instance, their friends’ parents might object to that. And even if that weren’t a problem, our kids might well not want to be naked themselves around their friends, for fear of simply being considered weird, perhaps dangerously so. Casual nudity around anyone who’s not very closely related is so uncommon – or thought to be – that the strangeness of it is enough to scare most people I’d think. Wouldn’t you agree?

Susan: Jan, I have a confession to make. I’ve never talked with you about this subject, since bringing it up never seemed relevant. But I guess I’d better let you in on a few things at this point. I don’t think that my parents were nudists, not exactly anyhow. It’s possible that they had visited nudist places or nude beaches at times, but they never revealed that to me, or to my siblings as far as I know. However, my earliest memories are that everyone in my immediate family was pretty casual about nudity. Before I was in kindergarten I usually wore little or nothing at home, and to some extent or other my older siblings and my parents did likewise. So even being completely naked at home seemed pretty normal to me. I never as much as questioned it. If anyone happened to be naked, then that was fine and hardly worth noticing.

Jan: Wow. I’m surprised you never mentioned that to me. Was it like that the whole time you were growing up?

Susan: No, only for my first few years. We kids were often naked at home when we were young if we wanted to be. Being naked from time to time just wasn’t unusual, especially during the warmer parts of the year. But as we became old enough to go to school, we gradually began to stay dressed more of the time, since as far as we could tell that’s what almost everyone outside the family did.

Jan: Did your parents actually tell you that nudity wasn’t as normal as you’d assumed it was?

Susan: Yes, but they didn’t make a big deal about it. They simply said that wearing clothes was the custom with most people both inside and outside of their families, and that it’s just considerate to be respectful of other people’s customs.

Jan: Were your parents often naked when only others in the family were around?

Susan: Less and less as time went on. Since I’m the youngest, they were naked less than, oh, maybe a quarter of the time when I was the age of your kids. I eventually caught on that the older someone is, the less likely they are to be naked. I realized that my parents and older siblings weren’t naked as often as the younger ones in the family. And we realized pretty quickly that the enjoyment of being naked after a young age was almost unheard of in the families of our friends. Certainly nobody ever said otherwise. Yet we were never surprised to see either of our parents naked. And we never objected.

Jan: But if you didn’t know other families where nudity was enjoyed, weren’t you curious about that?

Susan: Sure. My older sibs asked them why it didn’t seem like anyone else’s family enjoyed nudity. So they explained that nudity was sort of a taboo in our society, at least away from immediate family. They said this was unfortunate, since they considered nudity to be just fine, and there was nothing inherently wrong with being naked, provided everyone “behaved” themselves properly. They lamented, however, that the enjoyment of nudity was simply a matter of personal preference, and sadly, that preference was too uncommon in our society.

Jan: So that’s why you and your siblings eventually didn’t continue to go naked, at least outside of immediate family?

Susan: Yep. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple. As my sibs and I got older there were friends visiting more often, and it was awkward – even embarrassing – to explain why there would be naked kids around. Even if our friends could accept that, they’d probably tell their parents and others that nudity was common in our family. There were certainly various times this caused problems. But most of our friends didn’t seem to mind our nudity, and their parents usually were still willing to let them visit. In fact, some said they wished their parents would let them go naked at times. I know of some friends who actually got permission. Our parents would usually be asked about the nudity. They always assured everyone who asked that “proper” behavior was insisted upon, and this assurance was generally accepted.

Jan: I have no difficulty seeing how that would be pretty tricky to deal with – so that the hassles could become distracting enough to reduce time spent naked as time went on. I’d definitely worry about that if Dave or my kids wanted to be naked while there were visitors.

Susan: Right. Basically, I guess, we wanted to “fit in” with everyone else, and there didn’t seem to be anywhere outside our family home where nudity was as well tolerated. So we came to think that while our family’s tolerance of nudity was fine, it wasn’t “normal” in most families. Our parents didn’t discuss nudity very explicitly with us, so we never realized there was this thing called “nudism”, where enjoying nudity was an actual option in the “real world” under “appropriate” conditions. Consequently, we didn’t understand there are ways we could continue to go naked if we wanted to.

Jan: And so you and Dad never established the same tolerance of nudity in our family as you experienced while growing up?

Susan: Yes. And now I kind of regret that, especially since you seem to be having trouble getting used to Dave’s interest in casual nudity. I think Bill and I made a mistake in that respect. In fact, it wasn’t anything we even seriously discussed. The subject hardly ever came up. See, Bill grew up in a family quite unlike mine – one that had much the same disapproving attitudes towards nudity – except for very young children – as the rest of our society. He did make disapproving remarks when he read news reports of people going naked in public or even with others at nude beaches or nudist clubs. Rather unkind things like “Most people look pretty bad without any clothes on, so nobody wants to see them.” So it didn’t seem worthwhile to tell him about my family or argue about whether there was anything wrong with nudity among people who enjoy it.

Jan: So I assume nobody in your family has ever been naked or even discussed nudity in Dad’s presence.

Susan: Not that I can recall. I’ve told them how Bill feels. Our parents didn’t raise dummies. They’re all quite aware of our society’s prevalent attitudes concerning nudity, and they try not to impose nudity on anyone for whom that would be unwelcome. Occasionally I’ve considered telling Bill how nudity was common in my family when I was growing up, and the fact that my parents continued to enjoy nudity. But I always decided against that, so we didn’t follow my family’s example when raising you and your siblings. I’m afraid I have to apologize for that, in view of how you’re now having this issue with Dave.

Jan: I guess that means Dad might not be too happy if he finds out anyone in my family gets seriously interested in being naked a lot.

Susan: Yes, that could be. But that certainly shouldn’t influence what you and Dave decide to do about nudity in your family. That really isn’t any of Bill’s business. And I won’t hesitate to tell him that if the issue comes up.

Jan: Well, the history is all water over the dam now. Dave and I have raised our kids pretty much the way Dad and I were raised, as opposed to your own experience. Even if I should decide that casual nudity isn’t so much of a problem as I’ve assumed, isn’t it too late to adopt a much more tolerant attitude towards nudity the way Dave appears to be interested in?

Susan: I’m afraid I can’t answer that for you, dear. You and Dave will need to work it out between yourselves. I’ll just say this: I don’t believe that the casual nudity my siblings and I experienced growing up had any bad effects on us that I’m aware of. Perhaps, however, we’re not a typical example. So you’ll have to figure out what’s best for the four of you.

To be continued.

Posted in Dialogues, Family naturism, General naturism, Naked living, Psychology of nudity | 1 Comment

Jan and Dave’s family, Part 1

This is the first part of a series of conversational dialogues to be posted here. All of the people here as well as the dialogues are completely fictional. These don’t necessarily resemble discussions that people have actually had about naturism and living a naked lifestyle. But I do think they might be realistic, and the purpose is to offer some examples of the kind of discussions you might have with other people – who might be uninformed or skeptical – about this general topic. If you recognize any of the situations to be similar to any you have been in when discussing your interest in naturism, then perhaps you might pick up a useful idea or two on points to make.

The central figures here are a family of four: parents Jan and Dave, and their children Danielle and Sean, who you may assume are pre-teens or young teenagers. Other characters will appear as the story develops. Some will be naturists. The rest will be non-naturists, most of whom may be uninformed or skeptical about naturism, yet still curious and open-minded about it.

There’s a lot that happens pretty quickly in these dialogues. Things in real life would hardly ever happen as rapidly. But then, you wouldn’t want to be reading for months at at time to get the picture.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’ – Lewis Carroll

Jan: Honey, I just picked up the mail. These things are for you.

Dave: Thanks, Jan.

Jan: What’s that in the white envelope? It just says “N” on the outside.

Dave: Oh, um, that’s the Naturist Society magazine.

Jan: “Naturist”? You mean that nudist stuff you were interested in last summer?

Dave: Well, yeah. “Naturist” and “nudist” are pretty much different names for the same thing. “Naturist” sounds a little better, not as corny as “nudist”.

Jan: OK, but it’s still just about people who like to run around naked, no?

Dave: Yeah, but that’s not really a fair way to describe what naturists do. It’s a lot more than just “running around” without any clothes on.

Jan: Oh? Isn’t that what you were doing a little last summer when you were just doing normal things, except for being naked?

Dave: No, not really. I mean, naturists do a lot more than that. I subscribed to the magazine to learn more about naturism.

Jan: OK, I’ll bite. What else do “naturists” do?

Dave: Well, there’s lots of different things. But everyone has different favorites. Some people go on luxury cruises in the Caribbean. Some visit clothing-optional beaches in California or Florida. Some go camping and hiking in the woods. Some go to naturist clubs around the country. Some go on nice vacations in France, Germany – places like that where naturism is considerably more popular than in the U. S.

Jan: And they’re always naked doing stuff like that?

Dave: Sure, most of the time, anyhow. That’s the whole point – they say it’s much more fun doing such things naked.

Jan: Maybe, but it all sounds pretty weird to me. I mean, I wouldn’t mind doing all those things you mentioned. I just really don’t get what’s better doing all that stark naked. How does being naked make things like that more fun? Is it an erotic thing?

Dave: No, not really. Not at all, in fact. Just because someone’s naked doesn’t automatically mean they’re looking for erotic kicks.

Jan: That’s exactly what I don’t get. How can you be naked along with a lot of other people and not be thinking constantly about sex?

Dave: Naturists swear they don’t.

Jan: And do you really believe that?

Dave: Yeah, I guess I do. At least I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

Jan. Oh, come on. You don’t really know, do you?

Dave: No – but I haven’t had any chance to actually try naturist activities so I could find out.

Jan: You mean you weren’t thinking about having sex with me when you were going around the house totally naked last summer?

Dave: I think that’s kind of a trick question. I’ll be damned if I say “yes” and damned if I say “no”.

Jan: So you mean you weren’t thinking about having sex with me then?

Dave: No, really I wasn’t. I mean, see, we have sex when we’re both in the mood for it. If it had seemed like that was the case, I might have wrestled you to the floor and we’d probably have started screwing within seconds. But you were just going about your business, and I was doing the same. Only I didn’t have any clothes on.

Jan: Well, if you say so. I still have to say I thought it was pretty weird how you were waking around naked and didn’t even ask me to give you a BJ. But I was glad that at least you didn’t go naked in front of the kids.

Dave: Oh, get real. How about giving me a little credit? I’m not crazy enough to do something like that. At least, not without discussing it with you first.

Jan: Guess I’ve gotta be thankful about that, I suppose.

Dave: Look, Jan. I suppose we should have talked more about this at the time. But I was just trying it out. I appreciate how you didn’t make a big fuss about my nudity. I assumed you didn’t mind what I was doing all that much. I was hopeful you didn’t think it was actually any big deal.

Jan: Listen, Dave. I see you naked all the time when we have sex. It’s not like nudity is somehow or other shocking to me. I’ve seen enough guys naked, you know. It’s no problem, at the appropriate times. What’s the big deal about seeing a guy’s dick once you’ve slept with him a few times?

Dave: No big deal, of course. And it’s no big deal for naturist women, either, I’m sure. We’re adults. We know what adults of the opposite sex look like without clothes on. So what’s the problem?

Jan: No problem at all, since you’re my husband – as long as the kids aren’t around, of course. So how come you didn’t keep on going around naked? I probably wouldn’t have objected, even though I thought it was weird you were doing that.

Dave: Remember, I was just experimenting. And the kids were around a lot, since school was out for the summer. I see now I should have tried to be naked as much as possible, though. At the very least I should have discussed with you my curiosity about how I felt being naked when doing ordinary, everyday things. But I suppose I didn’t because I was just experimenting and wasn’t really ready to talk about naturism at the time.

Jan: So it seems like we need to do it now, instead.

Dave: I think we have been talking about it for the past few minutes.

Jan: And I think I need to look at some of the stuff you have on this “naturism” you’re interested in. Can I see that magazine you just got?

Dave: Sure. I’ll open it right up.

Jan: Hmmm. The envelope doesn’t give any hints as to what it’s actually about. Must be they think people who get their magazine want to keep it a secret.

Dave: Well, you have to admit the idea of social nudity is likely to be controversial for quite a lot of people – including yourself, I’m afraid.

Jan: (Leafing through the magazine Dave handed her.) Wouldn’t you think it’s not in their best interest to be so secretive about naturism?

Dave: Yeah, I suppose so. It’s pretty sad, actually. 30 years ago any publicity about gay or lesbian people was very controversial. There was the big panic and uproar about AIDS and homosexual threats to society. And now what? Gays and lesbians are getting married to other gays and lesbians, and away from the craziest parts of the country, that’s considered just fine. Nudism and naturism are really far less of a radical thing – but just look at how taboo the idea still is.

Jan: This magazine is pretty nicely done. Doesn’t look cheap at all. But of course, I’ve never seen anything like it on a magazine rack at the grocery store – even though in some ways it seems tamer than various women’s magazines on those racks. They have so many stories about how to have “the best sex ever” with your husband or boyfriend. But this one has naked people right on the cover – men and women, full frontal. I guess that’s why I’ve never seen it on the racks.

Dave: Yes, of course.

Jan: And there doesn’t seem to be much of anything very sexy inside – just a lot of naked people, who don’t look very sexy at all. In fact, most of the people look like senior citizens. Seems like hardly anyone in the pictures is younger than, oh, 45 or 50. Are most naturists just too old to be very interested in sex?

Dave: I rather doubt that. But since I’ve never seen a group of naturists in real life, I don’t know what to tell you about what the typical age is, let alone how interested they are in sex.

Jan: And I haven’t seen any kids at all in any of the picture here. Do naturists discourage families with school-age children from becoming involved with naturism? Are they afraid of the effect on kids of seeing adult nudity?

Dave: Well, apparently you’re concerned about that effect yourself. Yet there’s a lot written about how naturism tries very hard to be “family friendly”, and it’s supposed to be very safe for kids and adults all to be naked together at home or at naturist beaches and other places. But I have to admit, it’s hard to reach that conclusion based on pictures in the magazine.

Jan: Interesting. There’s an article in here about someone’s experiences on a “clothing-optional” luxury cruise in the Caribbean, just as you mentioned a little while ago. I’d like to read that. Would you mind?

Dave: No, not at all. I think it would be good for you to look through the whole magazine. Would you actually consider going on a cruise like that?

Jan: Ha! Don’t you wish! Would I be expected to be naked, at least part of the time?

Dave: Well, it’s described as “clothing-optional”, so I imagine the answer is no, you wouldn’t have to be naked. But I don’t really know whether there’d be any pressure to strip off completely.

Jan: It’s not bloody likely I’d be comfortable on a cruise like that in any case. Not only are most of the people in the cruise pictures naked, they’re mostly as old as our parents. Somehow I just can’t imagine myself, even with a bikini on, mingling casually with nobody but people like that all around, and all their saggy parts jiggling every which way – even though I assume that they’re all actually very nice people, if one can overlook all the nudity. I’m not sure I’d care to see my own mother stark naked like that.

Dave: I’d hope that those pictures aren’t typical of all naturist activities. But now I’m even more curious to participate in actual naturist activities to see for myself what they’re like. Would you object to that? I wouldn’t expect you to come along, if you don’t want to.

Jan: No, I won’t object. You’re obviously curious about this, so you might as well try to satisfy your curiosity – if only so you can get it out of your system if it isn’t what you’d like it to be.

Dave: Thanks. I don’t really have any plans along those line right now. As it’s still cold outside, I imagine there aren’t a lot of opportunities for awhile yet. I have plenty of time for more research to find activities I might like.

Jan: Do you have other issues of this magazine, or is this the first?

Dave: No, I have two more.

Jan: If you tell me where you keep them I wouldn’t mind looking through them myself. But I think it best not to leave them out where the kids can find them.

Dave: They’re in my desk. Lowest left-hand drawer.

Jan: Fine. I’ll take a look. But right now I’ve got several loads of wash that need to be dealt with.

Dave: (Smiling) If I or others in our family went naked, there’d be less wash to do.

Jan. OK, smart alec. It’s fine with me if you go naked as much as you like around here. But it does seem rather cold to be very comfortable for you if you do. Just keep some clothes on when the kids are in the house. Capiche?

Dave: Yes, of course.

To be continued.

Posted in Dialogues, Family naturism, General naturism, Naked living, Psychology of nudity | 2 Comments

Review of A Brief History of Nakedness by Philip Carr-Gomm

Philip Carr-Gomm’s book, A Brief History of Nakedness, published in 2010, is impressive on several accounts. It is well-researched, well-written (though the organization of topics could be better), and illustrated with many color and black-and-white photos that are quite relevant but must have required much diligence to locate. Some of its conclusions are prescient. But there are important questions about the selection of topics it discusses.

A vast range of relevant topics are mentioned or discussed, as this quote suggests:

You can skydive, bungee-jump, get married, perform stand-up comedy, or karaoke, take yoga classes, join magic rituals, visit public swimming pools on “nude nights”, go to the cinema, bask in spas, or be body-painted in the nude. You can risk a holiday in “Naked City” at Cap d’Agde in the South of France, bathe naked in a private club or dine out in the nude in New York or Edinburgh, sunbathe in parks in the center of Berlin or Munich, go clubbing at the “Starkers” disco in London, work out in the nude in a Dutch gym, go on a naked cruise or hike in New Zealand or fly to your holiday in the nude on a German airline. [pp. 16ff]

Some of the discussions touch on sensitive topics, such as “The Genital Liberation Movement”. This appears to be mainly the author’s term. It doesn’t mean the flaunting of one’s genitals, but simply the waning of taboos related to genitals, which is implicit in tolerance for non-sexual activities engaged in when one is fully naked. In short, exposure of genitals in such activities is increasingly unaccompanied by feelings of shame or embarrassment, on the part of naked people, or feelings of shock or alarm, on the part of others who happen to see someone naked. Genitals are considered simply body parts that everyone has and that aren’t at all objectionable in themselves. (Clearly, though, there are still many publications and online sites (like Facebook) that try to “protect” closed-minded members of the general public from ever seeing or thinking about genitals, so such progress is merely relative.) Related to this is the trend to make shaving of pubic hair a matter of personal preference, like the choice whether to shave any other body hair.

A topic that should have been covered in more detail involves other psychological issues related to nakedness, in particular the relationship between nakedness (and the degree of comfort associated with it) and body acceptance, both of one’s own naked body and the body of others. This has been a hot topic for some time among people who are favorable towards nudity. The omission is especially surprising, since the author is (among other things) a psychologist who has “trained and practised as a psychotherapist”. Perhaps he may someday devote an entire new book to relevant psychological issues. Or perhaps he never intended to do more than describe many diverse aspects of nakedness in historical and contemporary culture, instead of delving into the psychology of it.

One would, however, think that a relatively recent book of such scope would devote many pages to details of the ups and downs of organized nudism/naturism (or just “naturism”, for short) in the 20th century, no? If so, one would be wrong. This book covers the topic in only about 10 pages in the middle of a chapter on political issues related to nudity. “Nudism” isn’t included in the index (along with a number of other things that should be there too but aren’t). The brief discussion doesn’t get into anything related to organized naturism after the mid-1930s. And this neglect exists even though the book reflects sometimes awesomely thorough and well-referenced research on the history of nakedness over a period of more than 2000 years. Of course, 100 years out of 2000 isn’t much – but far, far more is known about nakedness in the past century than in the rest of the previous two millennia.

The observation of this neglect isn’t necessarily a criticism of the book. Instead, it might be an indication that naturism is only a small, perhaps not very important part of the overall history of human nakedness. But before examining that thought, one point should be noted. In a brief postscript to the book the author reveals that it was only a little less than a decade before the book’s publication that he “had discovered the simple pleasures of baring all”. This, he explains, came about during a “chance visit” to Britain’s storied Spielplatz while doing “research for a biography”. In other words, the author had no long personal experience with naturism. Yet it’s obvious from the profusion of relatively obscure details about other aspects of nakedness, and the research effort required to uncover such, that the author must have spent most of his research time during that decade on almost any relevant topic but naturism.

Does this circumstance indicate the author didn’t care all that much about organized naturism or that he considered it of little importance? We don’t really know, since he never actually discusses this point. There are also several other topics that might seem relevant, but that receive almost no comment in the book. One is the efflorescence of displays of full nudity in cinema (in the U. S. and internationally) beginning in the 1960s. Such displays have been almost always brief, even though they usually earned the movies in which they occurred at least an “adults-only” rating, or even a XXX porn rating. Currently, brief scenes of both female and male nudity in movies dealing with romantic or other adult themes are almost de rigueur.

That’s just as it should be, since humans really do get naked a lot in romantic and various other circumstances. Oddly, however, movies in which one or more characters are naked in most scenes throughout the movie are quite rare. That’s somewhat to be expected – yet many people, who don’t necessarily consider themselves naturists, do actually spend many hours of their time naked in the privacy of their own homes or with friends. This is especially true of wealthy elites, especially popular celebrities, who (fictionally or not), are often leading characters in movies. Why are there almost no movies in which one or more characters are casually naked in anything but sexual scenes? Carr-Gomm, however, has almost nothing to say about such issues, or nudity in cinema more generally. (Except for two movies where nudity is the main subject – Calendar Girls and The Full Monty. And in those two cases, full-frontal nudity is avoided.)

There’s one other relevant topic, which the author avoids altogether – namely the profusion of erotic nudity in publications like Playboy and its imitators since the 1950s. That phenomenon, of course, is only tangentially, at most, related to naturism, though it arose in the same time period. What it does indicate is that nudity (of an erotic flavor) is of significant interest to large segments of the population (albeit mainly among males). In addition, during the past 60 years such nudity has become increasingly explicit, especially after the near disappearance of a taboo on depictions of pubic hair or penises in both sexual and non-sexual contexts of nudity.

Other topics Carr-Gomm doesn’t examine could also be mentioned. One is the increasing acceptance of nudity in Western painting and sculpture since the Renaissance – in the tradition of artists like Michelangelo, Titian, Rubens, and many others. This trend has only increased, with nude sculptures often featured in many public places. In photography, the popularity of artistic nudity (both erotic and otherwise) has grown rapidly. Many “ordinary” people often display in their homes without embarrassment artistic paintings, sculptures, and photography that feature nudity. The author has nothing to say about any of this.

Why spend so much time discussing what topics are omitted by the author, as opposed to what is included? Not only are the omissions curious, but they have a few things in common, especially when compared with topics that are covered. There is a wide variety of the latter. It includes many instances that are hardly if ever mentioned in other histories of nudity. This includes many examples of religions or religious practices that have featured nudity. Some of the these are well-known, with examples as diverse as Wicca and Druidism (in which the author has some interest) and Jainism. Others, less well-known, include the Kashmiri woman known as Lalla, who was influenced by both Hinduism and Sufism, and various Christian and Jewish sects. Another broad category includes the use of nudity in social or political protest. This includes very diverse examples such as (the legendary) Lady Godiva, the persecuted Russian Doukhobors who emigrated to Canada, and much more recent examples such as WNBR bike riders and nudity of the PETA animal-rights group.

There’s also a lot about nudity in live artistic performances such as theater, music (even opera), dance, and “installations”, including Spencer Tunick’s, which often feature a cast of hundreds or thousands of completely naked volunteers. And there are many other diverse examples of open, public nudity – rock concert attendees, hippies, streakers, (some) Burning Man attendees, fashion show models (ironically), artistic life models, and so on and so forth.

What can we generalize about the topics that are treated in the book, and other relevant topics that are (mostly) ignored? One thing that stands out is that the author favors topics where the nudity involves live participants and is fairly open and visible to observers, even sometimes to the general public. In contrast, depictions of nudity in painting, sculpture, cinema, and photography are rather little discussed – even though they have become increasingly more common in recent years.

So, where do naturists and naturist activities fit in all of this? As far as Carr-Gomm is concerned, apparently they don’t. This seems like a striking anomaly, since naturists – especially those who favor skinny-dipping at clothing-optional beaches and similar places – receive hardly any mention, in spite of openly enjoying their nudity, at least in groups of like-minded others.

How could we explain this anomaly? There are various possibilities. It would seem that the author is partial to nudity involving people who are open about full or partial nudity in “real-life” situations where others, who aren’t naked themselves but are tolerant of nudity, are present. Additionally, it helps if there is some understandable and worthy “purpose” to the nudity – such as entertainment of an audience, being a subject of artistic visions, political or social protest, religious observance, demonstration of body acceptance, efforts to improve mental and/or physical health, etc.

Although the author doesn’t explicitly state such a preference, and may not have been consciously aware of it, there is a fairly clear bias evidenced by his choice of topics. Could it be that many other people, who don’t necessarily identify as naturists but who have devoted at least some time to serious thought about nudity and nakedness also have a similar bias, whether consciously or not? If so, what would the implications be for naturists?

Organized nudism/naturism seems to be facing lots of problems, such as the declining popularity of nudist/naturist clubs, resorts, and grass-roots organizations (YNA just decided to fold, for example), the loss of clothing-optional beaches, the waning influence and membership of and the internal political strife within regional, national, and international nudist/naturist organizations. Perhaps anyone who laments such trends should think about the questions raised in the previous paragraph.

In defense of the book, it should be said that there are important issues about nakedness that are difficult to research, because they involve private behavior that is hardly ever studied and then well documented in public sources. Such questions include:

  • Just how common is it for individuals and families in a particular culture to be naked at home or when socializing with others who also enjoy nudity?
  • How many people who haven’t (yet) developed an enjoyment of nudity are at least tolerant and accepting of their friends and relatives who enjoy being naked?
  • How many people who enjoy nudity are willing and able to do so at public clothing-optional beaches or camping/hiking areas where nudity is tolerated?
  • What personal characteristics or life histories distinguish people who have tolerant or favorable attitudes towards nudity from those who don’t?

There are plenty of similar, related questions that would need careful investigation by trained psychologists and sociologists to answer properly, so it’s no knock on Carr-Gomm’s book that it doesn’t address them.

Posted in Book reviews, General naturism, Questions | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Enhance your life with nudity?

So, you’re reading this now. Perhaps you were just randomly browsing. Or used a search engine. Or followed a link you came across on Twitter or Facebook. In any case, if you’re still reading, it’s not unfair to assume you’re interested in the topic, or at least curious about it. So I’ll assume that.

Perhaps, in fact, you have personal reasons for wondering and learning more about nudism or naturism. To be clear, I generally use those terms interchangeably, since there’s little agreement about how they differ. Sometimes I’ll also use “social nudity”, which means being naked in a group (of any size) of people who’re also comfortable with being naked around others. That’s a little more general than either “nudism” or “naturism”, which to some people suggest simply enjoying being naked in the privacy of your own home.

There could be several reasons why social nudity arouses your curiosity or interest. Maybe you simply wonder how people could want to get involved in such a thing. Maybe you actually know one or more people who are actually involved. Or maybe you wonder whether it’s something you might try yourself. You might already have tried it, or even found that you rather enjoy it. However that may be, unless you already consider yourself an expert in the subject, I hope I’ll be able to provide you with useful information about it – information that could be helpful if you want to become more involved with social nudity yourself.

I’m not going to go into the history of social nudity, or give a lot of specifics about where to find places to enjoy it, or discuss how social nudity is (or isn’t) accepted by the rest of society, At least, that’s not what I plan to get into first,

My first objective is to discuss how to consider whether social nudity could be something you’d be willing to try (if you haven’t already done so). I’ll write some about how to initially become involved in social nudity in case you decide that’s the direction you’d like to go. That will mean offering practical tips on things you ought to know to get along well in social nudity situations, and alerting you to a few pitfalls to be avoided. This isn’t really all that difficult. If you become seriously interested while taking the first steps, you could be on the way to making social nudity a part of the rest of your life. Even if you don’t eventually take that direction, at least you should gain some insight into how some people do become social nudists.

At the outset, I should be clear that this discussion will be limited mostly to social nudity in the United States, since that is the only place I have much experience with the subject. In other countries, things may be a little or a lot different from what they are in the U. S.

It’s also important to point out that all of this is about non-sexual social nudity. There’s nothing inherently wrong with social sexual activities that include nudity, but involvement in that sort of thing is strictly a personal choice that is not what will be discussed here. Legitimate nudist/naturist and social nudity venues strive to be “family-friendly” and don’t allow for open sexuality. Please respect that distinction.

The first topic to consider is: how one might go about deciding whether to investigate nudism, naturism, or social nudity in the first place, with the thought of maybe actually getting into it. There are, of course, many reasons why going in that direction might be quite difficult for some people. I’ll try to address various things that may concern you. For example, one may:

1. have accepted the social consensus that being naked around other people they aren’t extremely close to is a major taboo.

2. have children not yet adults, about whom one might be concerned over the effects on them of being with adults who are sometimes or frequently naked.

3. be under the age of 18 and afraid of what one’s parents or other adults might think of one’s having an interest in being naked.

4. have friends or relatives that one might expect will not be open-minded about social nudity and the effect of this on one’s friendship with them.

5. have negative feelings about the appearance of one’s naked body for various reasons, such as it’s not “attractive enough”, too fat or too thin, too old or too wrinkled, or disfigured in some way or other (amputation, burn scars, etc.).

6. feel embarrassed or ashamed about the appearance of one’s uncovered genitals or other sexually significant parts.

7. have a spouse, romantic partner, or significant other who might not be open-minded about when and where nudity is acceptable – and with whom.

8. be active in a religion or religious organization that is not open-minded about social nudity.

9. have employment that would be adversely affected if one’s participation became known.

I’ll try to offer helpful ideas and advice about the first six of these issues, at least in some cases. It should usually be possible to deal with these issues in a way that entails no drastic changes in one’s life but works out well for all concerned.

The last three issues, however, are a different matter. I don’t feel confident about offering advice on how to deal with them. Perhaps some suggestions offered related to the first six issues may help. But in general, it may be best to discuss the last three issues with a professional counselor, since how they are dealt with can significantly affects one’s life.

To continue, let’s suppose you’ve been able to address each of these issues, if they are relevant to you. And suppose that you then decide you actually want to try out social nudity in some way or other, with a possible goal of making it more than a minor part of your life.

So the next thing to address is: What actual steps should you take to get started and to proceed to the ultimate goal? I’ll try to offer some suggestions, such as:

1. Be naked occasionally, and more often as time goes on, when that’s comfortable to do and you’re alone or with others (e. g. immediate family) whom you know are OK with your nudity.

2. Always sleep naked. Healthy people (other than infants!) really don’t need to wear anything in bed (if there are enough blankets).

3. If you have a private backyard swimming pool, go in naked whenever possible, and invite others to do likewise (without exerting any pressure). If you like to sunbathe, you probably want to avoid tan lines.

4. Talk with friends and relatives, whom you consider open-minded, about social nudity and your interest in it. Telling others you enjoy being naked may not be easy at first, but it’s an important step, because it’s a kind of “coming out”. This step lets others know something important about you, and it also affirms the fact to yourself. You’ll feel more at ease being naked when you’re with these people, since they won’t be surprised to find you that way, and if they invite you to their residence, they’re more likely to encourage you to be naked if you feel like it and the situation is appropriate. (It might not be a good idea to be so open about this in social media like Facebook or Twitter, unless you have good control over who sees the conversation.)

5. Do some research on places relatively nearby where social nudity is accepted, such as clothing-optional beaches, nudist/naturist clubs and resorts, remote hiking and camping areas, clothing-optional bed & breakfast places, etc. Plan visits to such places, and invite others along who are tolerant of nudity.

6. Plan vacations to places not nearby where social nudity is possible. Vacations outside the U. S. should especially be considered, if you can afford them, as there are many countries that offer many more possibilities for social nudity than the U. S.

7. Find out whether there are nearby nudist/naturist clubs that meet in individual homes or other appropriate places to enjoy social nudity. Meet with members of such clubs to determine whether they’re people you’d like to have as friends and would welcome you as a member.

8. Investigate whether there are online social networks, discussion groups, “bulletin boards”, etc. that discuss social nudity, seem active, and have people whom you might like to have online conversations with. These may be found on Facebook and other general social networks, as well as in stand-alone sites. Blogs dealing with social nudity (like this one) not only provide information, but also allow for asking/answering questions in comment sections. However, avoid nudist/naturist “dating sites” like the plague. They’re almost always scams. You might have to do some searching and asking around to find suitable online groups, since many of them leave much to be desired when compared with offline in-person groups.

9. There are certain special events, in particular locations, where nudity is acceptable. Examples are Burning Man, occasional “World Naked Bike Rides” in many cities, naked marathon runs (often at nudist/naturist resorts), etc. To find out about such things it’s generally necessary to watch for notices about them via online networks, unless you’ve joined a nudist/naturist social group. Often there are other purposes to the events, but the possibility of being naked is an added attraction.

There are several very important points regarding these suggestions. To reinforce what was already mentioned, all of the suggestions here will be limited to ideas relevant to non-sexual social nudity. You shouldn’t have to worry about inappropriate sexual attention in legitimate groups, and you certainly should be careful to act appropriately yourself. There are simple standards of proper “naturist etiquette” that should be pretty obvious.

Secondly, there may be some significant differences in how it’s best for men and women to get into social nudity. Women do need to take certain steps more carefully than men do. For instance, men tend to participate in online naturist groups far more often and openly than women do. This marked lack of gender balance is likely to be daunting to most women, and that’s the main reason they refrain from more open participation. Both men and women need to realize that other participants in online venues are not necessarily what they represent themselves to be – in terms of gender, age, interests, etc. That’s pretty much inherent in the nature of online systems, which allow for hiding much more than is possible in fact-to-face situations. And we all know that even in the latter case, people can dissemble about themselves fairly drastically.

No matter what venue is involved, one should be alert to the social cues offered by others. When dealing with people you don’t know well, be cautious. Seek out people you trust for objective opinions about others you know less well. In an offline, face-to-face venue, it’s not a bad idea to come along with a friend or two, if possible. Women in most cases already know the routine. Visiting a social nudity venue isn’t really all that different from visiting the local bar or a party where you don’t know the hosts and other guests well. All that said, social nudists are generally pretty responsible, friendly, and easy-going.

Ahead of time think of interesting questions to raise with new acquaintances – things beyond the obvious ones everyone uses. Be careful about asking personal questions such as “where do you work?”, “how many kids do you have”, or “do your friends know you do this?”. Also be careful about “how did you happen to get into social nudity?” Some people may be more at ease with that question than others. Once you meet people you find simpatico is a better time to go into life histories. Try for questions you’d actually like answers to. At a commercial resort ask others what they like best about the place. They might well know things you aren’t aware of, like the best food at the resort’s restaurant or snack bar, or the fact that someone on the staff is an expert on local hiking and camping opportunities. You can also use your questions to let others know what interests you the most.

That’s probably enough advice for this introductory piece.

There’s something you may be wondering about if you’ve read this far. How many opportunities will you have to enjoy nudity if the best places for social nudity are not close to where you live? Will there actually be enough to go to the effort of explaining your interest in social nudity to people you know?

The truth is, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about how to discover or create the opportunities. If you happen to live alone or with others who are comfortable with your nudity, the obvious course is to start doing without clothes as much as practical. This will allow you to really have a “naked lifestyle”, where you needn’t bother wearing anything under normal circumstances.

Electing such a lifestyle does entail trade-offs in exchange for the comfort of not having to wear tight, confining clothes. You may need to keep your environment a bit warmer when you’re naked, or else adapt yourself to tolerate being a little colder. Perhaps wearing only a T-shirt is a good compromise between full nudity and cumbersome layers of clothing. On the plus side, if you don’t wear clothes in the summer, you won’t need to run the air conditioner as much, and saving on that could offset the cost of more heat in the winter. Another benefit is having a lot less laundry to do all year – and the cost saving of that. Reducing your dependence on clothes simplifies your life.

However, my purpose isn’t to sell you on the idea of being naked much more of the time. You may be perfectly satisfied to enjoy nudity only in times and places when it’s more practical and you can be with others who also enjoy nudity. On the other hand, if a fully “naked lifestyle” appeals to you, at least during warmer times of the year, then you won’t need any extra encouragement to go for it.

Posted in General naturism, Naked living, Promoting naturism | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Jack Gescheidt’s TreeSpirit Project needs supporters to get published

Jack Gescheidt is an accomplished photographer who’s been working for over a dozen years on a project that celebrates the natural beauty of both awe-inspiring trees – such as oaks, cypresses, and sequoias – and the naked human body. The project has been known, from its inception, as the TreeSpirit Project.

On the project’s website you can learn all about the project, watch videos explaining the philosophy behind it and introducing Gescheidt himself, see many full-size sample photographs (and purchase prints in the gallery), and learn how you can participate yourself. (Especially if you live in or near California. The next opportunities are in June and September of this year, among giant sequoias.)

Gescheidt is now ready to publish a fine art coffee table book featuring his best project work. But to make this happen support is needed for this KickStarter project by May 6, 2017. All naturists should take the time to evaluate for themselves whether this is indeed an outstanding artistic endeavor that will benefit naturism, promote respect for the natural world, and help spread the artist’s vision to a much wider audience.

Posted in General naturism, Naturist news, Nudity in art, Nudity in nature | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

New on the blogroll (9/14/16)

There are new additions to the blogroll (in the right-hand column). In most cases these are blogs that have started fairly recently. They are very diverse, but all deal with nudity in some way or other. The quality is quite good (or else they wouldn’t be in the blogroll). Being in the blogroll means they are recommended, although I may not agree with particular opinions expressed.

In general, these new additions feature more than the routine, tradional sort of naturist material (“I went to the local nude beach yesterday, and…”, “It’s getting cold around here now and I need to wear a sweater…”, “The disco night at our local club was just…”, “This article on nudism in my newsfeed ticked me off…”, etc.) Instead you’re likely to find creative, original thoughts about nudity and naturism, reports of nude/naked activities that expand the boundaries of traditional naturism, posts that show you aspects of naturism that may be new to you, and good links to similarly interesting material from other blogs. (However, there shouldn’t be any actual porn.)

Quotations used in site descriptions are taken from the site itself.

Brief summary of each addition (in alphabetical order):

Casually Buff

This blogger mainly offers reports on naturist happenings around the world, based on his preference for being as “completely naked as possible.” “My site is a celebration of my lifestyle, its influences and events. And the wider wonderful world of Naturism,” he explains.

Naja Narayana

Naja is a young woman, born in Denmark, who has traveled to many countries in search of a life that is meaningful to her. Her blog is a very personal account of her journey. Nudity and dancing have been among her most significant discoveries.

“I would at occasions take off all my clothes.
I felt like: “This is all there is. My wild untamed spirit. My naked body. The dirt, the bass, the sky, the stars.”

Osnaturists

It’s sort of a combination of naturist news site and blog. Posts are in several categories (select from topics listed on the menu at the top of the page). Although the site is based in Brazil, some posts may deal with naturism anywhere. Most posts are in English (or optionally, Spanish), though some are in Portuguese (use Google Translate).

Our Naturist Blog

The blogger writes: “I’m Miles, an artist living in SW Cornwall. I’m lucky enough to live within a stones throw of one of the most beautiful naturist beaches in the UK. Molly and i have been naturists for around five years. We like to get to the beach whenever we can which sadly isn’t often enough and we try to sneak in one or two naturist holidays every year. Oh and the occasional naked disco from time to time!”

Most posts are either reblogs from other sites, or naturist experiences of Miles and Molly.

Spirited Bodies

Posts on this blog describes events, led by professional life models, that prepare people to help themselves through the discipline of life modeling.

“People come to model with Spirited Bodies to experience being nude with others in a relaxed environment, for the creation of art.

They want to face body issues and feel the warmth of human bonding in a way our society rarely offers; to be seen as a work of art and have the opportunity to express oneself in moments of silence and stillness.”

The SL Naturist 2

“SL-FKK is a blog reporting on the naturist lifestyle in the virtual world of Second Life. We also report on naturism in the real world around the globe, and will often apply Second Life situations to naturism as it exists in the real world.”

You may be surprised at how relevant naturism found in the “imaginary” world of Second Life is to naturism in the “real” world.

View from a grassey knoll

The blogger writes: “I am an Australian married man with teenage children, dog and surrounded by the great Australian bush. This blog reflects my thoughts, comments and discoveries on Christianity and Naturism (nudism).”

Non-Christians need not be put off by this, since many of the posts are links to interesting articles by other writers.

Weed and Naturism

“I’m a naturist, I smoke weed, and I’m a good person. Being a weed smoker and a naturist is NOT a reflection on my ethics. I’m not into porn, I don’t want to see your junk. What I’m into is self-expression. Being naked and smoking weed is a personal journey and a personal choice.”

“This blog is dedicated to marijuana and non-sexual nudity. Marijuana and the nude human body are both natural. Both nudity and weed have been stigmatized. I want to have an open discussion about the positive effects of responsible marijuana use and being nude.”

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Feel free to suggest in the comments additional naturist blogs you know of that have quality similar to those above.

Posted in Blogroll additions, Site news | 8 Comments