Monika: Alana, you brought your sister with you today. I’m eager to hear her thoughts about naturism.
Sheila Howard: And I’m happy to talk about it. I do have a little experience with nudity and feel positive about it. But I can’t say I know a lot about naturism from personal experience, since I’ve never thought of myself as a naturist. However, when I was in college I started sleeping naked. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for me to be partly or fully naked in my dorm room if I felt like it. My first roommate was the same way, and I don’t remember which of us started that first. A few others in the dorm did likewise – guys as well a girls – though it wasn’t especially common. We didn’t mind others dropping in to chat when we were naked, nor did it bother our visitors. I guess that was just accepted as what a few people, like me, were comfortable doing. However, the nudity was mostly confined to our rooms. We didn’t wander naked around the dorm, except maybe to nearby rooms or the bathroom.
Joyce Coburn: Yeah, it was like that in my college dorm too. I was one of those who did go naked occasionally. But that was partly because I was majoring in drama and occasionally acted naked in a play when the role called for it. So I didn’t feel that nudity was actually any big deal.
Sheila: OK, skipping forward to the present, I’m currently in a stable relationship with another woman, Zoey. Together we have two kids, both boys. Zoey’s son, Quinn, was by artificial insemination, but my son, Dylan, is by my former husband, Kerry. I’m bi, so when choosing a partner I could have picked either a guy or a girl, and the first time I chose a guy – less hassle getting pregnant. Kerry and I got along OK, although he knew I was bi from the beginning. Eventually we both realized I’d probably be happier with a female partner. However, Kerry and I still good friends. Sometimes the three of us – plus Kerry’s current partner – even get together socially. Incidentally, although Zoey and I consider our relationship permanent, we’re not officially married. There are legal pros and cons about that, but we just don’t feel the need for it.
Kelli: I completely understand. At one time I was legally married to a guy, but he was a jerk, so it didn’t last. I’m OK with being a single mom, and Alyssa doesn’t seem to mind not having a dad. Now that our life is getting on a more even keel, we’re happy the way we are.
Sheila: So I’m sure you’re all wondering what place nudity has in our family. I suppose it could be said we’re a naturist family, but only in a fairly casual way. Any of the four of us will occasionally be naked at home – some more than others. We’re all fairly comfortable being naked when visitors aren’t around, and sometimes even if they are. Mostly we wear at least some clothes, though, because the boys are both teens, so their bodies are changing. Also, they often have friends around, both guys and girls, and Zoey and I have our own friends too. Our family arrangement is nonstandard enough as it is without broadcasting that we’re relaxed about nudity too. I’m a financial advisor, so being widely known as a nudist might not be ideal for business.
Alana: I didn’t even know about Sheila’s laissez-faire attitudes towards nudity, until I told her what was going on in my family. Until my kids and I discovered nudity there was no reason to wonder about it.
Sheila: Since Alana and I are in pretty separate social circles, our families haven’t done much together. But I expect that may change now we have a common interest in nudity. However, Dylan and Quinn are older than Alana’s kids – 17 and 16, respectively.
Celeste: Your boys certainly must have an uncommon view of family relationships, considering they’ve had two mothers for some time. Are things even more complicated since all of you may be naked at home?
Sheila: No, not really. Our boys have been used to seeing us naked as long as we’ve been together. And we’ve never discouraged them from being naked at home if they felt like it. So seeing each other naked isn’t any big deal. One thing that’s a little different for Dylan is that I’m not into organized naturism as much as Zoey is. She’s a member of a lesbian naturist organization, so she visits naturist resorts occasionally and participates in other naturist activities with others in that organization. Both our boys sometimes go with her.
Celeste: Really? A lesbian naturist group doesn’t mind having males in its activities?
Sheila: Well, it just depends on the particular activity. Most are for women and girls only. But sometimes other family members are welcome too – siblings, parents, or kids if there are any. When that’s the case Quinn usually goes with her. Sometimes Dylan does too, even if I stay home. Being a busy financial advisor, I don’t have as much free time as Zoey, who’s a freelance graphic artist. And Zoey’s simply more social, while I’m sort of a wonk.
Celeste: So your boys are comfortable doing naturist things with mostly lesbian women, including perhaps some who are close to their age?
Sheila: Yep. It’s no problem for them at all. Admittedly, Quinn and Dylan may not be interested in some activities we girls enjoy, but as long as they can be naked they’re content to use the swimming pools or hiking trails at a resort, or simply to read a book in the shade somewhere. But being socially naked with people of the opposite sex simply isn’t a problem. That’s just how naturism works. We’re OK being naked with others, no matter whether they have male or female bodies.
Kimberly: In my opinion that’s the big thing that most people don’t understand about naturism. I didn’t understand it either when Danielle started telling me how she loved being naked, so that was mainly what held me back from becoming a naturist.
Sheila: I’d love to hear more about how you became a naturist, Kimberly. But I just want to add something to what I was saying about the group activities that might include males as well as females. This lesbian naturist group I belong to sometimes organizes really interesting things where family members are also welcome. And there’s one coming up later this year that should be really fun. The group has put together a packaged trip to a camping place in Costa Rica. It not a fancy resort – more like just a few acres in a forest where a family lives full time and rents out to groups that want to camp there. It’s a naturist family, but they’ll work with any group that doesn’t mind the family’s nudity.
Sally Yeager: Wow! That sounds fantastic. I’ve never been to Costa Rica, but I’ve heard that it’s a pretty neat place.
Jan: Yes, really interesting. Can anyone get in on this?
Sheila: I think so. But there’s even more. All the necessary camping gear – tents, sleeping bags, cooking stoves, and so on – will be provided, as well as any groceries the guests want for preparing meals. A chartered round trip flight has been arranged between Miami and Costa Rica. So everyone can be naked as soon as they get on the plane. They’ll have to wear a little for the trip from the airport in Costa Rica, but after that – no clothes needed! An added bonus is that Miami has a famous nude beach for people who want to go there before or after Costa Rica. The trip is planned for the time of Christmas vacation, which is one of the best times of the year for weather in Costa Rica. Any “real” naturist can sign up for this trip, without being a member of the lesbian naturist group that’s organizing it. So it’s something anyone here could seriously consider. The camping area can handle about 200 people. I think it’s early enough that there’s a month or so to decide about it, since this trip is going to be publicized only by word of mouth.
Danielle: Oh, I really, really hope we can do that. I’m sure my whole family would go.
Sheila: Fine. We can talk later about letting others in our families know about it and making plans. I’ve been talking more than enough for now. I know Kimberly is eager to tell us more about how she gave up wearing clothes.
Kimberly: Thanks, Sheila. Guess I’ll have to work on talking the rest of my family into getting more enthusiastic about nudity. But anyhow, I just want to tell about the first naturist experience I had, which was on a visit with Danielle. By then all her family except for her mother had stopped wearing clothes. So on an impulse, I stripped right away at her house – never mind that Danielle’s father and brother would see me naked. And it didn’t make any difference! I immediately just loved how good not having any clothes on felt. So I expected to remain naked at least until Mom came to pick me up after dinner. And before she came I’d decided not to put my clothes back on, to see how she’d react.
Celeste: Kimberly had mentioned to me a number of times that most of Danielle’s family were now usually naked, so that obviously fascinated her. Besides, Danielle was probably her best friend. So I wasn’t surprised to find Kimberly naked at Danielle’s home. From my own personal experience as a child, and having raised two kids, I knew that telling a youngster not to do something can just make they want to do it even more. So I told Kimberly she could stay naked if she wanted to – and was prepared to let her father and brother see her that way. I figured letting Kimberly experiment with nudity was the best way to deal with the situation. Maybe she’d find it wasn’t as great as she hoped for, so at least she’d get the idea out of her system. On the other hand, it’s possible going naked might be a good thing for her. I’ve sometimes thought she needed to develop more self-confidence, so feeling better about her naked body might help that. I’m sure it takes lots of self-confidence to do what both Kimberly and Danielle are doing.
Kimberly: I had a little time on the way home to decide whether I’d put any clothes back on. It’s not easy to get dressed inside a car, so I thought I could wait until we got home to put something on. There’s no room in our garage for Mom to park her car, so she normally parks it behind the house. I figured I could get dressed there since it’s not visible from the street. I didn’t anticipate that Dad and Roy would be playing catch in the back yard, so they’d see me naked when I stepped out of the car. That was somewhat embarrassing, so I tried hard to pretend it wasn’t. I decided I’d have to stay naked for some time, even the rest of the day.
Celeste: Roy and my husband both knew that Kimberly and Danielle were very good friends, and that Danielle now didn’t wear clothes, just like her father and brother. Danielle had even been naked at our house a couple of times already. So Kent and Roy had made a bet about whether Kimberly would try being naked too. Roy bet she would and Kent took the other side – so Roy won.
Kimberly: Roy, of course, teased me about being naked and offered to share half of the $10 he’d won on the bet because I came home naked. Of course, the teasing made it impossible to even consider putting any clothes on. I tried to act like a real naturist, so I said I fully intended to give it a fair try – because it felt good and there really was nothing at all wrong with nudity.
Celeste: Of course, I couldn’t be sure of what Kimberly was actually thinking, but it didn’t seem unreasonable to let her experiment with nudity in order to make a sensible decision about it. I admired that she must have a lot more courage doing that that I would have. But I worried about explaining the situation to others if Kimberly didn’t go back to wearing clothes fairly soon.
Erin: That’s exactly what I’ve had to deal with too as far as Kyle’s going naked is concerned. It hasn’t been easy, since not everyone has agreed with me to let Kyle continue wearing clothes as little as possible. But so far I think it’s been the right approach, and I probably wouldn’t even be here naked myself if I didn’t feel that way.
Kimberly: I managed to stay naked the rest of that day, and I went to bed naked. I’ve avoided wearing any clothes as much as possible since then! However, I lay awake in bed quite a while the first night fretting about what I should do next. I figured it would only prolong the indecision and the teasing unless I simply continued not wearing clothes as long as possible. I’d needed to prove I wasn’t at all embarrassed about being naked – even though I certainly was right then. I couldn’t stop thinking “What the fuck sort of mess have I just got myself into? What’ll I do if people – Danielle especially – start expecting me to be naked? I’ll look so foolish if I chicken out and want to go back to wearing clothes.”
Sheila: You can take it from me and most other folks who’ve been around awhile that there’ll be times in your life you have such worries about tough decisions you need to make.
Kimberly: I’ll try not to forget that. Fortunately, in this case, I made the right decision to stay naked as long as I could, because the more I ignored Roy’s teasing the quicker he stopped and the quicker I got comfortable with no clothes on. I knew it would be good if people who mattered to me quickly did get used to seeing me naked.
Danielle: I went through the same process myself. Giving up wearing clothes wouldn’t be the right decision for people in different circumstances. Maybe most people just aren’t the right type psychologically or emotionally to be naturists. But I think that embracing nudity certainly was right for me – and for Kimberly too. Often it just takes courage to do what you know you ought to do. There might be some time in the future to make a different choice – but we have to choose on the basis of how things are now.
Kimberly: Yes, indeed. For me right now, I could hardly be happier with my decision. I’m so glad I had the courage to stop wearing clothes. Now I’m fine with boys – or anyone for that matter – seeing me naked, and vice versa, as long as everyone’s respectful. For instance, I’d never tease a guy for having a small penis. Everyone wins by getting fully comfortable with both their own and others’ nudity. Not keeping any of our body parts covered up is great, because it shows acceptance of our bodies and all their parts just the way they are. The male-female differences, in particular, just don’t matter, even though they’re “interesting”.
Danielle: I totally agree with that. After Dad and my brother started going naked most of the time it did take me a little longer to do likewise – until I realized there really wasn’t any reason not to.
Kimberly: Maybe it’s been easier for Danielle and me to get comfortable without any clothes, since we’re younger and haven’t lived with fears of nudity as long as people our patents’ age. We don’t feel that not wearing clothes means we’re exhibitionists or trying to be noticed. We’re just people who prefer being naked.
Danielle: One other thing I like about nudity is we have alternatives to using clothes or makeup or hairstyle for expressing our individuality. Tattoos, for example. Although I have only a little one so far, around my left boob, being naked lets someone have a tattoo anywhere on their body, and it’s not hidden by clothes. Why go to the trouble of getting a tattoo where you want it if it’s covered up? Maybe tattoos are a more common thing now than they used to be, but it’s surprising how many tattoos some people have – in rather interesting places too.
Celeste: Do you know more than a few naturist girls, Danielle? How do you know what’s common now?
Danielle: Well, remember that Kimberly and I are on a swim team. We see the other girls on the team naked in the locker room every time there’s a practice or swim meet. And then there are all the other teams too.
Sheila: Personally, I’m kind of squeamish about getting a tattoo, but I can confirm that tattoos almost anywhere on the body are common among the lesbian naturists I know.