Is evangelical naturism a good thing? Yes, it is, and we need to have a conversation about why this is so.
There has been an interesting response from some naturists to the article offering “Tips for expanding your naked comfort zone“. Some of the article’s suggestions were controversial. That’s fine. Controversy is a good thing – as long as it takes the form of an authentic dialog, in which participants make a sincere effort to understand each others’ viewpoints. This is true both within the naturist family and when we dialog with people who aren’t naturists (yet). Please read “What is naturism?” if you have any concerns about how we are using the term to refer to the general concept of (nonsexual) social nudity.
In paraphrase, one objection to the “Tips” article goes like this: “I don’t see any personal reason to be evangelical about naturism. I don’t feel any need to try to convert people to naturism or social nudity. After all, my friends and family like me so much that they not only are tolerant when I’m naked, but sometimes even join in without my encouragement. I simply don’t care whether they enjoy nudity at home or in other aspects of their life that don’t affect me.”
There are various points that can be made in response to this attitude. The very first is that the “Tips” article was mainly about how people, such as likely readers of this blog, could themselves become more comfortable with nudity in a larger sphere of their own lives. In order to do this, it’s not strictly necessary to convince others to enjoy being naked. But for anyone who does want to enjoy nudity, it is necessary that others around them, especially friends and family, at least tolerate the nudity. And, perhaps, accept it, approve of it, or even offer support and encouragement. (Or is any of that just too much to hope for?) Further, it is almost certainly going to increase one’s own level of comfort with nudity simply to make the effort to explain to others, who may be skeptical, the benefits of nudity and why one enjoys it.
The second point is that it’s probably rather unusual that most people who enjoy nudity – or would like to enjoy nudity – have friends and family who are as positive about nudity as those around people who hold the attitude paraphrased above. Especially in a country like the United States, where hostility towards nudity is so widespread. The reality is that most people in the U. S. experience opposition towards nudity from some of their friends and family who know about their preferences. And they fear for their professional reputations and their employment if anyone outside a small circle knows they enjoy social nudity. Of course, this doesn’t even address the problems naturists can have from their own friends and family in most countries outside of Europe, North America, and Australia.
So it may be in the “selfish” interest of most people who enjoy being socially naked to become “evangelical” to others around them about naturism, at least if it is “safe” to do so. In order to get comfortable with nudity, it’s necessary to achieve at least tolerance from one’s family and friends.
But is it really “selfish” in the usual sense at all? That depends on your concept of selfishness, of course. For instance, it would be selfish if one’s own nudity were somehow to become an inconvenience or a real burden to others who are exposed to it unwillingly. Sadly, in our narrow-minded society, even tolerance of the nudity of others can be a burden to many. Especially, for example, if one’s children are “exposed” to the nudity.
However, suppose that one’s nudity isn’t an actual burden to family and close friends. Is it still “selfish” to advocate that they at least try social nudity themselves? That too depends on what one means by “selfish”. In an important sense, being selfish implies the effort to have something for oneself when that necessitates depriving another person of something important to them.
But that’s not how social nudity usually works. It’s quite the opposite. The very fact of nudity being social means that it is something shared with others, not taken away from them. If one convinces some of one’s family and friends to share in social nudity, then everyone benefits. This is in fact the primary reason for being “evangelical”. Most people would probably prefer to share nudity with others in their own home and in their friends’. And to be able to enjoy nude recreation, at naturist resorts, beaches, and other suitable outdoor locations, with people one knows and likes . Sure, there will be strangers at the other places who may well become friends eventually. But it’s not selfish to want to include your family and present friends as well.
There’s a third point that can be made in favor of being “evangelical” about naturism. It is that, in the long run, that’s the only way for opposition and hostility towards nudity in most societies to be tempered. The more that people who enjoy social nudity are willing to talk about it and evangelize it, the more others will gradually come to tolerate it or even accept it. Naturists certainly stand to benefit from moderating or even reversing the hostility. However, the payoff in this respect is more uncertain, at least in the short term. And the ultimate beneficiaries of such evangelism are most likely to be people other than ourselves – such as children and grandchildren. But that’s always how it’s been with real “progress”.
It’s kind of sad how much of the evangelizing that naturists are willing to do is directed towards others who are already “believers” – in preaching to the choir. Naturist and nudist publications are full of that. Naturists, not surprisingly, like to congratulate themselves for being open-minded and enlightened about social nudity and its many benefits. About how naturism is not sexual, contrary to popular belief, and is instead wholesome and very, very healthful, physically and mentally. And there’s nothing terribly wrong with that.
But do we really need to keep reminding ourselves about all that – instead of telling everyone else who hasn’t yet discovered it?
1. Here’s an example – just the latest of many – of how extreme the insanity about nudity is in the U. S.: Mom in topless photo taken by daughter the ‘victim’ in ‘overblown’ incident: attorney. Of course, this was in the U. S. state of Missouri, one of the country’s most backward. (Last year in Missouri a male candidate for Senator in the U. S. Congress claimed that rape was no big deal, because “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” At least that guy was defeated.)