Our society in the U. S., as in most other counties, is generally quite hostile to open nudity. It’s considered OK for a person to be naked in a few limited circumstances, and even to enjoy that nakedness in some fewer cases. But there’s a strong taboo against going naked openly and by choice with all but a certain very few people. In various ways this taboo is even stronger now than in recent decades – unless one is some sort of a celebrity or meets quite narrow aesthetic standards of bodily appearance.
As a result, it takes a fair amount of courage for most people to try social nudity – and to admit that they enjoy it, if they are successful in trying it. It takes courage to explain to skeptics of social nudity, let alone people who are actively hostile towards it, what is so good about it. But almost inevitably one has to undertake such explanation to the skeptics and hostiles in order to justify a choice to participate in social nudity.
Rational arguments in favor of social nudity are often unsuccessful in changing the minds of skeptics and opponents. Such arguments may include:
- Being naked and free of clothing simply feels very good.
- Being naked among others who are also naked engenders feelings of openness and closeness with others.
- When we reject the crutch of wearing clothes to hide our bodies, we are able to like and accept our bodies more.
- When we overcome our fears of being naked, we also overcome unreasonable fears of exposing other aspects of ourselves.
- In order to enjoy social nudity, we have to acquire confidence in having mastery of our sexuality, so this sexuality becomes less of a problem for us.
Many, perhaps most, people who haven’t experienced social nudity simply do not tend to believe such claims. And we understand this, so we don’t have much confidence that making these claims will sway the attitudes of others towards social nudity.
So where, then, can we find the courage to enjoy social nudity, and as a result face the need to justify this choice? Well, partly, it helps a lot if we believe these claims ourselves, as a result of personal experience. But that may not be enough, especially at an early stage when we are trying to get started with social nudity.
Negative attitudes towards nudity are usually acquired before adulthood. Most commonly the attitudes come at an early age from one’s own family, if there is hostility within the family towards nudity. In this way, the taboo against nudity is almost like a genetic disease, passed on from one generation to the next. But even for people lucky enough to be raised in a family that is tolerant of nudity or even favorable towards it, negative attitudes can be acquired from peers when one is a little older. It’s rather impractical to advise people to be born into families with positive attitudes about nudity, and to avoid contact with others outside the family who are hostile towards nudity.
Here is one suggestion that has worked for many people to develop the courage to enjoy social nudity. What works best is to find and get to know people who already enjoy social nudity. The best way to do this is to go to places such as clothing-optional beaches or naturist parks and resorts. However, since there aren’t nearly as many such places as there should be, some effort is required. You also have to have enough courage already to get naked yourself, though this isn’t always necessary at the start, especially at clothing-optional beaches. At least you won’t need the extra courage required to justify what you are doing to other people, since people at such places are already comfortable with social nudity.
But here’s the real payoff. The people you meet who already enjoy social nudity can be your role models. They’ve already acquired the necessary self-confidence in what they’re doing. You will probably acquire gradually this same confidence simply by getting to know them and interacting with them. You may find, if you’re lucky, that some of these people can be inspiring, if they talk about how social nudity has helped them become more “centered”, stronger, and self-confident. There are other paths that lead the same way (such as meditation, yoga, even philosophy), but social nudity has some advantages, as listed above.
In the early days of modern naturism (before 1940, roughly), society was especially intolerant of it. There were serious legal obstacles placed in its way, especially in the U. S. But nudity continues to be reviled even now. Almost everywhere in the U. S. there are laws against even the most unobjectionable forms of public social nudity (at beaches, camping and hiking areas, etc.), and this situation continues to deteriorate.
Nudity is specifically not recognized as a form of free speech or political protest, and therefore not eligible for U. S. 1st Amendment protection. This is rationalized on the grounds that nudity per se is not “expressive” speech – despite quite obvious cases where nudity does express attitudes related to the naked human body in general or one’s own naked body. But courts routinely accept the duplicity of their anti-nudity position by willfully refusing to perceive what nudity can express. And even the most nonsexual depictions of nudity are routinely excluded from the largest Internet sites like Facebook and Google+ (which aren’t required to pay any attention to the 1st Amendment). In other 1st world countries, like the U. K. and Australia[1, 2, 3], the situation seems to be even worse, as governments build walls of censorship to prevent access to whatever they think some segment of their public will regard as “pornography”.
So there are these and other obstacles to the free enjoyment of social nudity and the means to communicate about its significant merits. Consequently, much courage and perseverance really can be necessary in order for individuals to learn about and choose to follow this path for themselves.