Many lists have been compiled over the years enumerating the many beneficial characteristics of social nudity. One typical recent list highlights 10 benefits: 10 reasons why I am a nudist. At the top of this one, like most others, is: “Because it feels good.” That is a great reason, and perfectly true. It’s hardly necessary to explain further.
However, there are many more good reasons for and benefits of social nudity. Almost certainly the most comprehensive list was compiled by the (U. S.) Naturist Society: 205 Arguments and Observations In Support of Naturism. It was first published in Issue 16.1 of their magazine Nude and Natural in 1996.
Here’s one more example, from a Canadian teen naturist: The Top 15 Way Cool Reasons To Spend a Day or a Weekend at a Nudist Campground/Beach.
The topic, of course, has been addressed on this blog, though infrequently. Rather than put up Yet Another List at this time, let’s focus on some important categories of benefits/reasons. Each of these items could be broken down into a number of related points, but it’s useful to consider each as a whole.
This is the first of several posts that will go into more detail about important benefits of social nudity.
The Naturist Society’s motto – Body Acceptance is the idea, Nude Recreation is the way – was coined by founder Lee Baxandall. In most contemporary societies, “body acceptance” is a problem because standards of attractiveness tend to exclude the actual bodies of a majority (at least) of the society’s population. The bodies of older people and people whose bodies aren’t close to the norm are especially likely to be regarded negatively. Bodies of both men and women are subject to negative judgments, though women tend to be more seriously affected, because of the higher importance placed on “attractiveness” of women in most societies.
Social nudity directly confronts body acceptance issues. The proposition that all bodies should be accepted as they are is a key tenet for social nudity, because in order to enjoy social nudity at all it is necessary to overcome negative feelings about one’s own naked body and the naked bodies of others. The idea that only people with “attractive” bodies can enjoy social nudity is pernicious and must be rejected. Fortunately, body acceptance is doable for most people. And making the effort in order to engage in social nudity yields benefits in the rest of a person’s life when unhappiness over one’s physical appearance is overcome.
A secondary aspect of body acceptance concerns genitals in particular. To enjoy social nudity it’s obviously necessary to reject the idea that there is anything at all embarrassing, unattractive, or even unpleasant about the appearance of normal human genitals. That idea, of course, is totally false, in spite of its prevalence in most contemporary societies. Women, especially, have taken the lead in challenging this fatuous notion. Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues is an early example of normalizing genitalia in social discourse. (It would be nice if people were more comfortable with using the appropriate distinct terms for vulvas, labia, vaginas, etc.)
A variety of books, artworks, and websites have been created to show the natural variety and appearance of female genitals. Here’s just one blog post that discusses this issue: A Whole Book Of Beautiful, Diverse Vaginas (Vulvas!). Here’s a whole gallery of labia, and there are (of course) many like it. But this is hardly an issue concerning only women. Both men and women need to eradicate the shame and embarrassment associated with genitals, and social nudity is an appropriate place for this process. Genital acceptance is an essential part of body acceptance.
There are now several photographic projects and websites that showcase ordinary naked human bodies in order to promote body acceptance. Here are some of the best:
- The Nu Project
- Fully Disclothed
- Mormon Women Bare
- A Beautiful Body Project
- The Century Project
Unfortunately, the majority of these sites include only women. This is understandable, since body image has typically been of higher concern for women than men. But men certainly have body issues too. And society needs to get more comfortable with how the naked bodies of men look, as well as the naked bodies of women.
Just to be clear about this: Naturism, nudism, and social nudity are not about imposing beliefs on the rest of society. It’s quite unlikely that any modern human society will come to accept nudity in everyday social life in the foreseeable future. The point, instead, is that people who learn to enjoy social nudity are able to enjoy benefits, including body acceptance, that are unavailable to most people in their societies.
For previous posts on the topic of body acceptance, go here.