Poney spent much of Saturday afternoon helping her mother prepare a backyard barbecue dinner. Their guests were to witness and help celebrate the family’s pledge to become a naked family by adopting a lifestyle of total nudity. This combination of a ceremonial pledge and celebration of their new lifestyle seemed the ideal way to proceed.
Jenna: So, Poney, there’s quite a lot of work to do getting everything ready for this evening. I’ve probably overdone things with the before-dinner tapas and hors d’oeuvres, the variety of drinks we’re offering, the sausage and seafood skewers, and the various desserts. But this is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. I’m afraid I can’t do it all without your help.
Poney: Don’t worry, Mom, you can count on me.
Jenna: The rest of us have been naked whenever possible for more than three weeks now. Yet I think we’re getting more excited all the time about what we’re doing. You’ve been fully naked for about ten days too. Are you excited as the rest of us?
Poney: To be perfectly honest, Mom, I’m feeling a weird mixture of both excitement and trepidation. I really don’t have any desire to wear clothes again. I’ve gotten used to wearing nothing at all – so it seems perfectly normal. I love how it feels being completely naked, maybe as much as the rest of you. The idea this could be a permanent change doesn’t panic me the way it did at first. But I still worry about possible problems.
Jenna: We’ve already discussed various problems many times, and probably still failed to anticipate a few. They won’t be the same for all of us. The problems for you might even be the trickiest. But I’m still confident you’ll be able to successfully manage them, because you have plenty of courage.
Poney: How do you know that?
Jenna: Just remember the time you fell out of a tree you were climbing and broke your leg. I know it was awfully painful, but you hardly cried at all, and put up with all the hassles of having the bones set, needing to use a wheelchair, getting a cast on, the physical therapy, and all the rest. But you handled that all with hardly any complaints.
Poney: I couldn’t see how complaining would help anything. Besides, it was all my fault.
Jenna: Now that you’re used to wearing nothing, and we’re pledging to stay naked, can we talk a little more about this? I want to hear what you like most about nudity – and also about all the worries, concerns, misgivings, fears, or whatever else still causes you anxiety.
Poney: Let’s start with the positives. I’m convinced living fully naked is great in many ways. I now know many pleasures and advantages of total nudity. I don’t think clothes serve any important purpose except protection from something or other. And I think letting others see me naked as much as possible is a great way to let them know I have no doubts about any of this.
Jenna: I certainly agree with all that. Are there more specific things you like about being naked?
Poney: Of course. I like how it simplifies life. For instance, whenever nudity is possible, the answer to the question of what to wear is always the same: nothing. No time or money has to be wasted washing clothes. When you’re naked, you never need to worry about getting clothes torn, spilling something on them, what people think of them, or whether they’re wearing out, stained or dirty, no longer in fashion, or no longer fit.
Jenna: Mothers of naked kids especially appreciate all of that.
Poney: I also like how, in spite of the obvious problems a girl may have being naked, there are advantages too, such as being considered “special”, being admired for being brave enough to be naked, or not having to do anything else to seem like an “interesting” person. Since I stopped wearing clothes, people I hardly know, if at all, seem to have been more friendly and courteous towards me than if I weren’t naked. As a fairly shy person, that’s been a big boost to my self-confidence and social ease.
Jenna: Let me change the question a little. Obviously pledging to be naked whenever possible is a big deal, but can you see advantages to doing it?
Poney: I’ll have to think out loud about that. I suppose if people know I’ve pledged to stay naked they’ll be less likely to bug me to put on clothes for some reason or other – when I’d rather not. Also, I don’t want anyone to doubt I really enjoy wearing nothing. So I need to stay naked even if it’s not easy – to make it clear I’m committed enough to nudity that I’ll be naked whenever I have a choice. Pledging to stay naked will minimize temptation to wear even a little, because I don’t feel like being naked, it’s slightly too cold, someone’s staring at me, or someone I dislike might see me naked. If people who’re naked doing something fun doubt my commitment and think I’m anxious or embarrassed about being naked I might not be invited to join them. So I might miss out on something I’d enjoy.
Jeanna: Yes, people who’re enthusiastic about nudity prefer to include others in their activities who they believe are equally enthusiastic. Having a reputation as a committed naked person makes it more likely you’ll be invited to things you’ll enjoy.
Poney: I see the advantages of pledging to be naked whenever possible.
Jenna: But you still have fears and anxiety about it, right?
Poney: Sure, I have various worries about wearing nothing whenever I can, but we’re already discussed most of them. I’m going to pledge with the rest of you to stay naked, because I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do. I won’t let fear get in my way. I know I’ll feel better once I’ve made the pledge and can stop worrying about it.
Jenna: I’m so glad you’ll be pledging with us, but I’ve been pretty sure you would. Dealing successfully with being completely naked the past ten days has been very good for you and made you much more self-confident. You’ve aced the test! You now know you’re strong enough to handle the difficulties. But if you later find some problem with staying naked really tough to handle, it’s OK to deal with it by not being fully naked – if the problem is only temporary. None of us would consider that breaking the pledge.
Poney: But what if a problem is so serious I think I need to wear something a significant part of the time, even if being naked is possible?
Jenna: If that happens, maybe you’d have to break the pledge. But I know you’re strong enough to handle the embarrassment of that. The only real tragedy would be if you decide to mostly give up on nudity.
Poney: I discussed the pledge with Dad this morning. Breaking it would definitely be very embarrassing. I’d feel like a wimp, a failure, and a quitter to let you and others down, because I just didn’t have the courage and self-confidence to stick with my pledge. I’d be admitting I lost my nerve because I couldn’t handle the difficulties.
Jenna: Let’s try not to think about all the what-ifs right now. What really matters is you’re brave enough to take the pledge today. We know that what we’re doing may be stressful at times. But we’re confident we can handle that.
Poney: I had my strongest doubts and fears about two weeks ago. Right now I’m trying hard to focus on how good being completely naked feels. Making the pledge will be a great relief – I can move on to learning the advantages of living without clothes. There must be pleasures and advantages I haven’t even imagined yet.
Jenna: We’re all looking forward to discovering additional advantages. But what are you especially anticipating once you’re officially a fully naked person?
Poney: Well, beyond relief that my indecision about full-time nudity is over, I can hardly wait for that naturist campout we’re going to. Enjoying the fresh air and sunshine with people who’re as naked as I am should be fantastic.
Jenna: You probably can’t imagine how pleased I am that you’ve become so positive about nudity. Your initial reaction to our idea of being a naked family was even more disappointing than we’d feared. You seemed to be thinking “No way am I going to start living completely naked!” But now you seem almost eager to do exactly that.
Poney: Yeah, it seems I have become enthusiastic about nudity – but not so much about the likely problems, such as explaining to my friends why I won’t wear clothes anymore.
Jenna: Just regard handling the problems as challenges. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to persuade your friends that on balance your life will be much better without any clothes. I know you enjoy solving problems, such as crossword puzzles and chess problems. Explaining to your friends why you’ve stopped wearing any clothes is just another problem to approach the same way.
Poney: That’ll be quite a challenge. Maybe I can talk some into going to one of the naturist group’s activities with me – assuring them they can stay dressed if they want to.
Jenna: I’m sure that’s an excellent idea.
Poney: I want to keep discussing how to deal with problems I’ll have because of being naked, but is it OK to change the subject for a moment to ask a question I’ve been wondering about.
Poney: Well, I’m still not clear why people who aren’t close family friends and who Rowan and I hardly know have been invited to witness our pledge. Why not have some good family friends and close relatives here to witness the pledge and celebrate it with us?
Jenna: It’s pretty simple, Poney. You’re quite worried about how your friends will react when they learn you’ve stopped wearing clothes. Our guests this evening have no problems with the idea. But like you we’re concerned about how our friends and relatives will react. Some probably will think the whole idea is crazy. So we need to be careful how we let them know what we’re doing. Your father and I haven’t figured out what approach to use in many cases.
Poney: Wouldn’t it have been better to delay making this commitment until you have a good idea of what’s the best approach?
Jenna: No. The rest of us mostly stopped wearing clothes about three weeks ago – and you’ve been naked for ten days. So it isn’t a big secret now. Some of our neighbors know, and some of Rowan’s friends do too. Our relatives and best friends don’t know, however, but if we wait any longer some will probably find out. We just need to proceed in the best way we can think of. We may lose some friends as a result. But we’ll also make many new friends. As far as relatives are concerned, most we’re close to will probably accept our decision eventually.
Poney: I sort of get it. Our guests this evening are sympathetic to what we’re doing. So we’ll get practice explaining our plans, and that will help us explain our plans to people who may not be as sympathetic.
Jenna: Yes, exactly. Think of it this way. Doing something new and controversial naturally presents difficulties. We need practice explaining such things. That can initially seem scary. But it’s how we learn to handle problems that may come up. Hopefully we’ll learn our worries are exaggerated. Don’t you recall how hard it was for you to go to scout camp the first time? We had to goad you to get on the bus that first time.
Poney: Yeah, I remember.
Jenna: And it worked out just fine didn’t it?
Poney: Yeah, mostly. I was too shy to make many friends, and I was embarrassed when I couldn’t do things that others did, but on the whole the experience was OK.
Jenna: Right. And you never hesitated to go again, because you knew what was involved, and you knew you could handle any problems that came up – even if you needed help from a camp counselor.
Poney: I understand what you’re saying. I’m often scared doing things the first time. Like the first time I had a real date.
Jenna: Exactly. Dates are a great example. They often just don’t work out – and can sometimes be very embarrassing or even scary. That’s just how dates are. Going naked is much like that. Being the only one naked can definitely be quite scary and embarrassing. But you’re probably going to be in that situation often, so you need to be prepared for it, and have some idea of how to handle it.
Poney: I actually was the only one naked as long as I was with Edda, Ellen, and their friends and family. However, they were very understanding of my inexperience with nudity and nervous about it. So that was very reassuring. But I’ve still had rather little experience going naked. How will I know what to do if I’m embarrassed because people are upset by my nudity or make me uncomfortable for some other reason?
Jenna: The answer’s very simple, honey! Get more experience going naked – as much as you can! With as many types of people as possible who respect and tolerate your nudity – and also with some who don’t. You won’t always be able to avoid rude or insensitive people, so you need to think about how to deal with them too. These things just need to be learned by experience.
Poney: I know I had to play chess often to get good at it.
Jenna: Right. And you have to be naked as often as possible to get as good at it as possible. You’ll appreciate having pledged to stay naked, because you’ll continue wearing nothing whenever you can. The more experience you have without clothes on, the faster you’ll learn. You may often be embarrassed initially. It still happens to me too. But the more you’re naked, the less embarrassed you’ll feel. Every time you experience embarrassment, try to figure out how you could have coped better.
Poney: But I hate being embarrassed.
Jenna: Yes, of course. But it’s not a natural or inevitable feeling. Instead, it’s what our society has conditioned people to feel when naked. Our society is guilty of that crime, and it’s what we’re protesting by staying naked. You just need to handle the socially-conditioned embarrassment while you’re learning to overcome it. It’s like the pain that distance runners must put up with while becoming able to run farther.
Poney: You and Dad have explained we should be naked to challenge society’s sick and twisted attitude towards nudity. But that’s difficult for someone like me to handle while I’m trying to fit in with others my age.
Jenna: I understand. I won’t mislead you by trying to persuade you that what we’re doing will be easy and won’t upset some people. We haven’t put pressured you to embrace total nudity like the rest of us. But we’re very glad you seem courageous enough to join us. I know managing your embarrassment will sometimes be difficult. But I’m confident you’re up to the challenge. It will certainly get easier the longer you stay naked.
Poney: Well, I can usually handle embarrassment, like when I say something stupid, or spill some food, or fall down due to clumsiness, or give a wrong answer in class. I brush it off and learn to be more careful in the future. I’ve gotten much better at doing stunts on my skateboard by recognizing what I’m able to do already, and what I haven’t quite mastered yet and need to be very careful about.
Jenna: That’s a good analogy. And by the way, being naked doesn’t mean you can’t continue to skateboard – as long as you keep wearing good protective gear, which we certainly expect you to do.
Poney: OK, but going around naked is very different. If something happens so that wearing nothing causes me embarrassment, there’s not much I can do, unless I always have some clothes available – which often wouldn’t be easy. What other protection is there against the embarrassment of nudity?
Jenna: Clothes are the only physical protection. But your attitude, body language, and verbal agility are other types of protection. Remember how we discussed that acting fearless hides signs of fear. In the same way, looking unembarrassed hides – and actually controls – embarrassment. Also, when Edda was here, you said clothes were like training wheels on a bike. Eventually you shouldn’t need them anymore.
Poney: Yeah, I remember all that. I suppose actors have to practice a lot to be good at appearing to be different from what’s “natural” for them. I’ll certainly have constant practice using things besides clothes to overcome embarrassment. I just must keep reminding myself I’ve mostly lost the feeling I need to wear clothes.
Jenna: There’s a lot of professional psychological thinking on the relationship between nakedness and embarrassment. Some psychologists say that nudity-related embarrassment is different from other sources of embarrassment, because it’s a socially conditioned response. Being embarrassed because you’re naked isn’t like being embarrassed because you’ve spilled your drink or given a wrong answer in class. Those are just accidents or personal mistakes. A careful person will try to avoid such things. But being naked is a great thing – not a mistake at all!
Poney: I agree it’s not a mistake, but most people seem to think it is. So why shouldn’t it feel embarrassing?
Jenna: Almost everyone has been socially conditioned to think that wearing nothing is just “wrong” – don’t bother asking why. Except in a nudist family, almost every child is eventually told they must wear clothes when they’re not alone. But you now understand that attitude is what’s actually wrong. Quite simply, being naked isn’t wrong or a mistake, no matter how many people think otherwise. Nevertheless, many people will think you’re mistaken and expect you to feel shame for being naked. Shame is a cause of embarrassment – so you should flatly reject shame when you know that being naked isn’t wrong. That’s probably the best way to stop embarrassment from being naked.
Poney: So embarrassment from being naked with others who’re also naked is unlikely – but more difficult to avoid when there are at most one or two others also naked.
Jenna: Exactly. If most others are naked you’re part of the majority, so it doesn’t seem wrong, and shouldn’t cause any shame or embarrassment.
Poney: But you want us to be naked whenever possible, even when all or most others aren’t.
Jenna: Correct. Even if only one person is naked, it’s still not wrong, unless clothes are required for legal or other understandable reasons.
Poney: What do you mean by “understandable reasons”?
Jenna: Well, obviously, one is if it’s just too cold to be naked. But another example is when you’re with one or more people you don’t want to offend, either because you respect them and you know our understanding of nudity differs from theirs, or simply if causing offense could have undesirable consequences.
Poney: Like if I need a favor from someone.
Jenna: Yes. The basic problem is that nudity does break social norms and taboos, albeit foolish ones. It’s the norms and taboos that are wrong or mistaken. Unfortunately, most people in our society don’t agree. We just have to contend with that pragmatically, depending on the situation. So we can’t expect to be naked everywhere – only everywhere it’s possible without repercussions.
Poney: I understand. But I still think I may feel embarrassed being naked around people with clothes on, especially people I don’t know well. Why do I think that?
Jenna: Well, that might be understandable with people you don’t know are tolerant of nudity. But if they seem tolerant, what would make you feel embarrassed about being naked?
Poney: Oh, various things, perhaps. Even if they don’t show any disapproval of nudity, how do I know they don’t actually dislike it, but they’re just too polite to express how they feel?
Jenna: In that case, it’s more their problem than yours. At least they’re polite enough not to openly disapprove of your nudity. It’s hard to know what someone’s actually thinking, unless you’re very good at reading body language. So if they’re tolerant of your nudity, don’t worry what they “really” think.
Poney: OK, here’s another big thing. What if I’m afraid someone thinks my body’s not “good enough” to show off naked?. Maybe they think my butt’s too big, or my boobs look funny.
Jenna: People really shouldn’t be judging someone else’s body, whether it’s naked or not, although I know they will. But are you very worried about your body’s appearance?
Poney: No, not really. I don’t have a perfect body, but I think it looks OK naked.
Jenna: I certainly agree. So why are you concerned?
Poney: Because it’s still a matter of what people are thinking, regardless of what they might say to my face.
Jenna: Again, don’t worry about what someone is “really” thinking if it’s not apparent. However, if someone actually says something uncomplimentary about the appearance of any part of your naked body, that just shows they’re insensitive. You’ve taken good care of your body, so you’ve done your part. You don’t need to look like a supermodel, so accept your body as it is, and don’t worry about it.
Poney: I agree. Too many girls spend excessive time trying to look “perfect” with their hair, hands, feet, and so on looking “just right”. But I try not to be like that.
Jenna: Your attitude is what I’ve encouraged. You make reasonable efforts so you don’t need to worry about what’s visible when you have clothes on. What’s the problem if you do the same with what’s visible only when you’re naked?
Poney: None, I guess. I just haven’t quite adjusted to the idea that parts visible when I’m naked are just like other body parts. So rationally I realize there’s no reason to be embarrassed if anyone can see them and have an opinion about their appearance.
Jenna: In most societies, unfortunately, people object to anyone enjoying the nonsexual pleasures of being naked, because they can’t get their minds off the sexual aspect of a few body parts. That applies just as much to men’s parts too, of course. Just don’t worry over what other people think about any part of your body – whether or not you’re naked – as long as they’re considerate if they say anything.
Poney: That’s a lot easier said than done, Mom.
Jenna: Yes, my dear, and this again is why you need practice, practice, and more practice with going naked – as much practice as you can get.
Poney: Oh, I just heard the doorbell ring!
Jenna: I wasn’t expecting anyone so soon. I’m busy cutting up things for the salad. Why don’t you go answer it?
Poney: Sure, no problem. Just one more person who’ll see me naked. No big deal.