Just as Jenna and Poney were putting the finishing touches (guacamole and sour cream) on the taco salad bowl, the doorbell rang.
Jenna: Mind getting that for me, Poney?
Poney: Nope. You suppose it’s the first guests?
Jenna: Who else could it be? But does it really matter?
Poney: No, I guess not. I’ll always be naked answering the door from now on.
Jenna: Of course. We all will. The sign beside the door tells everyone what to expect. You needn’t give it a second thought.
There was a boxwood hedge in the front yard, but it wasn’t tall enough that passers-by on the street side couldn’t get a glimpse of anyone opening the front door. By now the neighbors in a position to notice knew what they might see, but none had objected so far. The living room’s large picture window, after all, occasionally presented the same view if the curtains, as usual, hadn’t been drawn.
There was a couple at the door, who looked somewhat younger than her parents, when Poney opened it.
Ed Baxter: Hi! I’m Ed Baxter, and this is my wife, Sue. Your sign here certainly means what it says – and we want you to know we fully approve. Being invited to help your family celebrate your independence from clothes is a real honor.
Sue Baxter: Yes, we’ve very honored. This is such a significant change you’re all making. I can hardly imagine how important this occasion must be for your family.
Poney: Hi, Ed and Sue. I’m Poney. We’re all glad you’re here for this occasion.
Ed: I doubt I’ve ever met you, Poney, but Sue probably has, since she’s a member of your mother’s book discussion club.
Poney: I’m pleased to meet you, Ed.
Sue: You may remember me, since we’ve seen each other a few times when the book club has met at your house.
Poney: Yes, I remember you, but I think it’s been awhile, Mrs. Baxter…
Sue: Please just call me Sue.
Poney: OK, Sue.
Sue: I’m not sure when the club met here last. With around 25 members, there’s a lot of time before we return to the same place. I remember you as being younger – because of course you were. Changes come so quickly at your age. You’re looking much more grown-up now. Oh, maybe that doesn’t sound quite right. You’d look much more grownup, even if you had any clothes on.
Poney: I understand what you mean. Don’t worry about it. From now on how my body’s developing will be visible to everyone. When I thought about what never wearing clothes would mean, that was one of my main concerns. But I’m over that, because I’m pretty used to being naked now, even though it’s been less than two weeks so far. Without clothes, how my body looks isn’t private anymore. I’ve learned to accept that. Fortunately, I’m OK with my body’s appearance. What others think of it doesn’t matter. I guess many girls worry much more about that sort of thing, but I don’t.
Ed: Perhaps Poney’s ready for us to go inside now, Sue. People passing by can see her clearly if they look.
Poney: Yes, let’s go in. I should have invited you in right away. But people seeing me naked will be completely normal. As long as my nudity doesn’t upset or offend someone, I don’t care or even think much about it anymore. It’s unnecessary.
Sue: Well, you certainly appear quite relaxed and comfortable the way you are. Not the least bit anxious or embarrassed. If you’re nervous at all, you’ve concealed it very well. I can’t imagine myself doing what you’re doing – even now, let alone at your age.
Poney: To be perfectly honest, I don’t always feel as relaxed and comfortable as you say. But I just dismiss any worries and other negative feelings, because they don’t really matter. Most of the time I’m going to be the way you see me now. Society – but not my parents – conditioned the negative feelings in me. I simply remind myself that bare skin is all the clothing I really need.
Sue: Yes, it’s the old “power of positive thinking”.
Poney: When I do slip up and think about my nudity, it does seem weird and surreal, like I’m only dreaming I’m naked. But I know it’s not a dream, since the rest of my family are naked and they want me to be too. I’ve realized I actually want that also. I’ve not only gotten used to nudity, I now genuinely enjoy it. Yet I still have a trace of some of the concerns and fears I had initially. Kind of strange, no?
Ed: Are you saying you stopped wearing clothes mainly to please the rest of your family?
Poney: Well, that was a big factor at first. Their reasons for going naked seemed persuasive. Deep down I felt they were right. Now I’m basically convinced intellectually that nudity is good, and it’s right for me – though it certainly wouldn’t be for everyone. Wearing nothing at all now feels quite pleasant and agreeable – even though it didn’t at first. So I’m trying my best to live happily without any clothes – and without letting my remaining qualms or misgivings deter me. I’m working hard at what Mom calls the “inner game of going naked”.
Sue: Oh, you must tell us all about that!
Poney: Well, it’s complicated. I’m happy to talk about it, but doing it justice takes some time. Mom can explain it much better. But the main thing is focusing one’s mind on what’s really important at the moment, and ignoring misgivings, worries, and inconveniences. For me that mostly means to keep reminding myself I don’t need clothes anymore, and doing without them simplifies my life a lot. I also need to be patient with people who question my nudity, and try to help them understand it.
Ed: How did you decide you don’t need clothes and could dispense with them?
Poney: There were various things. I discovered that feeling no need or desire to wear clothes was liberating. And I understood that clothes are much like a young child’s security blanket or an older child’s favorite toys. Before a certain age, a child thinks she couldn’t live without those things. But she eventually realizes they just don’t matter much to her anymore. So she puts them away or even gives them away – because they’re no longer important and can easily be left behind.
Sue: That’s a great analogy.
Poney: I’m growing up and learning how early social conditioning deceives people about the importance of clothes and the absolute necessity of wearing any. Now I know I can usually live fine without clothes. So it’s time to put them away, forget about them, and not look back.
Ed: Sure, not bothering with clothes makes life simpler in some ways. But in our society, doesn’t doing without them also make for many new complications?
Poney: Yes, definitely. Going naked certainly presents difficulties. However, life’s never simple anyway. There are always problems. But I’m a chess player, so I enjoy solving tricky problems. If I continued to wear clothes I’d have to worry about what colors or styles I like, what looks best on me, what’s currently in fashion, what others think of my choices, where to find bargains, and so on. I’d rather enjoy being naked and dealing with the consequences instead of worrying about what to wear every day. Wearing nothing is the best choice – it’s so much simpler! No decisions to make!
Sue: Very good points.
Poney: The trick is figuring out which problems to deal with and which ones to ignore. Right now I prefer dealing with the problems of going naked whenever possible instead of all the problems of wearing clothes – because I’d rather be naked than wear anything. Coping with the inevitable difficulties, which aren’t trivial, is an intellectual challenge.
Sue: I’ve never seriously thought about going naked as a possibility for me. Well, perhaps once or twice when I’ve been unsatisfied with clothes I had to wear for some particular party it’s crossed my mind to go naked – but not seriously. I’ve been at a few parties where a brave woman arrived naked. Maybe someone dared her to be naked, she was an avid nudist, or she just wanted attention by being provocative. I suppose it’s possible to get away with that sometimes, especially if people have had a lot to drink. However, I’ve never considered giving up wearing clothes.
Poney: Parties where I can be naked will probably be almost the only ones I’ll go to – but definitely not to be provocative. I now don’t want it to be any secret that I’ve stopped wearing clothes. I want to be very open about the fact I’ve freely chosen to be naked, and not pressured into it by my family. I hope my nudity will soon be accepted and taken for granted. People will certainly notice I’m naked – just as they notice what others are or aren’t wearing – but it won’t matter to reasonable people.
Ed: So you won’t be embarrassed to discuss your nudity with others?
Poney: At first, after I started going naked, I thought I would be embarrassed to discuss it. But I’m not anymore. To be honest, what I really want is for people to become so used to my nudity that they don’t question or even mention it. But that’ll take awhile. So I now think that discussing my nudity will help people get used to it. That’s what I’m doing right now. It doesn’t embarrass me, since it’s an opportunity to explain how my feelings about nudity have changed rather quickly from being rather uncomfortable with it to feeling much more positive about it.
Sue: It’s obvious, Poney, that’s exactly how you feel – from your body language and how you talk about nudity. Naturally you want people to understand nudity is normal for you and just accept it.
Poney: I believe wearing clothes and wearing nothing are equally valid choices. Bare skin is an unconventional choice, but I now strongly prefer it. If somebody seems surprised I’m naked, I’ll just explain why I prefer nudity and think it’s right for me. I think it’s a great choice for anyone who’s comfortable being naked and has the proper attitude. By “proper attitude” I mean they aren’t trying to be provocative, cause offense, or shock anyone. Playful, perhaps, but nothing else.
Ed: Doesn’t it also send a message that there’s nothing at all “wrong” about nudity?
Poney: Yes, you’re right. Being naked whenever possible does send the message that wearing nothing is a perfectly good choice that’s wholesome, enjoyable, and life-enhancing – so not at all a cause for shame or embarrassment.
Sue: I couldn’t agree with you more.
Poney: I’d never put a sign on myself that says “Ask me why I’m naked!” But now, clearly, I enjoy discussing my nudity or nudity in general. I want people to know I believe simple, nonsexual nudity is healthy, liberating, and generally wonderful. It’s a great conversation-starter too! Partial or even total nudity shouldn’t be remarkable at all. In a sensible, rational world, nudity should be considered a reasonable alternative to conventional clothes. Perhaps only on special occasions – or maybe as much as possible – depending on the person. And it costs nothing, besides.
Ed: That’s definitely the rational way to think about it. But it’s painfully apparent that most of the world isn’t rational.
Poney: That’s so true, unfortunately. However, I’ll do my best to handle whatever reactions I get from being naked, even though I prefer no reaction.
Sue: Is it your preference because you’re still, maybe just a little, embarrassed about being naked?
Poney: No, I think I’ve gotten over that – at least most of the time. I believe that ultimately people should just accept nudity – mine or anyone else’s – without comment. Even total nudity is quite harmless and should be considered perfectly normal.
Sue: Yes, absolutely!
Poney: I want everyone to understand that being totally naked is my deliberate and well-considered choice. Then my nudity won’t be surprising or remarkable at all, so nobody will pay any extra attention to me because I’m naked.
Ed: That would be ideal, of course. But I’m sure you know you’ll still have problems being naked. That’s just how most societies, including ours, are.
Poney: [sighs] Yes, I know. Most societies condition children to think that simple nudity is objectionable. They malign nudity in so many ways – claiming it’s “immoral”, “immodest”, “indecent”, “shameful”, “disgusting”, “obscene”, or “offensive”. That nonsense gets passed on from generation to generation. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I hope that most of the time everyone will know I’m naked simply because I want to be – not as a way to get attention.
Sue: But there’ll always be people who don’t know that.
Poney: Sure. When that happens, if I’m asked, I’ll tell them it’s my choice to be naked whenever possible. If they ask someone else why I’m naked, they should be told, “Oh, that’s just Poney Collins. She dislikes wearing clothes. Everyone else here is used to seeing her naked and doesn’t even think about it. But don’t get any ideas about trying to mess with her because she’s naked, since her friends won’t like that. However, if you’re nice to her, she might tell you why she chooses to be naked.”
Sue: I think Ed and I now understand very well how you feel about this. Fortunately, nudity in general doesn’t bother us. No doubt Jenna realized that Ed and I would happily help your family celebrate your pledge to stay naked, since instances of nudity often come up in books we read. I usually defend that, because I think there’s nothing wrong with nudity, and it’s appropriate for the characters involved.
Poney: Obviously I love talking about nudity now. I guess I’ve been sort of gushing about it way too much. But if you can stand hearing more, I’ll be happy to answer any other questions you have about nudity and me. In fact…
Jenna: Excuse me! Hi, Sue and Ed! [She embraces both warmly.] From what I’ve overheard, it sounds like Poney’s been talking your ears off. But if you want to continue, how about heading for our backyard patio? You’ll find plenty of munchies there. Poney can tell you what sorts of drinks we have – then go get them for you. Rowan and I will take over answering the door. Troy will be along in a few minutes. He’s taking a shower now, since he just came in all hot and sweaty from working in the backyard. Fortunately, like the rest of us, he doesn’t waste time anymore getting dressed.
Ed, Sue, and Poney settled themselves in comfortable chairs on one side of a large table that indeed had quite a collection of snacks and hors d’oeuvres. Ed and Sue both expressed an interest in a chilled bottle of white wine sitting nearby on the table. Poney opened a can of soda for herself.
Ed: You have quite a nice backyard, Poney. Several large trees, nice gardens, a good fence. It’s all very private. There’s no reason your neighbors should have any problems with nudity here.
Poney: That’s what Mom and Dad think. They’ve already told the neighbors on both sides and in back – and two or three neighbors across the street – that we’ll be naked whenever possible. After I started going naked, the neighbors on the left side – Edda and Roger – were the first outside my family to know I’d stopped wearing clothes and to actually see me naked. Fortunately they were very approving, and made me feel good about my nudity. I haven’t worn anything since then, even while enjoying several days with their daughter Ellen and her husband, Matt, visiting Matt’s parents.
Sue: Wonderful. How have other neighbors reacted?
Poney: Mom says nobody’s been terribly shocked or outraged. But we have enough privacy that nobody should see us naked unless they come to visit. She says that neighbors she’s talked with have generally been supportive, a few have been non-committal, and only a couple have indicated they didn’t especially approve. But I don’t know the details.
Ed: What about neighbors with children at home who’re not yet adults? Are any concerned about how their kids might be affected?
Poney: Probably you should ask Mom or Dad themselves. I know only a little, and I don’t want to give you any incorrect impressions.
Sue: How about yourself? Do you know any of these neighbors, besides Edda and Roger, or their kids very well?
Poney: I probably know most of the kids nearby who’re close to my age, and some of the younger ones, too, since I’ve done babysitting. If Mom or Dad has told their parents about what we’re doing, then their kids likely know also. My parents don’t think I should wear any clothes just to get babysitting jobs. So I guess my babysitting opportunities will be limited.
Sue: That’s too bad.
Poney: Yeah, but Mom says she thinks we’ll meet other families pretty soon that are either mostly naked like us, or at least very comfortable with nudity. That because we’re going to spend a week at a campout organized by a local naturist group. There should be several other families there that might be perfectly happy to have a naked babysitter. There could also be others there who don’t need babysitting services themselves, but may have friends who do and are OK with nudity.
Sue: I certainly hope that works out. But to continue discussing your neighbors, do you have friends about your age in the neighborhood?
Poney: No, not really. Although I know most of the kids in the neighborhood, none of them near my age are close friends. It probably won’t be long before word gets around that everyone in our family is usually naked. So if anyone nearby is curious about our nudity, I’ll be happy to discuss it with them as much as they want. They just need to understand I’ll be naked, and if they’re not adults their parents would have to approve.
Sue: This could be an opportunity to develop closer friendships.
Poney: I hope so. Maybe it’s unlikely, but if anyone I don’t know well wants to be friends since they think I’m more “interesting” because I don’t wear clothes, I’ll be happy to reciprocate – provided I like them, and their interest is for the “right” reasons. Mom says I should be more sociable, and I think she’s right. Being able to have more friends on account of my nudity would be a real bonus. It doesn’t matter to me whether new friends want to try being naked themselves. I’ll be interested to find out how well a person like me who doesn’t wear clothes can to fit in with others who do.
Ed: Is it OK if I change the subject here?
Sue: Sure, go ahead. We’ve probably spent enough time already putting Poney on the spot, asking about her experiences and feelings on going naked. She’s been far more open about that than we’ve any right to expect. I’d like to know more about what she means by the “inner game of going naked”. But since that’s really Jenna’s idea, she’s probably the best one to explain it. Naturally, I’m also looking forward to hearing from Troy and Rowan about their own feelings concerning nudity.
Ed: There’s no rush. We have the whole evening to go over all these things. Talking about all this stuff in detail is certainly what Jenna and Troy had in mind by having us and the others here. No doubt they want to express their main ideas, so they can be thoroughly discussed – and any problems they may not have thought about can be examined.
Sue: So what is your question now, Ed?
Ed: I have a question for Poney that’s quite simple. It’s just for my own curiosity, I don’t want to forget it before we get into the more serious stuff. The question is: Her name, Poney, is rather unusual. Where did it come from?
Poney: That wasn’t my original name, which is Emily. But I never liked that name. It’s so common. Fortunately, people have been calling me Poney for some time, since I’ve always liked wearing a ponytail. I suppose that’s almost the only thing people will see me wearing from now on. I spell it P O N E Y, by the way.
Sue: You’re lucky you didn’t prefer pigtails instead.
Poney: Ha, ha. I’ve heard that a lot.
Ed: Thanks for answering about your name, Poney. Now here’s another simple question. Although I hope you can be as naked as you want at home and with your friends and acquaintances, what about at school, or going shopping, or something like that?
Poney: Obviously, school, and shopping, and so on are exceptions, although I sure wish they weren’t. For simplicity, my family and I say we intend to never wear clothes. However, there’s always an asterisk on that, which is something like “except when some minimal clothing is required for social or legal reasons, or protection from cold, etc.” But always saying that would be such a drag.
Ed: Yes, of course.
Poney: [Suddenly becoming quite vehement and animated.] I really wish that total nudity was allowed everywhere, because there’s nothing whatsoever wrong with it. Not in any way, shape, or form. I’m sure I’ll get tired of having to say that. Unfortunately, since society’s so mistaken about nudity, it forces us to wear clothes sometimes. That is what’s actually wrong, and it’s probably the main reason my parents decided our whole family should completely reject wearing clothes. But we have to, since that’s what we’re stuck with.
Ed: You could be a very persuasive speaker on the subject if you want to be.
Poney: Or perhaps I’m just getting too passionate and need to learn when to stop letting all my frustrations just burst out.
Sue: I believe there’s a time and place for everything. Some times and places are right for being passionate. Others call for a little less fervor. Knowing which is the trick.
Poney: Since I’ve only been naked full-time for only ten days, maybe I’m not very qualified to preach about this. Probably there’s no quick way to make being naked in more situations than now easier. I’m afraid the process will be slow and difficult.
Sue: That’s a shame, but probably realistic. How do you suggest tackling the problem?
Poney: Well, it’s basically doing what our family’s doing, even if not quite so dramatically. I believe that people who already enjoy nudity need to go public and stop hiding. We should extol and demonstrate the decency and goodness of nudity to as many others as possible. I think the best way to do that is by being naked whenever feasible and explaining why we’re naked. So far, I’ve been afraid to do that, but by pledging not to wear clothes, I’ll force myself to do it anyway. I realize many people aren’t able to be so open – that’s why progress will be slow.
Ed: Clearly, anyone who thinks nudity is a really good thing shouldn’t keep their opinion a secret. People tend to take seriously things they know their friends enjoy – but they can’t if they don’t even know what’s important to their friends.
Poney: Keeping one’s enjoyment of nudity a secret just needs to stop. It doesn’t have to be disclosed to the whole world, like on Facebook or something. Advocating for nudity in person is probably much more effective, because when others see you naked and unashamed when talking about the virtues of nudity they’re more likely to believe you. In my opinion, that’s the best way more people will begin to take nudity seriously and try to learn more about it. I was initially very worried I’d lose friends by going that route. But now I think I should take the risk, and then get closer to friends who seem open-minded about nudity.
Sue: It’s just basic psychology that people absorb new ideas and recommendations much more easily from friends they know well and like than from other people. Your friends’ opinions matter to you, even if you don’t completely agree. Opinions you read on the Internet from people you don’t know are easily ignored.
Poney: Exactly. I’m shy and introverted, but I’m going to make a serious effort to be more sociable, and spend much more time with people I know – or can find – who don’t mind nudity and may even take an interest in it themselves. Any excuse will do to be with such people – working together on homework, informal parties, or just watching TV and movies. The more they interact with naked people like me, the more likely they are to try going naked themselves.
Just then Troy walked out to join the group.
Troy: Hi, everyone! Well, Sue and Ed, anyhow. I’m so glad you’re here this evening. We’re excited about what we’re doing, and we’re happy that great people like yourselves are willing to support us.
Sue: Much more than willing, Troy. I’m quite enthusiastic about what your family is doing, and I know Ed is too. We’ve been talking with Poney awhile, and if she’s any indication, you’ve all got your act together very well. She seems so mature and confident about being naked. You and Jeanna should be so proud to have done a great job of raising such an impressive young lady.
Troy: Oh, we are, we are. You know, at first we were a little concerned about whether she’d be OK with our plans, let alone being enthusiastic about joining in. Her younger brother Rowan didn’t hesitate even a moment when we explained how we wanted to be a completely naked family. He stripped off immediately, and has been fully naked ever since.
Sue: It’s unsurprising that Poney’s taken a little longer to get excited about nudity. Especially at her age, being female and constantly naked presents many more problems than it does for a guy. Even just physical matters, like having periods. All in all, both Jenna and Poney deserve so much admiration. I can’t imagine doing myself what they’re doing – even though I have positive feelings about nudity.
Poney: Well, heck, yeah it’s been harder for me than for the others. But I’m becoming more enthusiastic about nudity every day – the longer I’ve stayed completely naked. Going back to wearing clothes would almost certainly be far more difficult than staying naked – whatever my friends might think about it. I can’t wait to tell them I’ve stopped wearing clothes. I know I can handle whatever negative reactions they have. Standing up without reservations for something as important as this makes me feel very good. I’m finally ready for my friends to see me naked, so maybe they’ll understand why I’m sure nudity is right for me.
Ed: Good for you, Poney! It’s hard to imagine your mother being as enthusiastic about nudity as you. But speaking of Jenna, she really needs to get her naked butt out here too, so we can get her perspective on what your family’s doing.
Jenna: [Speaking from inside the house] Hey, Ed, I hear you. I’m just on the other side of the kitchen window and I’ve been following the whole conversation. Someone’s got to get this BBQ stuff ready for grilling, and that someone’s me. But I’m almost done, so in a few minutes Troy can take it over. He assures me the grill is all ready. Then you’ll see I’m just as avid about nudity as Poney. It was partly my idea to begin with for our whole family to stop wearing clothes.