Jenna was correct about being almost ready. The other two invited couples arrived at nearly the same time. One of the couples was Roberto and Maria Sanchez, who were about the same age as Ed and Sue, thus somewhat younger than Troy and Jenna. The other was Riley Boucher and Phil Dexter, who were both in their twenties, living together in a long-term relationship.
Troy: OK, everyone we’ve expected is here now. The new arrivals learned about our naked family project through me. I can’t claim to know them really well, but I know they strongly approve of what our family is doing, even though I may be the only naturist they’re acquainted with. Both Roberto and Riley, like me, teach at the local junior college – that’s how I know them. So I’m going to step back, tend to grilling our meal, and let them introduce themselves.
Jenna: Well, aren’t you at least going to introduce your own family members to the newcomers?
Troy: Oh, yes, of course. This is my wife, Jenna, sitting beside me. That’s my daughter, Poney, over there, wearing nothing but the ponytail, and the naked young man sitting beside her is our youngest, Rowan. You especially want to make nice with Poney and Rowan, because they’ll be the ones to take care of anything you need – fetching special drinks, helping you find the bathrooms – or even showing where to put your clothes, just in case you feel a sudden urge to take them off.
Jenna: Don’t worry – we won’t put any pressure on you to do that. Naturists believe that everyone should wear just as much or as little as they want – although we’re convinced the best choice is wearing nothing. Being totally naked has become very important to all of us. A main reason is to set an example for others and show that nudity is a wonderful thing – not scary or deviant. We won’t hesitate to tell friends and acquaintances what we’re doing and why, even if many of them think we’re crazy. We hope that as others learn why we’re so enthusiastic about nudity, then maybe some will develop the same passion for it. But I think Poney has something to say right now.
Poney: Yes I do. Getting comfortable not wearing clothes took me a little longer than the others. I started gradually wearing less and less. I stopped wearing anything only about two weeks ago. But I’m now quite used to that – and happy without any clothes. That seems entirely normal to me now. Wearing only bare skin instead of clothes really rocks! However, sometimes I become too excited talking about it. So if I do, just tell me, “Whoa, you don’t need to say any more, we get it!”
Jenna: Yes, Poney, like many who fall in love with something, does get a little carried away at times. So do I. As mother and daughter, we’re much alike.
Poney: Mom’s right. I’ve gone from fearing nudity to embracing it. That’s a big surprise to me. So now I’m itching to tell people how much I enjoy nudity. I don’t mind answering any questions about that, no matter how personal or embarrassing they think the question might be.
Jenna: Whoa, Poney, it’s time to let our guests introduce themselves. Why don’t you start, Sue?
Sue: OK. I’m as curious about new acquaintances as they may be about me. So about all I want to say is that Jenna invited me and Ed because I’m a member of a reading group that she belongs to. In that group I’ve expressed sympathy and approval for characters in books we’ve read who have to be naked for some reason and can cope with that – or even enjoy it. Do you have anything to add, Ed?
Ed: Well, maybe just a little. We have two small kids at home. One’s about to go into the first grade, and the other one into the second. I share Sue’s favorable attitude towards nudity, but neither of us actually know much about nudism or naturism. So we’ve never thought of having a “naked family”, like Jenna and Troy. I suppose we might consider it. It’s probably much easier to start with kids as young as ours. They might happily play naked if we let them.
Jenna: Kids the same age as yours or younger generally don’t have inhibitions about nudity – unless they’re been taught to. They could be naked quite easily without encouragement.
Ed: That’s my impression too. I’m very curious to learn about Jenna and Troy’s background with nudity. We’d like to know what precipitated the radical step of wanting their whole family to stop wearing clothes. I expect they’ll tell us about it this evening.
Jenna: Don’t worry. We may say much more about that than you want to know! But let’s move on. How about Roberto and Maria tell us about themselves next?
Roberto: Troy and I are acquainted and he invited us, so I’ll speak first. We’re very grateful for the invitation. It a real honor, since we haven’t been close friends of Troy and Jenna. We’re especially happy to meet Poney and Rowan. They seem so comfortable wearing nothing – just like they were always meant to be that way and have never worn anything. But no doubt we’d like them just as much even if they had. Meeting people for the first time who’re naked is probably normal for most naturists, but it’s certainly a novelty for us.
Maria: Although I’m not a naturist, I have a very favorable attitude towards nudity. That’s likely because one of my hobbies is sketching and watercolor painting of nude models. Models are almost always clothed when I first meet them. They don’t usually strip before taking the first pose. So my hobby makes me happy to celebrate our hosts’ enthusiasm for nudity. Perhaps one of more of them will like to model for me and some others with the same hobby.
Poney: Please, please, let me be a nude model as soon as possible! I’ve never thought of doing that, but I’d love to have the opportunity now! You won’t need to pay me anything. I could brag about being a nude model – and fill my room’s walls with artistic interpretations of me anyone let me have.
Maria: I’ll definitely do that, Poney – I promise. We can talk later this evening about how soon we can arrange it.
Jenna: Please consider me too, Maria. I’d love to model myself or along with Poney almost any time. I have no experience with modeling – naked or otherwise. But I have some yoga experience, so that should help me do some interesting poses.
Maria: I’ll certainly invite you too. People who’re good at yoga usually make excellent models. Your body obviously provides great artistic possibilities. You’ve had kids, and your body shows that – but doesn’t make it any less interesting. We love models with “real” bodies that have been happily lived in. We need male models too – if that’s of interest to Troy or Rowan. How about it, Rowan? We very rarely have models about your age.
Rowan: Sure, I’d be glad to do that.
Troy: I might like it too. Perhaps you could do a family group sometime.
Maria: That would be very interesting!
Roberto: I still need to say something about myself. I know Troy, since we’re both on the faculty at the junior college. However, he teaches physics, while history is my field, so we have hardly anything in common professionally. We know each other only because we’ve had lunch together occasionally in the cafeteria, just by chance initially. One day recently he told me how that he and Jenna have been hoping their whole family would stop wearing clothes. I’d never have expected someone I didn’t know very well to mention something like that. But since I teach history he thought I might know something about the history of nudity.
Troy: That was a rather naive assumption on my part, perhaps even as dumb as assuming that because I teach physics I must know how to fix cars.
Sue: Why on Earth would anyone assume that?
Troy: Well, it’s not quite as crazy as you might think. Some of the physics I teach is called “classical mechanics”. It’s just not at all what most people would suppose. Anyhow, fortunately, Roberto was very patient, although he could tell me much from professional knowledge about the history of nudity. He graciously suggested, however, several books I might check out that could provide more information – and he was right.
Roberto: It wasn’t a problem. I occasionally get unusual questions about history, just as he does about physics. But it’s all worked out very well, because, like others here, Maria and I feel quite fortunate that we’ve been invited to such a significant event for Troy’s family. We certainly wish them all the best. And now Maria has some excellent new models for the artistic activities she and her friends enjoy.
Maria: A few of us also do figure sculptures. We often work from sketches and paintings, but live models are much better. Since sculptures are 3-dimensional, being able to view the model from different directions is very helpful, and we can easily make changes when the models change their pose slightly.
Roberto: Troy explained that he and Jenna were happy to discover naturism when they traveled in Europe before their children were born. He didn’t explicitly say he wished they could pursue it much further in this country, but that was my strong impression. Troy and Jenna’s family becoming avid naturists now is an example where “kismet” seems to be at work. Maybe they’re accepting a challenge they didn’t realize they were always meant to take on.
Poney: What’s “kismet”?
Roberto: Speaking as a cultural historian, “kismet” is a concept with Middle Eastern roots – and probably also Greek roots, where it’s called “moira”. Actually, the idea’s probably as old as humans. In other languages it’s called “fate”, “destiny”, or “karma”. The idea suggests that whatever happens to people might be inevitable, since it’s what they “deserve”. Before humans understood their own psychology better, they had a vague notion that their fate in life isn’t just random, but instead is shaped by something inside them – which might have been present even at birth. Our modern concept of genes may partly agree.
Poney: I get it! I get it! I have to live completely naked, because that’s my kismet!
Troy: I wouldn’t have thought a craving for nudity could be genetic, but who knows? There might be something to that. Maybe it has to do with having self-confidence and needing independence from arbitrary social customs. However, it’s strange, since Jenna and I haven’t earlier shown or encouraged in our family a habit of being naked, as far as I can recall.
Rowan: It must be inherited, Dad. I never thought seriously about wearing nothing – but I liked the idea immediately when you and Mom proposed it. I’ve enjoyed it ever since.
Poney: When Mom and Dad first suggested we should all stop wearing clothes, I didn’t have much self-confidence, so I was terrified I’d not only have to be naked a lot, but wouldn’t have even the option to wear anything unless it was necessary. I must have inherited that fate, along with self-confidence I didn’t know I had. I guess we don’t know ourselves as well as we assume. But I’ve finally accepted I have a need for nudity – instead of a need for clothes – because that’s been my destiny all along!
Jenna: You definitely were terrified, Poney! Several times you were actually sobbing about how unfair you thought it was – even though we assured you still had a choice about wearing clothes. Your father and I never intended to deny you that. We just wanted you to seriously consider nudity, so you’d eventually realize that full nudity is right for all of us.
Poney: Yeah, I know. I clearly overreacted. But now I see the bigger picture, and I’m becoming confident I’ll be happy with full-time nudity. I feel better about it every day since I stopped wearing anything. Maybe there’s a school for me somewhere that allows students to always be naked. That would be so cool!
Jenna: Well, realistically, that doesn’t seem very likely, but we’d surely be in favor if it were. So let’s move on. We’ve already heard from all our guests except Riley and Phil.
Riley: OK, I’ll do the talking, since being here is more my idea than Phil’s. I also teach at the junior college, which is how I got to know Troy. However, I’ve been there only a year, so I’m just a lowly instructor. My field is sociology. Fortuitously, I had lunch in the cafeteria one day with Troy and Roberto. Maybe that’s part of the “kismet” thing. They were talking about this nudity stuff, and not being at all secretive about it, even though I was sitting right there with them. That definitely caught my attention, since as a sociologist I’m always quite curious about things that relatively few people are interested in, even if they’re far from the mainstream. Nudists and naturists are definitely in that category.
Troy: Jenna and I wouldn’t disagree. However, except for our passion for nudity, we think we’re pretty normal, sensible “mainstream” people.
Riley: That was my impression too, Troy. Other examples of uncommon passions some people have that might interest me include avid bird watching, going often to cosplay conventions, or building tiny ships in wine bottles. Having “unusual” interests doesn’t mean people are “weird”. I find that such people are pretty normal, and definitely not crazy. As a sociologist, I’m naturally attracted to such people, because they’re atypical and learning why is interesting.
Troy: I’m often considered weird just because I spend lots of time thinking about abstract physics. Once people learn I like being naked, most will certainly think I’m weird. Most people aren’t curious about my interest in physics – but probably most will be about my interest in nudity – unless they’d prefer not knowing the details.
Riley: An important question for me now is whether to take a professional interest in what Troy and Jenna’s family is doing. I know hardly anything about nudists or naturists, but I’ve begun reading some professional literature on the subject. There’s not much of it, unfortunately. And what exists tends to be old, out-of-date, unscientific, or somewhat shallow. I haven’t found good studies of people who are passionate about being naked. Probably most sociologists cringe at the idea.
Roberto: Perhaps there’s a real opportunity here for you to examine the topic seriously and study the heck out of it.
Riley: I agree. But there are reasons social scientists are reluctant to do that. The subject seems to be regarded as focusing on “deviant behavior”, which sounds very prejudicial, though it isn’t necessarily. In sociology “deviance” is anything that violates cultural norms. That includes harmful behavior, but also a lot that isn’t. Naturism is definitely in the latter category. Cultural norms vary widely from place to place, and they’re often arbitrary, being customary only for historical reasons. Relatively small communities where nudity is “normal” have existed at various times and places. It certainly is among nudists and naturists. But they’ve had difficulty sustaining themselves in the face of opposition from the wider society.
Jenna: We want to do our best to have nudity considered more normal in our society, but we’re under no illusion that will be easy.
Riley: Yes, of course. Unfortunately, attitudes of the wider society make even research into either social nudity or private nudity difficult. Research grants and publication opportunities for studies of nudity are extremely limited. So doing research into social nudity is mostly considered – if it’s considered at all – to be a rather bad career move.
Troy: Even in physics there are research topics that are not very popular and are usually avoided – “cold fusion”, for example. Sometimes that’s appropriate, but not always.
Riley: Right, even science has its taboos. Research on nudity happens to be one in sociology. However, I’m somewhat disillusioned with sociology anyway. There are so many overcrowded subfields, while things like studying people who enjoy nudity are mostly ignored. I can continue teaching sociology at the junior college if I really want to, but basically that’s just a paycheck for me. I ought to be looking around for alternatives.
Troy: Is studying nudity one of the alternatives?
Riley: Yes, definitely. I’m considering studying both private and social nudists – because understanding their rejection of wearing anything seems fascinating and so rarely studied. Why are clothing norms so common, what keeps them so widely observed, and why do some people choose to reject them? It’s not only norms about clothes versus no clothes, but also norms about types and styles of clothes. My guess is that it’s because what a person wears – including nothing – is an important signal about the person, whether accurate or not. Clothing indicates status, affiliations, social attitudes, and adherence to cultural norms – among many things.
Jenna: I think we wouldn’t object to being studied like some indigenous tribe in the Amazon. After all, we have in common with them an aversion to wearing “normal” clothes, or any clothes at all. That doesn’t make us “freaks” or “weirdos” any more than Amazonians are. Except, of course, we live smack in the middle of “normal” middle-class American society. We are under no illusions and expect that many or most people will be leery of our naked lifestyle. It’s one thing for me and Troy to be doing this, but we are concerned for our kids.
Poney: Don’t be worried about me, Mom. I’m more confident all the time that I can handle wearing nothing. We know there are others like us who already choose that – and many who respect their choice.
Rowan: I’m not worried at all either.
Riley: You’re all very brave, and I really admire that. So I too feel honored being invited to help celebrate your choice.
Jenna: And thank you for being here with us, Riley.
Ed: Now that everyone’s said why they’re here, it’s time for Troy and Jenna to tell us all about their backgrounds with nudity, their experiences with nudism and naturism, why they’ve firmly decided to stop wearing any clothes, and what they see as the path ahead for their whole family.
Jenna: That’s exactly our intention. However, it looks like the BBQ food is ready, so let’s not allow it to get cold. We can take a few minutes to fill up our plates, refresh our glasses of whatever we’re drinking, and then return to focus on the real subject at hand – our family’s plans for a clothes-free lifestyle.