Letter of Rec.: Naturism
This article originally appeared in the NY Times. It was shared by Dan of The Discerning Naturist. (Stole his picture too.) I think it gives the most honest appraisal of naturism by a non-naturist I have ever seen:
Kelli María Korducki is the author of “Hard to Do: The Surprising, Feminist History of Breaking Up.”
Nakedness doesn’t democratize social experience, as the naturists seem to suggest. Instead, it offers something better: a shared preoccupation. It’s so awkward to act blasé about being naked around other people — people who are also, themselves, naked — that there’s nothing left to do but submit en masse to the social and afferent novelty. Take in the warmth of the sun on your bare butt, skinny-dip unaccompanied by a sneaky sense of thrill, try not to stare at anyone’s penile jewelry. It’s easier said than done.
This article is about a weekend nudie going to a nude beach and contrasting her experience with that of the regulars. I love her comment about “not looking at each other’s aureolas” and “not staring at anyone’s penile jewelry”.
I agree that it doesn’t democratize social experience. I don’t want it to. Many nudists have that part all wrong.
A shared preoccupation? Quite right. If one were not preoccupied with nudity to some extent, one would never take to the lifestyle. This is true of any special interest. Like some people are preoccipied by anime.
Taking in “the warmth of the sun on your butt” is one of the great joys of being naked. Embrace it! If you felt a sneaky sense of thrill at skinny-dipping, then good for you. You are enjoying yourself. People who wear penile jewelry want to be looked at. Keep at the nudie lifestyle for a while and it becomes background noise. I’m still not blase’ about it 40 years into social or even private nudity. Why would anyone ever want to become blase’ about something they enjoyed? Novelty wears off but the satifaction ought to remain.
One should never become blase’ about freedom. That’s how you lose it.
The aureola bit is amusing. In some respects, it is difficult to be young and attractive and nude in a world where most people aren’t nudists. You’ll get your aureolas (and other parts) stared at, usually out of lust or shock. (I don’t deny that envy is also a possible reason.)
But if everyone (or just a large percentage of people) is naked, not so much. It is pure vanity to think that on a nude beach with many other nude people YOU will be especially stared at. But it can happen. Just because you’re in with a bunch of experienced nudists doesn’t mean that girl watching won’t be a boy’s favorite pastime. The beaches in Europe are almost all top-free and many are nude. It doesn’t turn French boys into sex-addled hentai, staring and grabbing. It just means that aureolas are the norm. So are penises and vulvas. Whatever the “norm” is, it will generate the same amount of girl watching, whether in 1950s US or the 2019 Cote d’Azur.
Seriously. The boys of 1950 looked at this and lusted just as much as boys today do when they see a bikini on Zuma or boys on Zandvoort beach in the Netherlands when they see (and are themselves showing) everything. It is the atypical that grabs attention.
The author intentionally worked at not looking at aureolas because they weren’t the norm in her life. She was still keeping herself separate from what she was doing. Like trying not to see the leaves on the trees. The nudie ideal is to immerse yourself such that you no longer care if you see someone’s aureola or that they may look at yours or you see someone with piercings in odd places or who has shaved their pubic hair. It doesn’t matter that they are a different skin color or have tan lines or are very old or very young or disabled or heavy or skinny or have surgical scars or are 8 months pregnant. Or even if someone (gasp!) was wearing clothing.
It just doesn’t matter.
And that is the very core of being a nudie like me. Be true to yourself and what the other people wear or don’t wear won’t matter. (But stay out of jail.) Accept yourself and most people will accept you. (But at the same time, try not to shock people who you know can’t deal with reality.) Be willing, even eager, to change so as to become a better “you” but not to become someone else’s idea of a better you.