I am proud to say that I am a nudist, and that I live my life clothes free as much as possible. Unless I have to go out for groceries, get the kids from school, or go to work, I am bare-ass naked, and if I could live this way 24/7, I would. Since I was twelve years old, I have hated clothes, the feel and touch of it, the constraint of a belt or a shoelace or, worse than anything, a pair of underwear. Clothing, for me, is unnecessary, a matter of habit, a silly and pointless tradition, while feelings of shame, of embarrassment over a nipple, a butt crack, or a penis, is only an illusion. Once we examine why we feel ashamed, we quickly realize there is no reason to feel that way.
But what does it mean to be a nudist or a naturist? Is it all about sex? Gawking at privates? Shocking strangers with your dangly bits? Quite the opposite, actually. Most nudists I know are shy. If I had to sum up our beliefs in five simple words, those words would be: the human body is innocent. That’s it. We believe that men and women have the capacity to respect one another, with or without clothing, without succumbing to animal instinct. We believe there is no shame in being seen naked or in seeing others naked. Your penis, your vagina, your nipple, these are just parts, and are no more indecent than an ear or an elbow. Baring your body to the world isn’t harmful, and in fact, quite the opposite is true. We become obsessed with genitalia the more we keep it a mystery. Nudists see a naked body as a person, not a thing to be lusted after.
Human beings were never meant to wear clothes. We are born far more beautiful, and can experience the world far more intimately, in nothing but our bare bodies. This philosophy is nothing new. We are all born free of shame. In Ancient Greece and in Rome, in Celtic Europe and throughout most native cultures, nakedness was the norm. For tens of thousands, if not more than a hundred thousand years, mankind was oblivious to nakedness. At around the time of the Ice Age, we adopted textiles to retain body heat, but what was once a necessity became a global neurosis, and a hatred for what we look like in just our skin, while, conversely, fetishizing the 1% who fit our very narrow definition of beauty.
Growing up, I never understood our obsession with sex and, paradoxically, our Puritanical attitude toward the human body. The United States of America is an insane place, where you can legally carry and conceal a gun, but risk imprisonment should anyone see your genitals. We live in a world where, under the banner of free speech, YouTube permits videos calling for racism, sexism and homophobia, but Facebook censors a mother breastfeeding; we live in a world where “Mature” video games like Grand Theft Auto entertain children with fantasies of murdering innocents, while a game showing a nipple earns a much stricter “Adult” rating; we live in a world where the Westboro Baptist Church can rally at a gay soldier’s funeral with signs that read “God Hates Fags” as police stand idly by, but should a man or woman show up in nothing but the body we are all born into, they would promptly get arrested for indecency.
But we are becoming a far more accepting society. No longer do we demonize people based on race, religion, or sexual orientation (not most of us, anyway) while the practice of objectifying women is steady declining. More and more, humanity is seeing itself less apart from nature and more as part of nature. These ideals align perfectly with naturism, which is why athletes, actors, and singers pose shamelessly for magazines, TV shows, and on social media, without the career ending outrage of bygone eras.
For me, naturism means more than a life without clothes. It is a reverence for nature and life. It gives me a sense of awe, for our species and for our place in the universe. Only when we recognize our shared humanity can we hope to overcome the definitions that divide us.
I am not suggesting that throwing away our clothes can solve society’s ills. But if we can live without outdated taboos, might this world not become a better place? Without shame, we are free to live as we are. Without shame, we are free to be ourselves.
Ages of Aenya: A Naturist Fantasy Adventure: Overview, Prologue, The City by the Sea, The Serpent’s Eye
Naked and proud!